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Why The LA Galaxy Are Not Contenders… Yet

The Los Angeles Galaxy’s come-from-behind 3-2 win at Rio Tinto Stadium this week sent the MLS crowd into a frenzy, proclaiming “The Galaxy are back!” and “they are who we thought they were!”.  To be honest, some of this was occurring as early as last Sunday on the heels of LA’s win over a struggling Portland team.  With maximum points from their last two contests, it looks like the preseason favorites could be building what we call a winning streak and beginning to assert themselves in the playoff race.  Ever the contrarian, however, I want to provide another perspective to this story: the Galaxy are not back.  At least not yet.  Here are a few reasons why we should take all of these stories with a grain of salt and one scenario that must occur for the “Galaxy is back” story to be true:

  1. The two wins were the result of poor teams and poor play:  The first win of the week was a 1-0 snoozer at home against a Portland team that is struggling to string together goals.  Credit Josh Saunders for returning and picking up where he left off, which allowed the Galaxy to get the shutout.  But this game could have been very different if Danny Mwanga had been granted a penalty when he was taken down from behind.  As for the RSL result, the Galaxy benefited from an absurdly good night from Landon Donovan and some very poor play from the home team.  Are both quality wins? Sure, more so the away victory.  But did LA dominate either? Not really.
  2. The schedule doesn’t get any easier from here: I couldn’t disagree more with the usually astute Noah Davis and his analysis of the Galaxy’s schedule.  To be blunt, LA has a nightmare set of game coming up, and if they don’t string together a few more wins soon, this discussion will be rendered moot.  Saturday, the Galaxy are at home to Vancouver, but the Whitecaps look like a serious playoff team this year and have the players up front to unsettle LA’s defense.  That game is followed by a visit to another playoff contender that is a bad match-up, San Jose, before relief comes in the form of Philadelphia at home.  After that it gets brutal: a five game stretch in July that goes at Chicago, at Portland, at Vancouver, home to Chivas, at a (potentially) healthier Dallas.  The travel alone will tax this team’s already thin depth.
  3. The roster is not improved: Much has been made of the returns of Donovan and Keane from international duty as well as Josh Saunder’s admirable comeback.  But that covers the fact that this spring with these players Los Angeles was still a team outside the playoff picture.  Donovan has had a down year for him, and the team will lose Beckham for the London Olympics in a few weeks.  The depth, and the back line, has not added new and improved talent, so why should we expect markedly different results from this roster?
So how can we tell if the Galaxy are truly back?  It won’t be a few more wins, but it will be on Landon Donovan.  Much like the U.S. national team, Donovan is the talisman that helps spur his teammates and can make opponents pay for their mistakes (see Wednesday).  The Galaxy are a team at a higher level when Donovan plays at a higher level; the same can be said of Beckham but as mentioned that will not be possible with his absence this summer.  If the Galaxy are to survive their murderous stretch of schedule during June and July, and thus reassert themselves as contenders, they’ll need Captain America to lead the way.

9 Responses to Why The LA Galaxy Are Not Contenders… Yet

  1. The original Tom says:

    In the MLS there are a few players that are far superior to the
    others and their state of mind and health can transform a team.
    Donovan and Beckham are in that category. So is Henry. Hence the
    inconsistency. It will be fun to see if they have turned a corner,
    they were the best opponent I’ve seen in
    Colorado.—————— Something I like about the MLS all star
    game is the dilemma regarding picking the best team to win on the
    night, or picking players as a reward for good seasons. Donovan may
    not have had a good season, but he is still the league’s best
    player.

  2. Charles says:

    Their D still stinks. You can get excited all you want about
    shutting out the Timbers, but the Timbers have scored 12 goals in
    13 games. When CCL starts, LA will be in trouble big time. You
    can’t afford injuries to your most valuable player. Do we need to
    bring up examples ? Dallas, SLC, maybe even Seattle just last year.
    This is especially true with a very thin team like LA. You knew
    they were thin, last year, but they won, this year….no.

  3. andy says:

    the players just don’t try very hard during the regular season.
    Since over half of them make the playoffs teams do what they do to
    make post-season. LA Galaxy are just “meh”. They figure they won it
    all last season so it will be no problem to stroll into the post
    season and then turn it on. I think they will make the post season.

    • Charles says:

      Pretty confident you have not seen them play this year. You have no
      idea what you are talking about. Seems more like a post to voice an
      opinion on playoffs…….we will go with that so you can save
      face.

  4. scummers says:

    what do you expect from a bunch of soft overpaid overhyped sissies

  5. The original Tom says:

    They won the SS and the cup last year. Motivated then, but perhaps
    not now. I have not seen them except the Colorado game. Maybe more
    injuries? Does Donovan want to leave? Still my favorite team to
    watch, sucks if the stars go to NY Redbulls because Colorado only
    plays them once a year.

  6. Eplnfl says:

    The second season is what matters to them. As in all American
    sports the playoffs are the season. They just have to healthy by
    playoff time. Look at the teams that have to run into the NFL
    playoffs but win he Super Bowl. LA will be in the final 4. After
    that luck takes over.

  7. Alan says:

    I love how all of these people just know that the Galaxy only care
    about the playoffs. Of course, look at their season records the
    last 2 years. They finished top in the league for the regular
    season. I guess this year is just different and they will never
    care about the regular season again. *sarcasm* Of course, if a good
    team in Europe does poorly at the start of the season one year,
    then that is different of course. “After that, luck takes over.”
    So, Man City winning when they were tied for points with Man U was
    not luck? Seriously, what a bunch of morons.

    • Charles says:

      Ditto on the moron comment……….Did you see LA San Jose this
      weekend sold out Stanford stadium, the same morons who told me MLS
      was doomed, were dead wrong…again. They seriously have not had
      one thing they troll about come true. Non stop sellouts every week
      across the league, in the normal home stadiums, in addition the
      league has had noteable huge attendance numbers in Montreal,
      Toronto, I think Vancouver, Seattle drew 47k on a Wednesday during
      a slump, now San Jose. Portland gets 3k for their reserve games
      now.

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