MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 4 – LA Galaxy defender stands strong in Vancouver

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Week 4 might have been quiet in terms of games played as a result of the international break, but one particular performance made a lot of noise. Just three of the 12 teams in actions kept a clean sheet in Week 4, but only one of those came from a travelling team.

LA Galaxy did well to hold Vancouver Whitecaps to a 0-0 draw at BC Place on Saturday night, especially when you consider they only dressed 17 players for the trip as a result of a huge absentee list. The standout performer – both on the night for LA and overall in MLS this weekend – was Daniel Steres. He is the MLSGB Defensive Player of the Week after a commanding display in the Galaxy backline.

As the graphic above demonstrates, Steres was incredible at the back for the Galaxy. He completed 2/2 tackles, 4/4 interceptions and made 11 clearances to help keep Vancouver out. Of those 11 clearances, nine were headed clearances, further highlighting how commanding Steres was, despite having to face off against Kei Kamara.

Steres also won all four of his aerial duels on the night and was effective at distributing the ball to teammates out of defence. The graphic below shows all of his actions during Saturday’s game. He completed 34 of the 41 passes he attempted, with the seven incomplete passes all coming from ambitious long balls down the right-side.

A detailed look at Daniel Steres’ Week 4 performance at Vancouver Whitecaps – Stats via @StatsZone

The green circles above highlight where Steres made his clearances, while the green diamonds show interceptions. Just looking at those alone shows how dominant he was in crucial defensive areas.

The 27-year-old defender sat out of the Galaxy’s first game of the season and only got his chance in Week 2 following the injury to Michael Ciani. However, he has impressed in the 136 minutes he has completed so far, with his first start at Vancouver proving that he does perhaps deserve more starts.

Don’t miss: MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 4

LA Galaxy have the huge derby clash with LAFC to prepare for next. And with Ciani still struggling with a groin injury, Steres will need to come up big to stop the likes of Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela from stealing the show in the league’s first LA Derby between the new rivals.

Advertisements

In pictures: Vancouver Whitecaps 0-0 LA Galaxy – Shorthanded Galaxy battle for a draw at Vancouver

The Vancouver Whitecaps headed into Saturday’s home game with LA Galaxy as overwhelming favourites, given the Galaxy’s long list of absences. The visitors had just 17 players in their matchday squad – including three goalkeepers – but put in a solid display to earn a 0-0 draw at BC Place.

Vancouver will be disappointed with their lack of attacking quality over the course of the 90 minutes. But they still picked up a first clean sheet of the season and stretched their unbeaten home run to a club MLS record 11 matches.

In a game of few clear-cut chances, the best fell to Yordy Reyna in the first-half. The Whitecaps attacker got in behind the Galaxy defence but David Bingham made himself big and made a crucial block to keep the shot out.

The draw sees the Whitecaps sit joint-top of the Western Conference with Sporting Kansas City. However, Vancouver are just one of six MLS teams to have played four games through the first four weeks of the 2018 season. So their rivals have games in hand at this early stage.

LA Galaxy sit 7th in the West with four points from three games. They have a huge game to prepare for next weekend, with the first LA Derby coming up as LAFC come to town. New signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be available for his debut too.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Simon Fearn, John May and Hazel May.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

MLS, welcome to Zlatan: Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy on two-year deal but will not be a DP

It’s official. It’s a deal that has been rumoured for a number of years and it’s now come to fruition as Zlatan Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy for what will surely be the final years of his incredible career.

The 36-year-old Swedish striker terminated his contract with Manchester United on Thursday. That meant he could join LA Galaxy on a free transfer. But in addition to that coup, the Galaxy have been able to convince him to come to MLS without being a Designated Player.

Ibrahimovic’s contract will run through the 2019 season and he will earn $1.5 million per year, according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl. That amount is the maximum allowed for a contract using Targeted Allocation Money. So it means Giovani Dos Santos, Jonathan Dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini will remain DP’s with the Galaxy.

“Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome”

Ibrahimovic is one of football’s biggest characters. He is a global superstar as a result of both his incredible goalscoring exploits and his enormous ego that has made headlines wherever he has played.

He hasn’t even landed in Los Angeles but has already started his famous antics. An entire page of the LA Times was dedicated to Ibrahimovic’s signing on Friday, with a very short message from the man himself. It simply read: “Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome.”

Ibrahimovic is expected to arrive in LA next week, on either Wednesday and Thursday. He has only played seven times since making an incredibly fast recovery from cruciate knee-ligament damage. He suffered the injury in the Europa League last April.

