Jun 9, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) and Real Salt Lake forward Brooks Lennon (12) battle for the header during the first half at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Here are three things we learned about the LA Galaxy’s 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake:
Clean sheet game plan
Head coach Sigi Schmid mentioned in his postgame press conference that the team’s plan was to maintain a clean sheet in the first half, to keep from digging another hole for themselves. The team accomplished that goal and used the momentum to finish chances. This is the team’s fifth shutout in the 15 games played so far this season.
“In the first half, the one thing we’ve been talking about is that it’s tough to play when you go down one and two to nothing,” Schmid said. “And so, that’s our main objective coming out in the first half. I know maybe offensively it was a little bit disjointed, and as I said, we’re a little more direct. The important part of the first half was that we came out at zero, and I think when we come out at zero at halftime, good things happen for our team, so the second half; that confidence, and not having to play from behind makes a big difference.”
Formation changes made difference
Schmid has been making consistent lineup changes in hopes of finding a formation that makes the most sense with the roster he has. The biggest challenge comes with finding a place for both forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara to be successful. The formation for this match changed mid-game to allow both to play up top together, which ended in success for the team: Ibrahimovic scored two goals and Kamara scored one.
“Today, I think, when we changed to two strikers, it worked easier,” Ibrahimovic said. “I think we are more stable. Today, we were more direct. We were more in our game. We were doing things that we were better at and we do it much better like that. Let’s continue like this. We have been working the last two weeks on the things we are doing right now and you can see the result.”
“I think we played a little bit simpler football today.” Kamara said of his play alongside Ibrahimovic. “I always want to play together with him on top and I think that in a couple of games where both of us are playing strikers it’s looked a little bit like it has today. So I think it’s a good thing for this team.”
Season starts now
Several LA Galaxy players and staff said they feel this is the starting point for the second half of their season, and they need to build off Saturday’s result. The Galaxy have almost three full weeks until their next MLS match, June 30th in San Jose, so this break is a good way for the team to split the season into two parts.
“It’s always nice to win like this,” Schmid said. “This is sort of the end for the first half of the season in a way. I think we have 19 games left at this stage, so there are still 57 points out there to be had, and as we talked about wanting to start the road to the playoffs, we talked about that before the San Jose Earthquakes game, and we’ve wanted to build up ever since. If you look at our last four or five league games, you look at that record, that’s a record that’s good enough to get you into the playoffs. So if we can play every set of five games like that I’ll be happy, and that’s the objective for us now.”
“You can’t look back and change the past results,” captain Ashley Cole said. “Now we have to look forward. This is our last home game before the break. Now we enjoy some days off and get ready for Portland. I think it’s important that our season starts now. It started tonight and we got the three points.”