With OCSC playing the Galaxy, I took the time to speak with Alicia Rodriguez, managing editor of SBNation’s LAG Confidential. As usual, Alicia gave us a great update on how the Galaxy have been doing since the two teams last met.
Greg Vanney now has a full season with the Galaxy under his belt. What have you come to expect from the team under him in terms of setup and style of play?
Alicia Rodriguez: It’s a work in progress, but Vanney has the benefit of the doubt in terms of doing this before, and very successfully, with Toronto FC. And I don’t see any real differences between his teams in LA and those in Toronto: He generally uses a default formation (this season it’s been a 4-3-3) but the approach game to game differs depending on the opponent. Opening the season against NYCFC, the Galaxy played cautiously and were rewarded with a late winner; the next week, they came at Charlotte FC and got the road win; and last week they did a mix of sitting back and playing on the front foot in a narrow loss at the Seattle Sounders.
Everything is a work in progress, frankly, but there are signs of growth on both sides of the ball, and we’re hoping that continues, along with the results more often than not.
The 2022 season has been the full Chicharito experience so far, with the striker playing every minute through three games and scoring two goals. If he stays fit and among the goal leaders this year, how far do you think this team can go?
AR: I think the team is working to both leverage Chicharito’s considerable talents and to not be solely reliant on his contributions, considering he’s missed months of action in both of his first two seasons in MLS. Vanney found a backup striker who didn’t come cheap in Dejan Joveljic; uses a playmaker — usually Victor Vazquez, but Efrain Alvarez is getting some run — and acquired winger Douglas Costa to raise the level for 2022. Chicharito needs service, and under Vanney he’s getting it most of the time, which is good. And yes, if he can stay healthy, he should be in the mix for the MLS Golden Boot this season, especially since he’s off to a good start.
But I think Vanney has done the right thing in building the supporting cast. In theory, Joveljic, Costa, young Designated Player Kevin Cabral, Vazquez, Alvarez, Sacha Kljestan, Rayan Raveloson, and Samuel Grandsir are going to be counted on to score some goals, too, some more than others. If Chicharito is productive all season, and the other attackers do their part as well, then the ceiling could be pretty high for this team — perhaps as high as dark horse contenders come the end of the season.
Douglas Costa has started all three games for the Galaxy and got his first goal in last week’s loss to Seattle. How has he looked so far?
AR: I think it’s a promising start, but he’s still getting up to speed with his new team. He’s getting minutes, he doesn’t look like he expected to coast, and the debut goal are all good signs. In looking at his previous history, he wasn’t especially productive on the goals and assists front, to be honest, but I think the hope was moving to MLS would give him a production boost, and scoring, via free kick no less, is great. I doubt he’ll be anywhere close to 20 goals this season, but so far he seems to be doing the right things and there’s no doubt he is raising the level of this team.
Are there any injuries or suspensions that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
AR: It’s too early in the week to give an updated injury report but the squad has started the season pretty healthy, with the starters by and large being fit and available.
Lineup (4-3-3): Jonathan Bond; Julian Araujo, Sega Coulibaly, Nick DePuy, Raheem Edwards; Mark Delgado, Rayan Raveloson, Efrain Alvarez; Douglas Costa, Chicharito, Kevin Cabral.
(No score prediction provided.)
Thanks again to Alicia for the awesome update on the Galaxy. Vamos Orlando!