However, if he feels ready to play from the outset, he could make his debut in the hugely anticipated Los Angeles Derby between LA Galaxy and LAFC on Saturday, March 31 – the first ever meeting between the new rivals.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy following a trophy-filled career. The powerful forward scored 421 goals in 21 seasons across Europe. With those goals coming for the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG and Manchester United.

He is the only player to have won 13 titles in four different leagues. He is Sweden’s all-time top goalscorer. And he is the only player to have scored in the following derbies: De Klassieker, the Derby della Madonnina, the Derby d’Italia, El Clásico, Le Classique, the Manchester Derby and the North-West Derby. Don’t bet against him making an immediate impact with a goal in the first LA Derby next weekend.

MLS, welcome to Zlatan.

In pictures: NYCFC 2-1 LA Galaxy – Cole sent off as Villa scores decisive goal in 100th appearance

NYCFC 2-1 LA Galaxy – All eyes were on Yankee Stadium on Sunday evening as New York City FC welcomed LA Galaxy for their home opener. Both sides came into the contest following Week 1 victories but it was NYCFC who made it two wins from two, beating LA 2-1 in David Villa’s 100th match for the club.

New York City started brightly and were rewarded when winter signing Anton Tinnerhom rifled a shot in off the crossbar following good work from Jesus Medina and Villa. The Spaniard’s cross was blocked by Michael Ciani but only into the path of Tinnerholm, who volleyed in off the bar after 22 minutes.

NYCFC then doubled their lead in the 33rd minute, as Villa celebrated his 100th NYCFC appearance with a goal. The hosts raced away on a counter-attack led by Jesus Medina. He played in Ben Sweat, who saw his effort saved by David Bingham straight into the path of Villa who simply tapped home.

LA Galaxy improved after halftime and got a goal back on the hour-mark through Jonathan Dos Santos. But they couldn’t get the equaliser despite pressing for most of the second-half.

Their chances took a major blow in the late stages as captain Ashley Cole was sent off for a second yellow card offence for seemingly tripping David Villa. The game ended NYCFC 2-1 LA Galaxy as New York City FC keep their perfect start to the season on track.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Ashley Marshall.

NYCFC 2-1 LA Galaxy: In Pictures

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New York City FC vs LA Galaxy | 2018 MLS Match Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: New York City FC vs LA Galaxy

Yankee Stadium – Sunday, March 11 2018 – 17:00 ET (21:00 GMT)

Live on Sky Sports Football (UK)

New York City FC vs LA Galaxy: Preview

New York City FC welcome LA Galaxy to Yankee Stadium for their home opener on Sunday evening in what is probably the standout MLS fixture of Week 2. Both sides picked up wins on opening weekend and will be looking to make it two from two here.

NYCFC impressed a lot of people with the way they went about beating Sporting Kansas City last weekend. It’s not an easy place to visit by Patrick Vieira’s men countered really well and came away with all three points and a clean sheet. Jesus Medina impressed on his debut and got himself a goal too. The only negative was the late red card shown to Maxime Chanot, meaning the defender won’t be available here.

NYCFC will be expecting to make it two wins from two. The home fans will be excited for their home opener and know the squad has the quality to be one of, if not the best teams in MLS this season. Beating the Galaxy on Sunday would further emphasise that.

LA Galaxy got their season off to the right start too, as they beat Western Conference rivals Portland 2-1 at StubHub Center. That win was much needed for Sigi Schmid and his team after their disastrous 2017 campaign. Ola Kamara scored on his debut and got off to the perfect start.

The Galaxy still need time to get back to their absolute best but the early signs were promising. Defensively they looked better but NYCFC have a lot of quality for the LA defenders to deal with. The major blow for the Galaxy is the loss of Romain Alessandrini. The Frenchman picked up a hamstring injury last week and is ruled out as a result.

Sunday’s clash will be just the fourth meeting between the two sides. The only previous game at Yankee Stadium saw NYCFC run out 1-0 winners thanks to an early David Villa goal. The Spaniard also scored in last year’s clash, netting a fine left-footed strike to seal a 2-0 win at StubHub Center. This weekend’s game will be Villa’s 100th for the club. He’s scored an incredible 65 goals and added 22 assists in his 99 appearances so far.

