Category Archives: LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy

The beat goes on as Los Angeles Galaxy lose again

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, May 12: 3-2 Loss

Starting XI: David Bingham; Daniel Steres, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos; Chris Pontius, Romain Alessandrini, Ola Kamara; Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: @LAGalaxy

Bench: Justin Vom Steeg, Emrah Klimenta, Dave Romney, Servando Carrasco, Baggio Husidic, Sebastian Lletget, Emmanuel Boateng.

It’s like having the same bad dream over and over:  The LA Galaxy concede early, chase the game, and fight to come back from behind two goals. It’s going to be reoccurring until they work out the problems, but they have to start tackling the issue of our defense first.

At this point, fans are calling for coach Sigi Schmid to be fired and for the front office to go as well, but the latter won’t happen as most have a five-year contract extension. The MLS salaries were also released revealing the Galaxy as having the highest paid defense with not much to show for it.

Saturday, Los Angeles Galaxy took on FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium and it turned out to be a wild one. The humidity and almost 90 degree weather added to the challenging elements of this particular match. Frequent water breaks were taken and FC Dallas knew how to run and tire LAG out in such conditions, messing with their momentum.

It started with Maximiliano Urruti who scored in the 28th minute. Then, in the 44th minute, FCD’s Roland Lamah scored. At that point, a change needed to be made and Sebastian Lletget came in for Perry Kitchen. Ashley Cole got a yellow card, which suspends him for the next match.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Celebration after Ola Kamara’s goal. Image: @LAGalaxy

Then, a breath of life for the Galaxy came from Ola Kamara with a header off a corner kick in the 47th minute, cutting the Texas team’s lead in half.  Lamah scored again, though, in the 52nd minute. The Galaxy made another change when Jonathan dos Santos got hurt and Servando Carrasco subbed in at the 56th minute. The Mexican national was not seriously injured.

Reto Ziegler earned two yellow cards, which gave the Galaxy an advantage as they were up a man. Still, despite a fighting effort, the LA Galaxy came up short.

Emmanuel Boateng came in for Chris Pontius in the 76th minute and he scored a goal in the 83rd minute of play. It seemed the Galaxy could catch up.

I clung to hope as the minutes ticked away. In the 88th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic took a free kick that hit the top post with such fervor that the entire net shook!

Watch below:

That was not the last thrill as the Galaxy created chances and took shots til the whistle blew.

It is disheartening to write that a team with a stellar squad, most notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara, is in 9th place in the Western Conference at the close of Week 11.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in action. Image: @LAGalaxy

But, The Whispers sang a similar tune: the beat goes on, I might as well get over the blues. Let’s move on strong. LAG’s next match is once again on the road as they are set to face Montreal Impact on Monday, May 21st.

Featured image: @LAGalaxy 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

 

Don’t hit the panic switch on the LA Galaxy just yet

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, May 5: 3-2 Loss

I watched highlights and listened via the radio stream for this match as the LA Galaxy traveled to BBVA Compass Stadium for the match Saturday, May 5, 2018, where the crowd was sold out.

Image @LAGalaxy

Starting XI: David Bingham; Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Sebastian Lletget, Perry Kitchen; Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, Ola Kamara; Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Bench: Justin Vom Steeg, Emrah Klimenta, Daniel Steres, Servando Carrasco, Jonathan dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius

My heart broke as The LA Galaxy lost at the last minute to the Houston Dynamo, a game that should’ve been in the bag for LA. But, it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning as Vin Diesel once said in The Fast and the Furious.

It is frustrating to watch a talented team struggle, fight back and then lose. But, the Galaxy aren’t just fighting, they’re chasing the ball and clawing their way from two-goal deficits. I commend them for being able to come back. But, conceding goals early and fighting tooth and nail are not the way anyone wants this to go. The problem lies in our defense as well. At this point, all eyes are on coach Sigi Schmid.

LAG was able to have the same starting XI for two games now. I think consistency is key, but there are many keys to unlocking their success. Giovani Dos Santos scored his second goal on a good run that he was able to keep to the far post. Ola Kamara scored also on an assist from Gio Dos Santos who had gotten the ball off a spinning pass that resembled more of a martial arts move from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. This trio combined to make that first and second goal happen. It seemed the team was finally given a break.

img_2478
Giovani Dos Santos and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Image: @LAGalaxy

I have to hand it to the Los Angeles Galaxy for showing heart. In the first half, possession was in their favor just barely, but the other side says LA was dominated. David Romney and even Kamara play out of their comfortable positions to do what is asked of them. Let’s give them kudos to come back after being down two goals for the third time this season. David Bingham keeps making numerous saves.

