To get everyone ready for Atlanta United’s highly anticipated bout against the Los Angeles Zlatans, we spoke with LAG Confidential’s Mike Gray to get his take on the Galaxy’s start to the season, their offseason moves, and the one true god.
DSS: What’s been the good and bad from the Galaxy’s start to the season?
LC: The Bad: Rebuilding the roster had already put LA on the back foot before an offseason regimen designed to improve the player’s fitness may have created a mini-injury crisis. Romain Alessadrini, Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos were all out for extended periods with hamstring injuries, and as a result the Galaxy were in preseason gear the first month of the season.
The Good: Despite all the turmoil, the Galaxy are 2nd in the West.
DSS: Did LA make the offseason moves necessary to rebound from last season’s poor campaign and earn a playoff berth?
LC: Sigi has righted the ship for now. The Galaxy boss took no prisoners this offseason, jettising the failed youth movement in exchange for proven veterans from MLS and abroad(If Matt Doyle has any Jose Villarreal stock left, sell my man).
The roster is stacked, but unbalanced. LA have not been able to transition quickly enough, partly due to personnel but also because lineup and formation changes have stripped Sigi Schmid’s side of any cohesion. That being said, there’s enough talent in the attack to bother anyone, and that was B.Z. (Before Zlatan)
DSS: So this Zlatan Ibrahimovic fellow...has he changed the Galaxy considerably from a tactical standpoint since his arrival?
Originally, Sigi preferred subbing Ibra into the match with Ola Kamara up top in a classic 4-4-2, using Zlatan’s magnetic pull to make up for the lack of midfield numbers.
This was a successful tactic, but with Ibra starting vs. Chicago, could it work over the course of 90 minutes? The Galaxy looked the part, but hellish weather and a weakened opponent surely had an influence. With Gio nearing match fitness, it will be interesting to see how Sigi attempts to integrate dos Santos back into the lineup.
One thing’s for sure: No one has enjoyed Ibra’s time on the field more than Ashley Cole, who’s provided two game-winning assists in three games with pinpoint accuracy to the Swedish target striker.