New York City FC vs LA Galaxy: Team News

New York City FC

❌ Suspensions: Maxime Chanot (red card)

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Jo Inge Berget (thigh)

LA Galaxy

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts:Chris Pontius (knock)

🚑 Out: Romain Alessandrini (hamstring)

New York City FC vs LA Galaxy: Key Stats

NYCFC’s MLS form: W

LA Galaxy’s MLS form: W

Key stat: New York City FC only lost two home games during the regular season last year, although one of those losses came in their final regular season game at Yankee Stadium as Portland left with a 1-0 win.

New York City FC vs LA Galaxy: Prediction

New York City FC 3-1 LA Galaxy: Both sides like to play free-flowing, attractive football and that should lead to a great spectacle. NYCFC may struggle with the absence of Chanot in defence, although LA Galaxy’s chances of capitalising on his loss have been negated by the injury to Alessandrini. Goals are expected but NYCFC look poised to make it six points as they take to the field at home for the first time this season.

LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers | 2018 MLS Match Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers

StubHub Center – Sunday, March 4th 2018 – 22:00 ET (03:00 GMT)

LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers: Preview

Major League Soccer is back and what a way for LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers to start their campaigns. Sunday’s clash pits top versus bottom from last years Western Conference final standings. LA will want to turn their fortunes around after a terrible season and Sigi Schmid has been busy reshaping the squad after his appointment last July so they will expect to be challenging for silverware again as soon as possible.

LA Galaxy have recycled their attacking options for want of a better phrase. The headline trade saw Ola Kamara make his way south to LA and homegrown talent Gyasi Zardes going the opposite way to Columbus. Chris Pontius has also joined, coming in from Philadelphia Union to support Kamara.

A playoff spot is the bare minimum expected this year for LA, as they look to return to winning ways. As the most successful franchise in league history, it is only a matter of time before they are back chasing the big prize, but questions remain over the depth of their squad in the build up to kickoff.

Portland have added young quality to a side that was in need of reinjection after a disappointing playoff campaign. Andy Polo is a versatile winger who will add pace to the Portland attack and Christhian Parades is a Paraguayan striker who will look to add support to the prolific Fanendo Adi.

The biggest talking point of the offseason for both Portland and MLS as a whole was the Darlington Nagbe move to Atlanta United. USMNT international, Nagbe was the marquee man and fan favorite in Portland and losing him is bound to have a effect on the Timbers.

Portland will want to maintain last years position but ultimately they will be hoping to replicate their MLS Cup winning campaign from 2015. There may be some teething problems however, with new manager Giovanni Savarese taking over from Caleb Porter following his surprise departure.

LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers: Team News

LA Galaxy

❌ Suspensions: None

❓ Doubts: None

🚑 Out: None

(Take a look at all LA Galaxy’s key transfer business this winter by clicking the image above)

Portland Timbers

❌ Suspensions: None

❓ Doubts: None

🚑 Out: None

(Take a look at all Portland Timbers’ key transfer business this winter by clicking the image above)

LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers: Key Stats

LA Galaxy’s MLS form: N/A

Portland Timber’s MLS form: N/A

Key stat: LA Galaxy have won only two of their last 19 MLS regular season matches. One of those did come in their final home game of 2017 however.

LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers: Prediction

LA Galaxy 1-2 Portland Timbers: LA Galaxy have had a complete restructure following the dismal campaign of last season and Portland should bring confidence going into the new season following last year’s success. It would be unjust to suggest a goalless affair seeing as both teams have made attacking additions who will be out to impress. Portland just edge it for us in wha should be an entertaining clash.

2018 Key Transfers: LA Galaxy

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the main ins and outs for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at LA Galaxy  and their key signings ahead of their MLS campaign in 2018…

LA Galaxy endured a season to forget in 2017. They finished bottom of the Western Conference and had very little to shout about. They won the least amount of games across MLS and they need to improve both offensively and defensively so they can push themselves back to familiar territory in the coming season. The Galaxy faithful have seen plenty of business during the window with some key faces coming in and departing.

Key Signings

Perry Kitchen: Solidity in defensive positions has been a must for Galaxy in the offseason and this is a signal of their intent. Perry Kitchen spent five good seasons with DC and had been a key member of the squad, starting 155 of his 158 games. He has returned to MLS following a spell in Europe. His experience and versatility is what Galaxy need and they will be hoping he can make an impact for them from the off.

David Bingham: Bingham is expected to be the new number one. LA Galaxy have decided to opt for the former Quakes ‘keeper as their new last line of defence. With three goalkeepers departing, including Brian Rowe, Bingham will be making his 100th MLS appearance in gameweek four providing he is the first choice. With that in mind he has plenty of experience and at 28 he has plenty of years ahead of him, so this looks a good signing.

