Failure to win against Houston Dynamo condemned Los Angeles Galaxy to last place in the Western Conference, but no need to push the panic button- Bruce Arena and his men will bounce back.
Major League Soccer’s most notable franchise is going through a rough patch right now, picking up nine points from eight games. The four-time MLS Cup champions started the season off on a wrong foot, losing to Real Salt Lake at home. Since then, they’ve only won against Chivas USA and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The inability to generate chances and find the back of the net has been the Galaxy’s Achilles heel this season. Besides Robbie Keane’s five goals, his teammates have only managed to put the ball in the back of the net three times this season.
The performance against the Dynamo brilliantly summarizes the Galaxy’s offensive displays this season. Keane was the only forward moving and demanding the ball, which is why he’s the only Galaxy forward to have scored this season, while his teammates listlessly inhabited space. Rob Friend and Samuel’s lack of movement forced the midfielders to try their luck from long range.
It’s understandable that Galaxy fans might be worried, but the club’s dark times will soon come to an end. Even without all-time leading goalscorer, Landon Donovan, Arena will find a way to get his side back on track.
The legendary coach has at his disposal a potent leader, solid defense and midfield, a cluster of highly talented youngsters and a favorable schedule.
Republic of Ireland’s inability to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was great news for the Galaxy. The club gets to keep its leader, while others lose theirs. With Keane healthy and hungry for success, Los Angeles will always be a threat.
The 33-year-old is more than a goalscorer; he is the team’s offensive catalyst. He makes his teammates more efficient and lethal with his ability to create something out of nothing. With his vision and movement, Keane has the ability to rejuvenate Arena’s stagnant offense.
The goal conceded against the Dynamo paints a false image about Los Angeles’ defense. Even though the defenders were uncoordinated and made an inexcusable mistake that led to the team’s downfall, they have been solid all season. So far, the Galaxy’s defense has been the stingiest in the league, conceding just seven goals.
Without Omar Gonzalez, the defense is understandably weaker, however, his replacement, Kofi Opare, looked good against Houston. The second-year man was solid against the powerful Will Bruin and his recovery speed was displayed when the Dynamo countered. Moving forward, Opare and Tommy Meyer’s partnership will only get better.
In the midfield, Stefan Ishizaki has blossomed, scoring two goals and adding two assists. The newly signed midfielder brings experience and top-notch technical abilities to the Galaxy. His versatility gives Arena options all across the middle.
The Swede can play down both flanks, and in Arena’s diamond midfield, he fits perfectly behind the forwards. The American coach also has Baggio Husidic and Juninho, and when Marcelo Sarvas returns from injury, he’ll have to make the tough decision of who to sideline.
Despite Gyasi Zardes’ poor outing against Houston, the young forward is still an asset. He can play on the flanks or up top. With Keane running off him, the youngster can use his speed, skill and size to do some damage.
The only bright spot from the match against Houston was Raul Mendiola’s performance. In his MLS debut, the Homegrown Player gave us a glimpse into the future. In his 24 minutes appearance, the rookie was proactive and he almost drew the Galaxy level with a shot from outside the box.
Galaxy fans should also remain calm because their team’s next four games are winnable. Los Angeles faces FC Dallas, Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire and Chivas USA. Those four teams combined have only won 11 matches out of 46 games.
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