Know Your Enemy: LA Galaxy
OTF’s Stephen Mangat loves it…
In his 1983 hit “I love LA”, Randy Newman sings “let’s leave Chicago to the Eskimos, that town’s a little too rugged.”
While one may debate that suggestion/statement, Newman’s particular love of Los Angeles is a bit insane. He sings about the Santa Ana winds (infamous for fanning wildfires) and a bum down on his knees, yet no mention of Landon Donovan?! Damn you, Randy Newman.
Randy Newman or not, it’s time to take a look at one of the City of Angels’ favorites and Chicago’s next opponent, the LA Galaxy …
PLAY THE MUSIC!!!
LA’s relatively slow start shouldn’t be taken seriously. The regular season doesn’t really matter much. In the end, Bruce Arena knows how to work towards MLS success.
So long as his team hits form toward the end of summer, Arena’s boys will make the playoffs and, with some luck, get a high seed. Nonetheless, expect a flat four in the back and four in midfield. Everyone will attack aggressively, though keeping possession is stressed as well.
While Jaime Penedo has been Panama’s #1 for years, he came to LA in August 2013 on a free transfer, which makes one wonder. He’s played well enough in 20+ appearances, yet his bio page on the Galaxy’s website lacks a photo and only consists of the words “HOW ACQUIRED: Signed on a free transfer on August 5, 2013.” Who is this man?
Omar Gonzalez will be with the USMNT and Kofi Opare may not be fit, so who knows who will be in the middle to partner with Leonardo. Tommy Meyer? On the outsides, AJ DeLaGarza and his oddly spelled last name (why no spaces?) will be paired with ex-Chicago Fire man Dan Gargan. Interesting to note that Gargan is good enough for the Galaxy, but couldn’t make the cut for Frank Klopas in Chicago.
The Speedy youngster Gyasi Zardes will be on the right and Juninho will be in the middle. Joining them will likely be ex-Chicago Fire man Baggio Husidic and Swede Stefan Ishizaki, though with Bruce Arena there’s always the possibility of some random dude getting a start. For example, Ishizaki sat last week for Kenney Walker.
LA’s attack is the best around with Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. While both are past their prime, they are still a constant threat with smart runs, quickness, good dribbling, smart passing, and solid finishing. Donovan and Keane are two of the best ever in this league, so beware.
How can Chicago win?
Stay compact in the back
Save for Gyasi Zardes, LA lacks game-breaking speed. Both Keane and Donovan are still fast, but they do most of their damage with quick feet and good runs. Therefore, the Fire need to stay tight in the back as there shouldn’t be much of a threat stationed out wide.
Get on the center midfielders
When LA’s center midfielders have time, they can pick out Donovan and Keane, which generally leads to problems for the opposition. When Juninho & co. are under pressure, their passes aren’t as good and Donovan and Keane must fight for the ball, which generally means good news for the opposition.
Motivate the team
Great team spirit and inspiration can go a long way to compensate for not having as much quality as your opponents. Atletico Madrid proved it this season, and Jurgen Klinsmann is hoping it’ll work this summer. Chicago Fire don’t have much going for them, but if Frank Yallop can get a strong, positive reaction from his team and the fans can get the players excited, one never knows what could happen.
Good luck, Fire fans. LA smoked the Philly Union last weekend, so things aren’t looking good for you and yours.
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OTF’s Stephen Mangat is a Philly Union season ticket holder and is blood type whiskey. Follow him @smangat12