The LA Galaxy were an epic Greek Tragedy personified in 2018. Zlatan Ibrahimovic bust onto the scene, in the early part of the season, scoring a brace to win the first ever El Trafico match against new crosstown rival Los Angeles FC. The Dos Santos brothers sleep-walked through the first half of the year to save themselves for the World Cup. Giovani dos Santos maintained his disinterest and apparent injury while Jonathan grew into being a quality solo No. 6 in the midfield.
The defense struggled from start to finish. No matter the tactical or personnel changes by the late Sigi Schmid (rest in peace), they were bad. A late season coaching change saw Dominic Kinnear take over and simplify things. The club went to a simple 4-4-2, protecting the back line and providing a wave of service to Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara up top. Ultimately a Decision Day meltdown against Houston Dynamo prevented them from making the playoffs.
Tactics & Key Players:
The 2019 LA Galaxy begin and ends with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Expect the team to come out in a 4-4-2 like last year, but with a few different nuances under the new leadership. While it will mostly start out as a flat 4-4-2, it could look like a 4-1-4-1 at times or 4-4-1-1 depending on personnel and situation.
Regardless of shape, the Galaxy under Guillermo Barros Schelotto will have a clear plan for the first time in years. All the news out of preseason is that the training staff has been kicking the squad into shape like never before. This team is going to be up tempo, they’re going to hold onto the ball, and they’re going to protect the back line by making the opponent defend.
This season is set to be a breakout year for Sebastian Lletget as well, who’s finally healthy and ready to be a starting center mid in MLS. Jonathan dos Santos will likely be the roaming defensive midfielder. Tactically, expect the wingers and fullbacks to link up more than last year. All of this is set up for the ball to move seamlessly through the midfield and find Ibrahimovic in the final third. If he doesn’t get open, it’ll be because he’s drawing attention to allow someone else to get open and score.
The biggest moves for the Galaxy this off-season were in the front office. President Chris Klein is pretty much the only person still in the front office from three years ago. He brought in former Mexican Football Federation youth director Dennis te Kloese. Te Kloese then brought in GBS off of managing Boca Juniors to the Copa Libertadores finals.
In terms of players department, it’s all old guys who weren’t useful for MLS Fantasy to begin with. The only significant player additions are Diego Polenta and Uriel Antuna. Expect both to play regular minutes in 2019. Polenta’s the one defensive upgrade new leadership made and Antuna will be given the chance to start as a wide midfielder opposite Romain Alessandrini. Juninho has returned to the Galaxy having won three MLS Cups with the Galaxy. He’s probably a backup at this point, but if JDS gets hurt, expect him to step in seamlessly. Assuming he’s still with the team by the time the season starts (lol having too many DPs), Giovani dos Santos is the first winger off the bench.
This team is going to score goals. I have no idea how average or bad this defense could be, but you can’t go wrong with anyone of the main four offensive players on this squad. Ibrahimovic will cost you a premium but is well worth it, especially with a favorable matchup. Alessandrini will be an assist and chance creation machine. If they’re under $10 million, Kamara and Lletget will be worth consideration as well depending on the week.
Everything else is wait and see. The defense could be terrible, it could be OK. If Daniel Steres or Dave Romney can become regular starters, they’ll be cheap ($5-6 million) Switcheroo options. Keep an eye on Polenta and Antuna. David Bingham’s going to rack up the save bonus points this year, but there will be better goalkeeper options elsewhere.
This is a long term prediction. Emma Boateng could see time on the wing if Antuna takes some time getting used to MLS. Jorgen Skjelvik has been the main experiment at left back with Ashley Cole gone. If he doesn’t work out, expect Romney to take that role.
Chances are these decisions won’t affect your Fantasy team too much. As previously stated, the front four of Ibrahimovic, Kamara, Alessandrini, and Lletget are locked in starters and going to put up numbers regardless of what goes on around them.