The last meeting between Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy was a wild affair; a 6-2 demolition by RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium. It was a chance for Zlatan to get his 500th career goal, and Real denied him of that, forcing him to wait another week. Going into this match, the Galaxy are looking much more dangerous. They sit in second in the west on 19 points, with just one tie and one loss, both coming away from home. We spoke to Mike Gray of LAG Confidential to get some insight into the team ahead of Sunday’s match.
LA Galaxy are off to a much better start in 2019 than what we saw in 2018. What has been the difference this season? What were the biggest offseason improvements the team made?
The duo of new GM Dennis de Kloese and Guillermo Barros Schelotto have done well to transform the club in the short time they’ve been here. DtK has been instrumental in the acquisition of positive signings, and perhaps more importantly, the former FMF executive has taken the training wheels off the academy. Guille has established an attacking ethos that is still a work in progress, conversely LA have the best defense in the league.
An example of the one-two punch of DtK and GBS has been the introduction of young talents into the lineup with successful results. Efrain Alvarez stole the show in the season opener while 17-year old Julian Araujo has been turning heads with his stellar defending the past two matches. First DtK had to green light the pipeline, then its up to Schelotto to show bravery with his decision making. So far it’s paid off.
What did Minnesota United do to shutdown the Galaxy’s attack? Why did LA struggle to find the goal in that game?
-MNUTD forced the Galaxy to play around Zlatan, and on a day when the still fresh grass at Allianz Field clearly wasn’t rooted to the ground, LA lacked the ability to possess the ball with their usual precision. That being said, LA are too dependent on aimless crosses and expecting Zlatan to shoulder the scoring burden at the moment.
How do you rate Guillermo Barros’ time in charge? How has he changed the team?
-The Schelotto twins and coaching staff have introduced a systematic style of play the squad buys into. Players have raved about understanding what to do on the field and having clarity on how to execute around the pitch.
Yes the performances have been mixed, but there is plenty of room for growth with this squad and the early results have gone the Galaxy’s way. In a matter similar to his time with Boca Juniors, Schelotto’s team has registered four victories by a single goal.
To read our response, head to LAG Confidential.