PHILADELPHIA— The LA Galaxy have gotten used to controlling the possession battle in games this season, but there is some belief that more physicality on both sides of the ball may lead to victories.
Following the team’s 3-1 defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps FC last Saturday, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was left frustrated about the lack of aggressiveness from his team. Now, as the Galaxy look ahead to their second match of their three-game, nine-day road trip against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday (4:30 pm PT, TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes, LIVECHAT), finding an aggressive mentality will be key.
“It’s something that we need to pull out from ourselves and, of course, we’re trying to get the aggressiveness out in the game. Even sometimes to foul, we don’t make a lot of fouls to be honest, we’re a nice and tidy team,” goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini told reporters following LA’s defeat in Vancouver. “Sometimes we need to be more nasty and that’s what happened against Houston and [Vancouver]. They played well, they were strong, they didn’t concede much and they were quick when they had to counter attack.
“I think that everyone has its own pros and cons and now we’re seeing these things and we need to improve,” Cudicini later added. “We need to improve, and the good thing about soccer, is that we have a game straight away on Wednesday to get better and do better.”
The Galaxy currently find themselves in last place in MLS in fouls committed with 99, seven fewer than the 18th place Montreal Impact, who have committed 106 fouls and are second to last in fouls suffered with 115. In their recent two-game losing streak, LA have committed just eight fouls - a club record low of two against Houston - and six against the Whitecaps. With nine games played, the Galaxy average a total of 7.6 fouls per game to date.
Although the numbers don’t classify the Galaxy as a “nasty” team, they might not tell the entire story.
“You want to set a tone early that we’re not going to be pushed around yet being smart. We have most of the ball in games and it’s hard to foul when we have the ball,” defender A.J. DeLaGarza told LAGalaxy.com following LA’s training session at Philadelphia University. “I guess that you can say that we’re not getting into tackles and not getting stuck in, but you can also look at the other side and say how many times we have had the most possession. Most games, we’ve had most of the possession and you have to take that into account.”
Looking ahead to their match against the physical Union, who are currently tied for fifth in MLS in fouls committed, the Galaxy understand the first goal will be key as they look to dictate the tempo.
“The first goal is important,” midfielder Marcelo Sarvas told LAGalaxy.com. “We are creating, we have a lot of crosses and a lot of possession and we have to get the first goal then the game will go our way.”
Regardless of what the Galaxy need to improve: aggressiveness, sharpness in front of goal or some other team, the team believes that they’ll need a much more complete showing to win at PPL Park.
“We’re not doing what we’re good at and that’s scoring goals, defending and getting shutouts. We’ve been accustomed to over two years and we’re not doing it enough in these last two games,” said DeLaGarza. “It’s a big game and we have to our confidence back up heading into New York. You don’t want to lose two games let alone three so we’re going to come out and give it everything that we got.”