Home Galaxy RECAP: LA Galaxy Drop to Second Place After Losing in Austin, 2-0

RECAP: LA Galaxy Drop to Second Place After Losing in Austin, 2-0

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The Los Angeles Galaxy were overwhelmed by Austin FC during a 2-0 loss in their most recent road trip.

If it wasn’t clear when Greg Vanney said it after last week’s game against San Jose, last Saturday’s loss to Austin FC proved that the Galaxy have a LOT of maturing to do.

The positive feelings of the 4-3 win seemed to put the entire organization in an overconfidence-induced trance. Even the media department, which had been on fire all year, had its first stumble last Saturday, April 27th.

A graphic featuring Jalen Neal in the starting eleven was posted and deleted about an hour before kickoff, leaving many fans online confused about the young American’s status. Although Neal did finally make his return after playing his last match in July 2023, he did not start in his first game back in almost a year.

This should not have been that surprising, given that Greg Vanney has never been one to encourage players to rush their recoveries.

Vanney prefers to ease back players returning from injury, even in the best-case scenarios.

With Neal’s persistent injury requiring such an extensive and long recovery, it’s easy to see why Vanney would opt to integrate him back into the starting lineup gradually.

Another pre-match surprise came with the sudden news that Dejan Joveljic had been dropped from the lineup entirely with an unspecified thigh injury. Miguel Berry started in his place.

As the match kicked off, it seemed there wasn’t enough coffee or maté to overcome the 10:45 am kickoff time.

The Galaxy’s play could generally be described as sleepy in the opening minutes.

For their part, Austin came out of the gates already in fifth gear. Their incredibly tight pressure prevented the Galaxy from finding their groove while allowing Austin to dictate the direction of play almost immediately.

This game’s first goal came early through Colombian striker Jáder Obrian. After Austin’s press forced Mark Delgado into a sloppy giveaway in midfield, Sebastián Driussi immediately began driving at the Galaxy’s out-of-position back line, forcing them into an unorganized scramble back.

Just a couple of quick touches later, Driussi played a great one-two with Diego Rubio, who slotted it into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0 Austin in the 7th minute.

Martin Cáceres reacted by immediately losing his cool during a corner to earn the game’s first yellow in silly fashion just nine minutes in. The caution would go on to pave the way for Jalen Neal to come onto the pitch in the second half. Neal kept a personal clean sheet throughout his first 45 minutes back. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done by the time he came on as Obrian turned goal-scorer in the 19th minute.

Even with Neal’s return helping to stop the bleeding, the Galaxy were never able to mark their presence in this match. Austin performed admirably, showing a cohesive and physically dominant performance.

It seemed almost every player, even those in attack, were happy to sacrifice themselves and chase down every ball, knowing they had ten other players doing the same behind them. This is the sort of playstyle that Greg Vanney is referring to when he calls for more mature play from the Galaxy.

Paradoxically, it seems the LA Galaxy are banking on youth to bring them the maturity they need.

Jalen Neal has reintroduced an almost forgotten sense of calm to the back line. With Maya Yoshida and Martin Cáceres on the pitch, the threat of getting exposed by pure pace was always there. Neal’s youthful energy and speed have already begun saving the team from going into panic mode and scrambling back on a few occasions.

The integration of new signing Emiro Gárces will have a similar effect, as he will be bringing another quality the Galaxy has sparingly little of: height. His ability to win aerial duels will add a crucial dimension to a defensive unit that was struggled greatly with set pieces.

Although Gárces has yet to be officially announced, the Galaxy will still have to prove that they’ve matured against the Seattle Sounders.

The LA Galaxy travel north to face Seattle on Sunday, May 5th at 3:45 PM PST. 


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