The Los Angeles Galaxy are enduring one of their worst seasons in club history, having one just three games this season out of a possible fifteen and sit last in the West.
The standards at LA Galaxy are much higher than most other clubs in Major League Soccer. What has happened to the five-time MLS Cup Champions that sees them currently in the basement of the Western Conference?
The Galaxy opened the 2023 season on the road at FC Dallas, losing 3-1. They would follow that game up with three straight draws against Western Conference foes Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers where LA scored just one goal.
LA were winless in their first seven games of the season before finally picking up three points against Austin FC, 2-0. Following that result, the Gs lost two straight and then won two straight against impressive opposition in the Seattle Sounders (in the U.S. Open Cup) and San Jose Earthquakes. Things started to look up for the Galaxy with three wins out of their last five.
But that small amount of hope was diminished when they were beaten at Columbus Crew and D.C. United, 2-0 and 3-0, respectively. Their chances of silverware are practically zero given that they were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup by Real Salt Lake and face an steep hill in the upcoming Leagues Cup.
Goals have been hard to come by for the Galaxy this season. Things haven’t been great on the back end, either, as LA are near the top of the charts in MLS for goals conceded. Not scoring enough goals and conceding so many isn’t exactly a recipe for success for any club.
One of the main popular culprits for the situation (as seen by their supporter’s protests) that the Galaxy finds themselves in is ex-president Chris Klein.
Klein was fired after their latest loss to Charlotte. Klein had been with the club for the past 16 years, and Dan Beckerman, the CEO/President of Anschutz Entertainment Group who own the Galaxy, had to make a change. The club has been in sort of a limbo mode the past several years, missing out on the playoffs in 2021 and in 2018, but making the playoffs in 2022 and 2019.
Many Galaxy supporters will see Klein’s dismissal as a step in the right direction as they’ve fallen off in recent seasons as well as his suspension from soccer operations. Now, they need head coach Greg Vanney and his squad to live up to the expectations as the decorated club they are.
This starts with the head coach and his players. Vanney has tinkered with starting XI and formation several times, but he needs his players to perform as well. Like most other sports, the head coach is the first to be criticized when things aren’t going well.
For example, the leading goalscorer for LA is Dejan Jovejic with two goals, who has been used mainly as a substitute this season. The Galaxy have veteran designated players Chicharito – who is out for the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament – and Douglas Costa who have not been up to par when they’ve featured.
Chicharito has one goal and one assist this season, while Costa has no goal involvements in four games played. Riqui Puig has been a bright spot for LA this season, but he can’t do win games on his own. The bottom line is, the players in this Galaxy squad have not performed and Greg Vanney is partly responsible for that as the head coach.
There are probably a ton of ways that LA could go about improving their situation. But one way could for Vanney to change up the formation more as his preferred 4-4-2 hasn’t brought the Galaxy much joy this season.
He could look to utilize a shape that has three center-backs in order to stop the goals from leaking in. But their scoring woes may force Vanney to play with four at the back for the extra player in attack. Either way, Vanney will more than likely be criticized for picking one formation/tactic over the other, regardless of which one it is.
Talisman Chicharito has started nearly every game this season and just hasn’t been able to find the back of the net, and his injury may force Vanney to look into the G’s youth options as their experienced players haven’t cut it thus far.
Joveljic and players like Preston Judd and Jonathan Perez could be given a chance either up top as a striker duo in either a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2. The same can be said for the defense and the midfield.
If Vanney toying with the formation and squad isn’t enough to turn around this shipwreck of a season for LA, Beckerman may be forced to take drastic measures come the end of the season or earlier. The Galaxy may need a full reset inside the club to get back to challenging for silverware.
This means possibly parting ways with Vanney, who missed the playoffs in his first seas as head coach but then guided LA to the postseason last year. This could also mean letting veteran players walk out of the door to let younger players take their place. This may include players such as Chicharito, who’s scored 39 goals for the club, Douglas Costa and Martin Caceres.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Galaxy are capable of pulling together a string of positive results this season. If they fail to turn the season around and make the playoffs, and even worse, finish at the bottom of the Western Conference, big changes could be coming the Galaxy’s way.