They are two points up from this time last year, the infamous season that everyone keeps referring to; I have to admit, things are not looking good right now. But, I am an optimist. This doesn’t mean I am not realistic. I want my team to win. I want them to be more in control of the game. I want this team to rebuild the fortress that was StubHub Center.

The same problems keep surfacing for the LA Galaxy, which tells me this is fixable. We cannot expect Kamara and Ibrahimovic to carry or lift the team. I hope this wakes up the team because the first two Houston goals were soft ones. We are about to face FC Dallas and Montreal Impact, both teams that are formidable opponents as we are the away team.

Featured image of Ola Kamara courtesy: @LAGalaxy 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

The LA Galaxy keep putting one foot in front of the other

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, April 28: 2-3 Loss

I wanted this title to reflect the ’90s, but this song by Walk the Moon makes more sense. The Los Angeles Galaxy did celebrate their last 22 years with Throwback night on Saturday, April 28, 2018. They played ‘90s music, had a discounted scarf that was the classic gold and green, and gave out a clear fanny pack.

Our starting lineup: David Bingham; Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole; Sebastian Lletget, Perry Kitchen; Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, Ola Kamara; Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Substitutions:

Justin Vom Steeg, Emrah Klimenta, Daniel Steres, Servando Carrasco, Baggio Husidic, Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius.

We conceded two goals in the first half. I was sitting near the New York Red Bulls’ supporters to give myself a different experience at this match. I was by myself for the first time, but I didn’t mind since I always end up chatting with people around me. It was a near capacity crowd.

I knew I would move for the second half. I wanted a specific Galaxy jacket but found out it had been discontinued. So, I was cold and during halftime went and got myself some new gear, including that throwback scarf to show how long I’d been a fan. I have a Landon Donovan shirt that’s also the classic style, but it’s gotten small since 2005.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Rick Koser and I. Image: Michelle Huitink

After shopping, I had time in the half to meet up with fellow fan, Rick Koser, who invited me to come sit with him in section 116. We chatted about soccer, of course, and got to know each other a bit; we are both SoCal natives.

I said how LAG had a good start. David Bingham had really been making fantastic saves, and the Galaxy needs to be more patient. As for the calls not being in our favor, we both expressed displeasure with VAR and the refs’ decisions. Rick, who became a season ticket member three years ago said, “the Galaxy can’t catch a break.” I agree wholeheartedly.

We noticed the confetti that seemed to keep floating in the stadium. Fellow MLSFemale writer, Jess Houwen, texted me asking if it was confetti she was seeing on her screen. According to this tweet, this is why…

We continued to watch our beloved team fight for us.

Romain Alessandrini kept the ball in play and even slid to keep it in the 63rd minute. He took on the defenders and after the 73rd minute, he faced a RBNY player one on one “dancing” with him to keep possession of the ball. He really stood out most to me in both halves.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Romain Alessandrini. Image: Michelle Huitink

We came back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game. Ola Kamara scored in the 59th minute on an assist from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He hadn’t scored since the home opener. Then, Giovani Dos Santos scored in the 66th minute. He hadn’t scored since May 27, 2017.

Then, as fate would have it, a penalty was called and RBNY’s Alejandro Romero scored in the 84th minute.

Even with five minutes extra time, the Galaxy came up short and lost at home again.

The New York Red Bulls played a good game. Florian Valot scored a great goal in the 49th minute. This was a team that played in the CONCACAF Champions League. They’re tough and were also coming off a previous home loss, so I can’t emphasize enough how proud I am of my LA Galaxy to take them on and score two goals.

At times it felt there was a magnetic field around the net for the Galaxy when they tried to score. The calls against us really seemed to take the wind out of the LA Galaxy’s sails. Alessandrini was understandably frustrated since his goal in the first half had been rescinded post celebration per VAR.

I could blame the refs more, but there’s no point here. I’ve watched the United States Men’s National Team fight in the World Cup against bad, and what we see as unfair, calls; it’s how the game goes sometimes. We got to push on despite that. They really did fight til the whistle blew.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic played 90 minutes again.

Sebastian Lletget played a full 90 minutes since his injury.

I want to focus on our progress. I mean, Gio Dos Santos scored, y’all! Ola Kamara scored. Everyone on that pitch: the starting lineup and subs Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius, and Daniel Steres put in their best effort.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Cozmo, our mascot, in his throwback outfit. Image: Michelle Huitink

It’s going to be tough ahead as we have a three-game road stretch. I have all the faith in my team and wish them well as injuries continue to plague the soccer world.