Chris Pontius: Signed as a free agent after being released from Philadelphia, Chris Pontius looks to be a very good pickup for the Galaxy. An MLS veteran, Pontius is heading into his tenth campaign, having scored 45 goals in 215 games. He can be deployed in an attacking midfield role or as a forward, so he gives LA Galaxy options.

Ola Kamara: Galaxy needed to improve from front to back and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Off the back of two very impressive seasons, Ola Kamara has been picked up after scoring 34 goals in 59 games for Columbus Crew. There is going to be a lot of expectation on his shoulders with stats like that. Galaxy are also being linked with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Hernandez, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more attacking signings come in to support Kamara before the start of the season.

Notable Departures

Robbie Rogers: The 30-year-old defender has called time on his playing days, Robbie Rogers made 184 appearances over a 10 year MLS career. His ability to be utilised on both the right and left of the field means he is going to be an option the Galaxy will miss.

Jermaine Jones: LA Galaxy have decided to allow the experienced 36-year-old midfielder to move on. 2017 was the most appearances he’s made in one season since his move over to MLS from European football. Now may be a good time for both the player and club to seek new adventures with Galaxy needing to freshen up a side that underdelivered in 2017.

Gyasi Zardes: The last two seasons haven’t been too enjoyable for Gyasi Zardes, through injury in 2016 and Galaxy’s worst ever campaign last time out. Making 131 appearances and scoring 34 goals over five years at the club, he’s one the Galaxy fans will miss. A fresh start for him at Columbus is now in store, which he will be looking forward to.

Brian Rowe: The Galaxy have parted ways with Brian Rowe after six years. He made 45 appearances over the course of the last two seasons, although he isn’t being tipped as a number one choice for his new club Vancouver.

Jose Villarreal: LA Galaxy have decided to allow their second-ever homegrown signing to move on. At just 24, Jose Villarreal has 68 MLS appearances to his name, all with LA. There is more expected from him with plenty of time to continue to improve. A squad player who has the ability to make an impact and someone that will certainly need replacing if Galaxy want to keep good depth to their numbers.

Zlatan to MLS: Mourinho gives green light for Ibrahimovic to join LA Galaxy ahead of 2018 season

Zlatan Ibrahimovic appears as close as ever to completing a move to Major League Soccer. The LA Galaxy are reportedly in advanced talks to complete a deal to bring Zlatan to MLS, with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho suggesting he would be happy to allow him to leave imminently.

The news was revealed by ESPN’s Taylor Twellman late on Sunday night, suggesting that both the Galaxy and the player’s representatives have been negotiating a deal to bring Zlatan to MLS.

This isn’t the first time Ibrahimovic has been linked with a move to MLS. But given the circumstances, it feels as if it really is now or never. The iconic forward is 36 and is still recovering from a serious ACL tear suffered last April and is no longer at the top of the pecking order at Man Utd. The recent arrival of Alexis Sanchez has done little to help his chances.

That’s where the LA Galaxy can come in and offer the attractive option of regular first-team football alongside a quality standard of living. Ibrahimovic has made no secret of his desire to one day play in MLS and he now looks as close as ever to making that a reality.

Embed from Getty Images

Mourinho gives green light

One potential stumbling block for the Galaxy would be the fact he is contracted to Manchester United until the end of June. However, Jose Mourinho has confirmed he would be happy to allow the striker to leave before the summer.

“He told me nothing about it,” Mourinho said on Monday. “The first time I read or heard something about that was from the media. He never mentioned that to me so I don’t know.

“Zlatan is in the last year of his contract. If it’s true and Zlatan wants a future in another club in another country we are here to help and to create conditions for that to happen, not to make his life difficult.”

The 2018 MLS season begins on March 3, with LA Galaxy’s opening match taking place away at the Portland Timbers on Sunday, March 4.

Ibrahimovic has only made seven appearances this season since recovering from that knee injury. He would therefore benefit from joining up with LA Galaxy for preseason preparations to ensure he is sharp and ready for the 2018 campaign, if a deal can be struck in the next couple of weeks.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy

Major League Soccer: Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy

Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Wednesday, September 20 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Atlanta 4/9 – Draw 15/4 – LA Galaxy 5/1

Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy: Preview

Atlanta United take on LA Galaxy for the first time ever on Wednesday night, in a game that could essentially end the Galaxy’s 2017 season.

The Five Stripes are in good form and have enjoyed a stellar debut season in Major League Soccer. They can move a step closer to confirming their playoff spot with a win here, while probably ending the Galaxy’s hopes in the process.

