Home Galaxy The LA Galaxy Are Stacking Draws, Making Improvements

The LA Galaxy Are Stacking Draws, Making Improvements

2 min read
The thrill of the beginning of the season has dissipated after the LA Galaxy collected four consecutive draws in their last four matches.
Should supporters demand more from Will Kuntz and Greg Vanney’s team, or should high expectations cloud some impressive improvements?

The LA Galaxy are coming off of a period in which they’ve earned just four points across four games.

Their last victory came almost a month ago in the form of a 4-3 home win over the San Jose Earthquakes on April 21st. Since then, the Galaxy lost in Austin, drew away in Seattle, drew again at home against Real Salt Lake, and most recently picked up a pair of road draws against Minnesota United FC and Charlotte FC. 

A month without a win is absolutely cause for concern and disappointment. Supporters came into that stretch expecting six points from the three matches against RSL, Minnesota, and Charlotte. Instead, the Galaxy earned just three

As pointed out by Twitter user @LAGalaxy310, it is frustrating to consistently drop points. But as they also mentioned, any points earned were likely out of the Galaxy’s reach just one year ago. 

The LA Galaxy’s 2023 campaign was tied for the worst in club history. They conceded 67 goals in 34 games and only managed a measly 36 points by the end of October.  To have remained at that level would have been catastrophic. 

Fortunately, the supporter-group-led boycott resulted in what is already looking like one of the most significant acquisitions ever for the club. 

Will Kuntz hopped on the freeway and joined the LA Galaxy in April 2023 after six seasons at LAFC. In just over a year at the helm, the new-look Galaxy have already risen high above the trenches of 2023.

It may be difficult to feel the improvements when the results have been consistently disappointing.

Still, a quick comparison of this year’s numbers to the last quickly reveals the most improved element of the Galaxy’s game. 

The Galaxy have added plenty of travel miles to their cards this year, as nine of their 15 matches have been away from Dignity Health Sports Park. This road-heavy start to the season cast a shadow over the Galaxy’s expectations for 2024. A big reason for this preemptive disillusion was likely the team’s away form the year before. 

In their first nine road games of 2023, the LA Galaxy claimed a single victory and lost five times on their way to a 1-5-3 (W, L, D) away record. They left behind 19 points on their travels, only able to blame themselves, rather than any underpaid and overworked baggage handlers, for the points they failed to bring back. With just six earned during those nine matches, the Galaxy managed to keep just 22% of the total points available to them.

Recreating this depressing run of form may have pushed Angelenos away from the Galaxy about as much as the boycott did. Kuntz and Greg Vanney have built a much stronger team in 2024 and managed to prevent a second exodus.

During the same nine-game stretch, the LA Galaxy have won three times as many games this year, resulting in a 3-2-4 away record. They’ve more than doubled their point tally, earning 13 compared to last year’s paltry six. This improvement has resulted in the Galaxy taking 48%, nearly half, of all available points on the road. 

Long story short, the LA Galaxy are twice as good on the road this year as they were last year.

This uptick in form sees the Galaxy up in fifth place, down from first place earlier in the season. Even at this relatively low point of the year, the Galaxy are competing in another stratosphere compared to last year.

This dramatic increase in results mirrors an increase in the Galaxy’s apparent drive and willingness to sacrifice themselves for the result. Despite only managing one point in each of their recent games, Vanney’s players have shown an impetus that may have been foreign to supporters in 2023. 

As Dwayne Johnson eloquently put it:

It’s about drive; it’s about power, we stay hungry, we devour. Put in the work, put in the hours, and take what’s ours.”

This message seems to have gotten across to the Galaxy players, who are beginning to show signs of the grit many have felt the team has lacked.

Their motivation has resulted in Los Angeles stealing twice as many points from their road rivals as they did last year.

With the Galaxy improving from consistent road losses to consistent road draws in the span of a year under Will Kuntz, it might not be unreasonable to expect the next step forward to be turning these draws into consistent wins.

The Galaxy front office under Kuntz has looked more than capable of identifying and acquiring players that can fuel that sort of progress, but they are hampered by the fleeting nature of the transfer window. Seeing as they are forced to wait to improve the squad with new signings, it is up to the Galaxy’s current roster to step up if they aim to advance further in their progression without waiting another year. 

With designated player Joseph Paintsil out for multiple weeks with a hamstring strain (his time at Genk this year means he has already played more than a season’s worth of football) and Dejan Joveljic in and out of the squad with another injury, the onus to drive this progress falls on other players. 

As Riqui Puig continues dazzling against all opponents, young designated player Gabriel Pec has come under heightened scrutiny. His performance in Charlotte left many wishing for more, as Pec was easily the player with the most potential to shift the result in his team’s favor.

Despite the criticism of his end product, it is worth remembering that Gabriel Pec recently turned just 23 and is living in a foreign country for the first time in his young life. His age alone is enough to reasonably infer that plenty of aspects of Pec’s game will still need refining. Add to that assumption the challenges that come with assimilation and dealing with intense pressure, and the reasons behind some of the inaccuracies in his play become clear. 

This isn’t to excuse Pec, who probably does need to finish more of his chances, but to suggest that it may be too early to expect the output associated with a more mature player like Joseph Paintsil. Gabriel Pec is extremely talented and often looks like one of the very few bright spots within the team. With just 13 matches played in his MLS career and nearly the entirety of his four-year contract ahead of him, there is plenty of time for Pec to become the consistent killer that Galaxy fans so desperately want him to be.

This Saturday offers Pec another chance to remind supporters that he is a player worth waiting just a little bit longer for.
Being back in front of the home crowd at DHSP might just be the push he needs to help turn a draw into a win against the Houston Dynamo on May 25th. Kickoff will be at 7:39 PM PST.

PHOTO: Los Angeles Galaxy

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