Featured image courtesy: Michelle Huitink 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

Keep on keeping on, LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, April 21: 0-2 Loss

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Romain Alessandrini, Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos (Baggio Husidic), Sebastian Lletget; Ola Kamara, Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
LA Galaxy Instagram

Substitutions

Justin Vom Steeg, Dave Romney, Servando Carrasco, Michael Ciani, Giovani dos Santos, Baggio Husidic, Chris Pontius.

“You lost? Even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic?” A student asked me about Saturday’s match.

Yes, we did. And I had to watch from my friend’s place while I was visiting Washington state. I tried to DVR it but didn’t have the option, so I made a point to watch live and take notes. I’m that dedicated.

Our strategy can’t be to keep passing the ball to Ibrahimovic; it will get predictable. And we have other players who can score.

I hate when we lose at home. But, it could have been worse. Most of the scores I see involving Atlanta United are where they scored like 5 goals lol. So, that this wasn’t worse is a good thing. We dodged a bullet shot early on from Ezequiel Barco.

I attribute this to David Bingham, our goalkeeper, making saves.

I understand LA Galaxy fans are frustrated, so is Ola Kamara because he hasn’t scored since the home opener. But, I believe it’s only a matter of time. We just have to keep at it.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: my TV

I was salty about that first goal by Josef Martinez because it was done on poor clearance. Then, I was glad when they missed the penalty that I didn’t think should’ve been called in the first place. “The ball does not lie.” Was my reaction. But then, their second goal was a penalty scored by Miguel Almiron.

The truth is, Atlanta deserved to win that game. We should have scored, but we didn’t. The fact it was just 2-0 just means our defense actually was pretty good.

The Galaxy did well at adapting play against a team like Atlanta United where you need to build up plays and passing quickly and we did that in the first eleven minutes. Perry Kitchen did his job pushing and pulling in the defense.

Ibrahimovic played a full 90 minutes, for the first time in over a year, which is good news.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: LA Galaxy Instagram

Before playing, the Galaxy honored Tommy Mark, a youth player who recently passed away, with applause and the team wore black armbands.

The next match will be April 28, 2018, at 7:30PM PST. I’ll be in the stands.

Featured image courtesy: LA Galaxy Instagram 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

LA Galaxy: should’ve scored more, but didn’t

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, April 14: 0-1 Win

Starting XI
David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Romain Alessandrini, Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget; Ola Kamara, Zlatan Ibrahimović

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: LA Galaxy Instagram

Substitutions
Justin Vom Steeg, Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Servando Carrasco, Baggio Husidic, Emmanuel Boateng, Chris Pontius

“We come with the sun, they come with the wind, but the sun was the stronger one today.”  -Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Oh, the wind and the rain. SoCal has been quite warm lately, 85F just a few days last week. So, traveling to Chicago where it’s 35F, raining, windy, and cold; we are too LA for that. Sure, the weather played a big factor, but I will not use it as an excuse.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the lone goal, the lion leading the pride. Sure, he’s doing his thing, but this is cause for concern among fans. The second half was sloppy for us and it wasn’t because of Mother Nature. We did the best we could under those conditions and the first half really showed that.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Image: LA Galaxy Instagram

Sebastian Lletget and Zlatan Ibrahimovic started! This is fantastic since they’re both getting back to fitness coming off injuries from last year and also because they’ve been scoring this year. We also know that this means they’ll be subbed. We’ve got to take care of our key players. We want to be up in goals before they come off the pitch.

The most frustrating was two LA Galaxy goals being rescinded. In the 5th minute, Ola Kamara was called offside, which he was but barely. He’s a hungry panther and hasn’t scored since the home opener. Then, in the 8th minute, VAR took what would’ve been an own goal on Chicago’s part. Yes, we should’ve scored more, but we didn’t.

We want to score goals, but as we saw in the second half of this game, we have to get the game on lockdown before the team, in this case, the Chicago Fire, take advantage of set pieces and score. We got lucky this time. But, Chicago had too many chances. It was scary after the 51st minute when they got three corners almost in a row. Even if we are up just one goal, let’s focus on defense rather than attack and scoring (I’m having deja vu, I think I said this in preseason and the home opener).

Complaints will happen no matter how we are doing, but let’s keep our cool like the Galaxy should as we watch our team work out the kinks. They need to play through, regain control and possession, and keep up the effort so we can figure out how to make the pieces work. We are going to continue to see problems in our defense, our finishing (especially in front of the net, I mean even Ibrahimovic missed twice), chemistry, tactics, and strategies until we get it right, so yeah mistakes and sloppy play are going to feel like deja vu. I just hope the Galaxy don’t get predictable either way.

