The Los Angeles Galaxy is surely hoping that opening their season this weekend at Dignity Health Sports Park means home comforts. They return to LA after an opening-day loss to FC Dallas and a match-day two 0-0 draw vs. SKC. Two very uninspired and lackluster displays on the road later, the Galaxy finally has a chance to play in front of their home fans. Despite how many of those fans might not be in attendance because of a planned supporter protest against the FO. This LA Galaxy predicted lineup will explore who could be in line for this crucial match.
LA will try to jump-start its season when it plays against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, March 18. If they debut their season with anything less than three points, the discontent will grow palpably. The Galaxy needs the victory, and not just for the points on the field.
LA Galaxy Predicted Lineup vs. Vancouver Whitecaps for Home Opener
Excited to see you 𝕲’s back at home this Saturday 💚 💛 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/SjXygNNoef
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) March 12, 2023
How LA Galaxy Have Lined-up Recently
It’s no secret that the Galaxy is playing with an ad-hoc lineup. Aside from Tyler Boyd, who hasn’t played much, there is no natural winger on the field.
That hasn’t stopped Los Angeles Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney from setting up his team in a system dependent on wingers. In the opening matches, he’s lined the Galaxy up in a 4-3-3 that resembles a 4-5-1 when they’re on defense. They haven’t had much success with it. LA didn’t really create many chances in either game, with Dejan Joveljić only getting three touches in the opposing box over the two games. Worse, opposing teams have recognized that the Galaxy plays very narrowly because they lack wing play and have worked to stretch them defensively using this tactic.
Read More: Three Talking Points: Whitecaps Draw Dallas at Home
LA Galaxy Recent Form and Tactics
Injuries to LA’s DPs make options in providing the width they need to be successful scarce. Vanney has used Memo Rodriguez and Efraín Álvarez to little effect on the wings, the former being more dangerous over both games. The fact that neither defensive back is providing width at the moment either doesn’t help matters. Raheem Edwards isn’t having his best moment on either side of the ball and Kelvin Leerdam has not added much to the attack. Although Leerdam is defensively sound, he just does not have Julian Araujo’s attacking threat. Since no one is stretching the field, it makes it incredibly hard to get service into Joveljić.
“I think we missed a little bit of the speed and the stretch and the players who put the back line on notice because if they get tight or get high, you’re going to go in behind them. And that softens things up for our midfield to be able to play as well,” Vanney said of the lack of width against SKC. “And the guy who suffers the most sometimes is the striker because you don’t have players who are getting in behind and moving center backs, forcing center backs to have to track different runs through the back line, things like that. So it’s sometimes hard to get into the striker in those situations.”
Joveljić has indeed suffered. Instead of finally being able to seize his moment as a starter, the Serbian Striker stuttered. He has a goal in two games, but his inability to find the ball in the first two games despite lack of width has to be worrying Vanney. He’ll need to score this Saturday against Vancouver, or he’ll need to start looking behind him for Preston Judd.
The one bright spot so far this season for the Galaxy has been the emergence of Jalen Neal. After an assured showing in his first MLS start, the center back position is his to lose. He certainly did enough to maintain his place in an LA Galaxy predicted lineup.
Read More: 2023 LA Galaxy Season Preview: Riqui Shoots for MVP
In his first @MLS start for the #LAGalaxy, Homegrown defender Jalen Neal logged 90 minutes, tallied a game-high five blocks and completed 58 of 60 passes attempted (96.7% pass accuracy) in the shutout against Sporting KC. pic.twitter.com/H2rFbKHc5i
— Kevin Acevedo (@acevedokev) March 12, 2023
LA Galaxy Injuries to Consider; DPs still missing
Is a Galaxy DP always injured? Or does it just seem that way? This time, Captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández is out, as is Winger Douglas Costa. Add Center Back Sega Coulibaly to the list of Galaxy players out, and you have three potential starters unavailable for LA.
“Javier [Hernández], Douglas [Costa], Séga [Coulibaly], and also Chase [Gasper] – they’ll all be back into some version of on the field this week. So we’ll see on the day-to-day who can get themselves ready for next weekend. But they’re all making progress as to getting back on the field for return to play,” Vanney said when asked to give an injury report.
It will be a race against time for any of these players to be fit for the home opener. With the congested fixture list LA has this season and lack of bodies, Vanney can’t afford a serious long-term injury to these players. He might be better off letting his captain and co., get healthy.
Here's what my heart tells me the #lagalaxy starting lineup is going to be Saturday vs. #VWFC . What do you think @LAGalaxy fam? Do you think I got my predicted lineup right? #vamosgalaxy #mls #MLSSeasonPass pic.twitter.com/IGQWTswgZe
— El Escudero de LA (@ElEscuderoDeLA) March 15, 2023
LA Galaxy Predicted Lineup
4-3-3 Bond; Edwards, Cáceres, Neal, Leerdam; Brugman, Delgado, Puig; Rodriguez, Joveljić, Boyd
This one was a battle between what the head knows will happen and what the heart wants. In a just world, someone else will have a crack at the right wing. Álvarez has not been able to replicate his preseason form through two games so far, while Memo has had dangerous moments. This means the time is ripe for Boyd to get his shot on the right. His inclusion should be the only major surprise on LA Galaxy opening day at home.