The LA Galaxy returned home from another productive road trip with the three points they won off of Sporting Kansas City.

Martin Cáceres is expected to return from a red card suspension when LA hosts the winless Seattle Sounders.


Although it wasn’t perfect, the LA Galaxy’s come-from-behind 3-2 win against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, March 23rd, is the latest in a series of memorable Galaxy games. 

After making very few changes throughout the first few matches, Greg Vanney had the opportunity to dip into the squad’s depth against SKC. 

Eriq Zavaleta stepped up for Martin Cáceres, who did not travel with the team as he served a suspension for the late red card he picked up against St. Louis

A much more exciting change to the starting lineup was Gabriel Pec getting his first start over Diego Fagundez. Despite not playing poorly, the left-wing Fagundez plays on has lagged behind in terms of production relative to the striker and right-wing positions. Julian Aude has contributed more on that side, with two assists in five matches from left back. With Pec fully settled after getting married recently, it was a prime opportunity to give him the start.

Despite settling things at home, the Galaxy’s performance in the first half revealed that Pec’s relationships on the pitch still need to be deepened. To his credit, most of LA’s deficiencies in this match were not on him. 

The Galaxy have conceded more goals than any other side in MLS so far this season and added two more to their tally before the end of the first half against Sporting. Corner kicks in the 34th and 48th minute gave the home side a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

After the half, Gaston Brugman came on for Edwin Cerillo in the 62nd minute. The Galaxy found their first goal just 10 minutes after the change. Eriq Zavaleta found himself in a great position to kick the ball home after it bobbled around the box following a set piece. 

The following eight minutes saw the LA Galaxy go on a tear. After getting a goal ruled out by offside, Dejan Joveljic made history by matching Brian McBride’s 1998 record of 5 goals in his team’s first five MLS matches. His goal would level the match 2-2 in the 75th minute.

After another excellent performance in midfield, Mark Delgado ended up making the difference in this match. Gabriel Pec received the ball out on the left and drove towards Kansas City’s goal. SKC Goalkeeper Tim Melia seemed to get a slight touch to Pec’s low-driven shot but not enough to take it out of the path of the onrushing Mark Delgado. By following the play and running until the very last moment, Delgado’s effort gave the Galaxy the 3-2 win.

Despite the positive result, the team struggled to connect defense and attack, mainly due to Riqui Puig maintaining a deep position just in front of his own box. 

Seeing Puig so profound has been common this year as he drops to receive the ball and help the Galaxy advance while they progress from the back. Although it goes without saying that you don’t want your team’s most creative attacker in your own defensive third, that’s exactly where Puig has been instructed to go when the Galaxy is building up from the back. 

Many blamed Edwin Cerillo and his relative timidness going forward for obligating Puig to drop so deep, but looking at the Galaxy’s patterns of play after he was subbed off for Gaston Brugman reveals that Puig will drop whenever the Galaxy take a short goal kick and build up from the back, regardless of the holding midfielder that’s on.

The difference comes in Cerillo’s and Brugman’s general positioning. Cerillo takes his holding role seriously, sparingly advancing beyond the halfway line. Brugman, on the other hand, is much more comfortable holding a higher line, allowing the Galaxy to control the game in a much more threatening position. 

It seems the entire team takes a confident step forward when Brugman enters the pitch. This notable difference may encourage Vanney to give Brugman his first start of 2024 this Saturday, March 30th, against the Seattle Sounders.

Perennial Western Conference giant Seattle Sounders are experiencing a significant off-year. They are currently winless and in 28th place in MLS, according to fbref.com, with a 0-2-2 record.

A big part of Seattle’s woes in 2024 have been their injuries. Their MLS Player Matchday Report features essential players such as João Paulo, Pedro de la Vega, Léo Chú, Reed Baker-Whiting, and Obed Vargas, who won’t be available for their match against the Galaxy.

With limited options, it becomes easy to identify the threats LA should keep an eye on. Jordan Morris hasn’t had the best year, but his contributions should be essential for Seattle’s progression. 

Even more important will be newly-crowned all-time Seattle Sounders leading goal scorer Raúl Ruidíaz. According to Seattle Sounders reporter Niko Moreno on the latest episode of La Cuna Galaxiana, “Whether it’s his link-up play, his hold-up play, or his finishing skills, he will have to be on for Seattle to have any sort of chance. If Raúl is not on, Seattle is not scoring goals… it’s that simple.”

Recent form would suggest that Ruidíaz will need a special performance to lift this Seattle side, as they have struggled to score from open play this season. However, the Galaxy’s tendency to concede from set pieces may offer the Sounders an unexpected way into this match.

While entering this match in much brighter spirits than their opponents, the Galaxy have shown they still have plenty to work on. They remain unbeaten but have also continuously failed to keep a clean sheet. The home match against the Seattle Sounders offers an interesting opportunity for the LA Galaxy to break either streak. 

Kickoff is at 7:39 PST from Dignity Health Sports Park and streaming on MLS+. 


PHOTO: LA Galaxy

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