Satisfactory doesn’t seem good enough for the best team in the league; that said, this isn’t the same team as last season, which in this case is a good thing. So, we take this win and keep the momentum going, focusing on what we’ve done right like Ashley Cole getting passes to Ibrahimovic that result in goals.

David Bingham made some really good saves, most of which took place in the second half.

Chris Pontius, Emmanuel Boateng, and Baggio Husidic came in as subs and I think these were good moves.

So far, I think we are doing quite alright. It’s week 7 and we are second in the west.

The next match is Saturday, April 21st at 7:30PST at StubHub Center. I’ll be out of town, but I’ll be watching.

Featured image courtesy: Romain Alessandrini Instagram 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

LA Galaxy Snap Back to Reality

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Sunday, April 8: 0-2 Loss

LA Galaxy Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos; Chris Pontius, Romain Alessandrini, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara

No game is going to ever live up to the LA Galaxy vs Los Angeles FC again in the MLS. So, it’s no surprise to me that reality would hit us in the face on this night.

If you’re a fan of the Galaxy and you’re reading this, you’ve known our defense needed work since preseason.

Our starting XI and our bench, with a couple of exceptions, are totally good players.

I hope this 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City reminds us of the work that needs to be done.  Let’s not overreact due to the past trauma that was the 2017 season; instead, let’s work on our finishing (because we had three shots that hit off the post, so now we are fighting the net at this point), and that we can’t rely on any single player. We are a better than decent team. We just need to follow through.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
LA Galaxy with a chance off a corner in the first half. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

The first half, we played well, much better than versus LAFC. Let’s also not forget that Sporting was missing their main man, Felipe Gutiérrez.  Still, this game was consistent and steady. We attacked and we created chances, putting pressure and often forcing them to get the ball back to their keeper. In the second half, we got sixteen shots on goal, five of which came from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Sebastian Lletget and Ibrahimovic are still getting back into fitness. It is ultimately up to head coach Sigi Schmid who he starts, but I, as a fan, have to trust in his decisions right now.

Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan Dos Santos, both designated players, starting and playing a good amount of minutes, and coming out hungry and strong, especially after returning from hamstring injuries is awesome but we can’t expect them to push past their limits.

I want everyone fit! We have a long season ahead still.

Overall, I didn’t understand the decisions made by the Galaxy when passing; they always play it on the sides, especially on the right. Then, they bunched up too much, which forced Ibrahimovic to go back with the ball, which doesn’t result in any chances.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Zlatan Ibrahimovic taking a free kick in the 82’. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

I didn’t expect to lose. I’m still not convinced Sporting should be in the number one spot in the western conference.

We had better control of the game and it was a physical match.  SKC just took more advantage of their opportunities when we let two balls slip past us. That’s all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump voice).

Our next match is Saturday, April 14, an away game vs Chicago Fire. It is available to stream via Twitter and watch on Univision Deportes at 12:30PT/2pmCT.

Romain Alessandrini takes on Zusi Graham image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

MLSFemale logo trans 100x

Ibrahimovic’s debut: the lightning and the thunder of the LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Saturday, March 31: 4-3 Win

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Perry Kitchen, Servando Carrasco; Chris Pontius, Sebastian Lletget, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.

Substitutions

Justin Vom Steeg, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Emrah Klimenta, Dave Romney, Baggio Husidic, Ariel Lassiter, Zlatan Ibrahimović.

27,000 in attendance. A sold-out crowd. Los Angeles Galaxy vs Los Angeles Football Club: The first match ever of its kind, the LA Derby and El Tràfico, are some of the better names this was called. This game is going down in history and soccer people will be talking about it for the rest of our lives. Friends of mine who don’t even care about soccer or live in other countries heard all about it. We’ll get to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but just like we fans in the stands had to wait, so do you. Lol. It’s important to recognize how we struggled to appreciate our success.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Pre-game warm-ups. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

LAFC showed how fast they were in the first half. They also put a lot of pressure that the Galaxy doesn’t seem used to.  The pressure often forced the Galaxy to play on the right to Rolf Feltscher, who would try to get crosses or pass, but once the Galaxy would get a shot, LAFC would get the ball back and take it straight down the field as many described as one-way traffic.

All of this resulted in LAFC’s #10 Carlos Vela scoring twice in the 5th and 26th minutes.

