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Scouting Report: Will FC Dallas find success against the LA Galaxy?

The Galaxy are much more improved in Year two under Gregg Vanney.

MLS: FC Dallas at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Year Two of the Vanney Era has started well. They may still be overly dependent on aging stars, but Vanney is making improvements to the defense. The Galaxy enters the weekend with a record of 6W-3L-1D – tied with FC Dallas with 19 points – which is good for third in the West. The offseason saw the departures of Jonathan dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget and the much-hyped arrival of former Brazilian standout Douglas Costa from Gremio (and other clubs) and the less hyped Mark Delgado from Toronto FC. The early returns say that Delgado was the better acquisition.

Is anyone surprised that LA overpaid for an over-the-hill player? I thought Vanney was smarter than that, but maybe that thought process is too entrenched in the club.

Recent Results

Date Home Score Away
Date Home Score Away
4/9 LA 2-1 LAFC
4/16 Chicago 0-0 LA
4/19 - USOC LA 1-0 San Diego Loyal
4/23 LA 1-0 Nashville
4/30 Real Salt Lake 1-0 LA
5/8 Austin 0-1 LA
5/11 - USOC Cal United Strikers 2-3 LA

LA Galaxy is 3W-1L-1D in their last five league matches. Good results – especially the away match in Austin. However, the first item that jumps out at me is the paucity of scoring. Prior to the scoring onslaught against California United Strikers FC (of the National Independent Soccer Association [I had to look that one up]), LA has scored only five goals in their last six matches. Of course, they’ve only allowed two goals in that time span. Granted, Chicago, Nashville, and RSL are all bottom half of the league in goals scored (and San Diego is a Championship side), but that’s still a good defense. When is the last time we said that about LA?

LA is top five in the league in key passes (five players have double-digit KP) and in the top ten in shots; however, those passes and shots have not translated into goals. They are third in corner kicks but bottom five in shooting accuracy.

LA Stats

Player Shots Goals Assists
Player Shots Goals Assists
Chicharito 27 5 0
Douglas Costa 16 1 0
Efrain Alvarez 19 1 0
Kevin Cabral 10 0 0
Raheem Edwards 11 0 5
Rayan Raveloson 14 0 2
Jader Obrian (for comparison) 8 1 1

Given Chicharito’s injury history, these numbers must keep Greg Vanney up at night. Sam Jones wrote this week, “If your plan in MLS is somewhere along the lines of ‘play elite defense, create chances for Chicharito and take what contributions you can get from everyone else,’ you’re going to go pretty far.” I disagree. If he goes down, it looks bleak for the Galaxy, which is why some soccer pundits (I’m trying to remember what Matt Doyle said last week) are just waiting for them to begin the slide down the standings as other sides sort their early-season troubles. But right now, Javier Hernandez is their plan A and Plan B.

As for elite defense, LA shares the lead for the fewest goals allowed (7) with Dallas. And only two of those goals have come from the run of play. The commentators noted that LA was happy to grind out a result against Austin, and based on the numbers above the Galaxy aren’t creating much danger going forward and are happy to play for a 1-0 win.

Player Notes for LA:

  1. In Matt Doyle’s words, “Douglas Costa, who they signed this offseason, has been a cipher, while Kevin Cabral profiles (and produces) more like a U22 Initiative signing – a toolsy kid who can be compelling, but is frustrating much, much more often than not.” Neither winger had more than a handful of successful passes against Austin, and only a few in the final third. With only one goal from the pair, the burden is squarely on Chicharito.
  2. The center back pairing of Derrick Williams and Sega Coulibaly has taken off this season. Both were acquired before last season, but this year the pair has been solid even if they aren’t widely known.
  3. Jonathan Bond: The keeper has five clean sheets through ten games. His defense is helping him, but he’s still beating the numbers: G-xG = -.49. Of course, the same metric shows Paes at –1.49, so I guess our keeper is good too.

Line Up Prediction: 4-2-3-1

Chicharito
Costa E. Alvarez Cabral
Delgado Raveloson
R. Edwards Williams Coulibally – Araujo
Bond

Availability:

OUT: Adam Saldaña (left ankle), Jorge Villafaña (left knee), Víctor Vázquez (right upper leg)

Game Time:

9:30 PM Central Time, Dignity Heath Sport Park, Carson, CA. Should be about 85 degrees with clear skies.