Orlando – A Florida storm on Saturday, April 29, 2023, almost prevented the LA Galaxy from playing their away match against Orlando City. Indeed, the Galaxy probably wishes the game had been called off. They never threatened Orlando in a toothless, unorganized display that desperately called out for missing DP Riqui Puig’s creativity. The Galaxy’s Puig problem was laid bare for all in their 2-0 loss to the Lions. Without him, their attack looked as lethargic as the humidity was heavy. Over-reliance on Puig and a lack of width were LA’s downfall in the loss, their fifth in their opening nine matches.
LA Galaxy Post Match
Full-time from Orlando. pic.twitter.com/hHb2bnaJBw
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) April 30, 2023
The Galaxy’s Puig Problem
One of the hallmarks of the Galaxy’s season has been the ability to dominate possession. In their 2-0 home win over Austin last week, they were able to win by keeping the ball. In this way, they were able to limit attacks from the visitors. Even in losses, LA has been able to dictate the flow of matches, only to be outdone by poor transitional defending.
Puig has been at the heart of that and served as a focal point. The Galaxy DP buzzes around the field, linking up with his teammates to receive and distribute the ball. They look for him, almost to the point of over-reliance.
Against Orlando and without Puig, the Galaxy lost the possession battle and paid the price in transition. His replacement, Douglas Costa, got his first start and was nowhere to be found. His wastefulness in this match is just another sign that there probably won’t be a redemption story here. But his teammates weren’t much better. The Galaxy was beaten in possession, shots on goal, total passes, and pass accuracy.
— Mike Gray (@MikeGrayAFC) April 30, 2023
The Repeated First-Half Follies
LA got its first warning that the pressure would break them by giving up a set-piece goal that was overturned. After Facundo Torres had handled from a corner, midfielder Cesar Araujo struck a low drive to score what he thought was his first MLS goal. Referees caught Torres’ handball though, and correctly overturned the goal to keep the scores level. Five minutes later, Orlando would not be denied.
The Lions’ Antonio Carlos played a long ball out of the back for Micheal Halliday on the right channel. Halliday beat Boyd on the wing and sent in a low pass. That cross into the box found Ercan Kara, who stepped inside Galaxy Defender Jalen Neal to get a first-time shot off. His strike from a tight angle snuck through Galaxy Goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann’s legs and into the goal at the near post for the 1-0 OCSC lead.
“We needed to be a little bit more patient. Just move the ball quickly and establish ourselves in possession,” Vanney said of the first half. “They came pretty aggressive, and we were a little disrupted by how aggressive they were pressing us, and the ball just needed to move quicker from guy to guy. And, we were a little bit slow in that way. So, we never really established possession in ways we could.”
Accordingly, LA was just able to hang on to the one-goal deficit and make it into the half further unscathed.
Big opening goal for @OrlandoCitySC‘s big man.
Ercan Kara makes it 1-0.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 30, 2023
More Transition Troubles
Instead of half-time giving them a wake-up call, the Galaxy conceded again 15 minutes after the break. Meanwhile, Orlando’s second goal was a textbook Galaxy defensive breakdown. In fact, it was a quintessential Galaxy way to give up a goal.
After the Galaxy had recovered the ball in a good position, Gaston Brugman tried to force it through the Orlando City center and lost it. Orlando City picked the ball up and advanced with numbers. An efficient and clinical counter-attack was finished off after Martin Ojeda played Facundo Torres in behind the Galaxy back line for the 2-0 lead. Torres’ driven strike from just outside the six-yard box was parried by Klinsmann’s left hand, but was not strong enough to keep the ball out. Substitute Eriq Zavaleta tried desperately to clear the ball off the line, but failed.
“The second goal comes where we recover the ball, and we need to go wide, and we try to jam it right back up the middle, and it comes right back at us,” Vanney explained. “We needed to go wide, and establish our positions because we were spread a little bit. If we would have, we survived the moment for sure. And, you know, the game stays at 1-0.”
Although the Galaxy would have a well-worked goal called back for offside, that was about the only thing Galaxy fans could get excited for. However, LA could muster nothing else and limped to the 2-0 loss. It means more troubled times for the once-heralded franchise.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 30, 2023
How Much Longer Can We Trust Vanney or “Trust the Process”?
With only one win from nine matches, the angst is real. The Galaxy is second to last in MLS and has a coach unwilling to change. Vanney doesn’t have the players to play his preferred 4-3-3 system or a system with wingers, yet he persists. Furthermore, it’s led to a predictable offense and ineffective attack. With no reason that this team should be underperforming this badly, maybe the fault lies in management. Vanney’s overreliance on tactics that aren’t working, the Galaxy’s Puig problem, and players that aren’t producing (Costa), could cost him his job eventually.
6 – LA Galaxy’s 6 points through 9 matches are its fewest at this stage of a season since 1999 (also 6). The Galaxy reached the MLS Cup Final that year. Salvageable? pic.twitter.com/KX0QAEXma3
— OptaJack (@OptaJack) April 30, 2023
Defending the Badge – Julian Aude
In a game where not much went right, Julian Aude showed true grit. He flew up and down the left flank with aplomb, and even when he was beaten, he always raced to recover. Despite picking up a knock, the Argentine soldiered on until he was replaced in the 70-minute by Raheem Edwards. Only two games into his Galaxy career, it’s no wonder he was mentioned on yesterday’s broadcast as “one of the best left-backs in South America.”
Passing Acc 19/25
Ground duel 4/7
Long Ball 2/5
Shot Blocked 1
Clearance 2 pic.twitter.com/4zXkO89Hhq
— Argentina Latest News (@LatestTango) April 30, 2023
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