Atlanta have gone unbeaten through four games, scoring 15 goals in the process. Their move to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium has proved seamless too. They’ve not lost at their new home and Wednesday’s match will be the fourth of six consecutive home games.

Embed from Getty Images

Victory on Wednesday would see Atlanta move ahead of Columbus Crew and into fourth place in the East. That would leave them on course to secure homefield advantage in the playoffs – something Tata Martino will be hoping to confirm.

The LA Galaxy team held a behind-closed-doors meeting after Saturday’s heavy defeat. That only happens when a team is in crisis. And make no mistake about it, the Galaxy are in a crisis. Jobs are on the line and players will be axed at the end of the campaign if they don’t improve.

Sigi Schmid’s job was to turn their fortunes around and get them into a playoff position come the end of the regular season. But he has not been able to do that, even with the expensive DP addition of Jonathan Dos Santos.

LA have gone 1-5-2 since Schmid took over the reigns. They are nine points outside the playoff spots in the West and don’t look like a team on the up.

Defeat to Atlanta on Wednesday night would essentially end the Galaxy’s season. It would leave them with a nine-point gap to make up over their final five games. But they still have to travel to Sporting KC, Houston and FC Dallas on the final day.

Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy: Team News

Atlanta United will welcome back centre-back Leandro Gonzalez Pirez after he served his one-game suspension. Zach Loyd is out for the season. Greg Garza is listed as questionable after missing Saturday’s match with a hamstring problem.

LA Galaxy will once again be able to call on Jermaine Jones after he served his suspension. He will expect to come into a side that could be drastically changed after Saturday’s crushing loss to Toronto. Robbie Rogers, Sebastian Lletget, Baggio Husidic and Pele Van Aanholt are all out for the season. Bradley Diallo left Sunday’s game in the first half with a hamstring injury and won’t feature here. Daniel Steres is also expected to miss out.

Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy: Key Points

Atlanta United’s last five: L/D/W/W/D

LA Galaxy’s last five: L/L/W/D/L

Key Stat: Atlanta have scored 13 goals in three games since moving to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That’s the same amount as LA Galaxy have scored in their last 12 MLS outings in total.

Key Player: Josef Martinez – The Venezuelan striker is hot right now. He has scored back-to-back hat-tricks for Atlanta and has seven in his last three games. His treble against Orlando on Saturday took his season total to 16 in 14 matches. He’s only three goals off David Villa in the race for the Golden Boot and will hope to close that gap further with another strong display here.

Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy: Prediction

Atlanta United 3-1 LA Galaxy – The Galaxy need to respond from Saturday’s humiliating 4-0 home loss. However, they couldn’t have really picked a worse place to have to go than Atlanta. The Five Stripes have been scoring for fun and should pick apart a Galaxy defence that can’t stop conceding. You would assume LA will show some spirit as they aim to impress Sigi Schmid enough to keep their jobs into next season. But this one looks like it should end in a home win, with Atlanta set to move up to fourth in the East.

Gallery: Seattle Sounders 1-1 LA Galaxy – Lamar Neagle earns Sounders a late point in thriller

Seattle Sounders 1-1 LA Galaxy – Games between these two Western Conference giants have produced some special moments over the years. Sunday night’s clash was no different. It’s not an official MLS rivalry. But it’s become as heated as some of the league’s established derby games.

The Galaxy arrived at CenturyLink Field desperate for a result after what has been a really tough year for the club. But they showed a real sense of togetherness and fought well against a Sounders side that led the West heading into the weekend.

LA were rewarded for their play when Gyasi Zardes headed them in front inside the first 25 minutes. He connected with Romain Alessandrini’s cross and the Galaxy looked good for their lead. They created several more chances but ultimately couldn’t add to their tally.

As is so often the case with the Sounders, they made their opponents pay for failing to put the game to bed. Substitute Lamar Neagle latched onto the end of Roman Torres’ cross to fire a deflected shot past Brian Rowe and into the back of the net in the 85th minute. It was Neagle’s first goal for the club since returning from DC United last month .

There was still time for more drama though. Roman Torres saw red after being adjudged to have fouled Jermaine Jones on the edge of the Sounders penalty area. LA failed to convert the free-kick and the game ended 1-1. The result leaves Seattle behind Portland at the top of the West. LA Galaxy are ten points outside the playoffs down in ninth.

Seattle Sounders 1-1 LA Galaxy – Exclusive photos courtesy of MLSGB photographers Paul Kahl and Denise McCooey:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.