It’s the big one on Friday, no not that, I’m talking about El Trafico between Los Angeles Football Club and the LA Galaxy. Ahead of the teams’ first meeting of 2019, I spoke with our friend Mike Gray of SB Nation Galaxy site LAG Confidential about his team. Many thanks to Mike for taking the time to answer my questions!
Angels on Parade asks LAG Confidential:
1. The Galaxy are in a decent spot in the standings but they don’t feel like they are playing well. Is that a shared sentiment in the fanbase, and why have there been struggles even with a good coach and upgraded roster?
Absolutely. The fans are happy with LA’s defensive improvements and their spot in the Western Conference rankings, but impatient with a one-dimensional brand of football over-reliant on Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score goals. Ibra’s presence up top compromises LA’s ability to press or transition quickly, two problems LAFC certainly do not have. Despite an excellent appointment in Guillermo Barros Schelotto, ultimately poor roster building has been LA’s demise the past few years. You need three years to construct a team and Dennis te Kloese’s been on the job six months. The Galaxy are a top team when fully healthy, but the roster is uneven and LA lack depth across the park. The Galaxy have yet to put together a single consistent 90-minute performance this season. Strangely, this almost gives the squad a bit of confidence, knowing they can play at a level much higher than their collective talent.
2. On a similar note, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is scoring goals, but he seems to be...kiss of death alert here I’m knocking wood furiously struggling lately? Even Sebastian Lletget kind of called him out in public a few weeks back. Is this just a blip for player and team, a sign of terminal decline, or the team getting tired of the guy?
I think there’s two things going on here. 1) Zlatan is struggling to adapt to inferior service and the frustration which comes with that. 2) Zlatan knows his status as the highest-paid player in the league is dependent on him banging in the goals and that’s not happening. Like any competitor, it’s got to be killing him inside. As far as his teammates are concerned, I’d cut them some slack. Sometimes you just want to call out your teammates on their b.s., it’s a human reaction, and a healthy one.
3. I’d say LAFC fans are certainly jacked about this game but there’s a bit of trepidation coming in after what happened in the rivalry last season. I’m curious about the average Galaxy fan’s mindset coming in. Is there that confidence from not having lost yet, or nerves over potentially losing that mantle, or something else?
Galaxy fans have been unusually reserved this week, mostly due to a lifeless, embarrassing performance vs. our hated NorCal rivals. I think it’s a bit of an overreaction, the Quakes are red-hot and LA’s demise coincided with a rusty backline and an Uriel Antuna knock, but in conjunction with LAFC’s form, the supporters are understandably a bit on edge.
You can read my answers to Mike’s questions on LAG Confidential.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!