The LA Galaxy seemed to second guess themselves. Ema Boateng would get good momentum and get the ball to Lletget, but a lot of our players were standing and waiting for the ball, and you don’t want to see the ball and Kamara not moving forward, especially down two goals.  The Galaxy also seemed to bunch up too much or too spread out on long passes.

Our defense was definitely lacking, we didn’t have designated players such as Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan Dos Santos due to injuries, and it looked like our guys were missing the chemistry to connect key players with the ball as a result.

Don’t get me wrong, The LA Galaxy are good. They had chances near the end of the first half, in the 45th minute when Chris Pontius knocked on LAFC’s door with the best shot so far, but just couldn’t make it himself nor could he service it to Kamara. Each of our players is capable and has credentials all their own. Ola Kamara is one of the best MLS goal scorers in the last two years. I watched us fight for the ball, Lletget taking on three defenders, getting the ball over to Feltscher. The trio of Boateng, Lletget, and Pontius working together to make plays and create chances. Servando Carrasco earned us a corner in the 48th minute.

LAFC was just the better team. Then, to kick us while we were down, fate would have it that Steres scored an own goal off a deflection.

So, what could coach Sigi Schmid do to improve and give us a chance to come back in the second half? The fans were calling for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But, when the second half started, there were no changes on either side. The game had changed, though, LAFC tried to slow down the pace, but as we saw in the first half, that isn’t how we play. We saw Zlatan warming up by the 52nd minute.

By the 53rd minute, Jorgen Skjelvik, Boateng, and Lletget had strong efforts and chances in the attacking third; Pontius maintaining our possession, which Perry Kitchen, Ashley Cole, and Carrasco got the ball for more chances there, which finally paid off.

LAFC’s defense opened up and in the 61st minute, Lletget scored! Baggio Husidic subbed Servando Carrasco, who assisted in said goal, right after that.

#michellelletget - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Sebastian Lletget taking a corner kick. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Within twenty minutes, pre-Ibrahimovic, we came back two goals, the second scored by Chris Pontius when he headed in a cross from Boateng and that wonderful goal breathed life back into the team. I emphasize this and my point that the LA Galaxy is a good team this season prior to what happened next. But, we’ll get to it.

The hope in StubHub Center was palpable. The fans were already loud, doing our best to drown out our noisy LAFC neighbors, but the energy was building. Those two goals were flashes of lightning in an important match. The LA Galaxy shirts and board read that we were unrivaled and we had to prove it.

Then, Zlatan Ibrahimovic entered the game in the 71st minute for Lletget. We had been calling for him. Still, despite what he can bring individually, the players on the field had to get the ball to him.

As soon as Ibrahimovic came on, the other nine Galaxy players on the field stepped it up. He provided enough distraction to LAFC and Chris Pontius scored two minutes later. It was just his presence that lifted the game. But, there we were only one goal back with plenty of time.

Then, in the 76th minute, our new number 9 leveled the match.

It was epic. I mean, it is the Ibrahimovic way, but to see a goal shot by him on his debut from 40 yards out after he’d spent so much time recovering and just the day before, his fitness and age being called into question.

Ibrahimovic earned a yellow card for taking off his shirt in celebration. Fans in the stands where I was did the same. The crowd really was thunderous now.

It was almost extra time and we would’ve been happy to tie. But, in the 91st minute, a ball from Cole was headed into the net by none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The crowd went wild, which is an understatement. I’ve supported this team for over a decade and have seen my team come back, but nothing has ever felt quite like this.

We really wanted the whistle at that moment, even though no one had stopped cheering.

Finally, it was over. We had won 4–3. We had come back from a 3 goal deficit. We defeated our new rival.

The LA Galaxy definitely need more control of the game. I spent a good chunk of this article on the first half because it should not be forgotten in all the hype and excitement. Vin Diesel said in The Fast and The Furious that “it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.” But, I want the MLS to be recognized as a solid league on its own. Ibrahimovic coming here gives it an unfair comparison to European leagues. Lletget and Pontius both deserve credit for what they accomplished this match.

I do have concerns as a fan that the Galaxy will rely too much on Ibrahimovic or that his ego will end him up on the bench, but since seeing him at the press conference, and after keeping good on his promise to help us and win, I really think he is the puzzle piece that this team was missing.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
The man of the match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

Lastly, besides stressing the point of how skillful the Galaxy are, especially when we get our designated players back from injuries, I hear that Los Angeles has one team. Sure, I want my team to win, but I welcome the new rivalry. I really want the LA Galaxy and LAFC to coexist. One of the best things I saw as I walked back to the parking lot was an LA Galaxy fan walking, talking, shaking hands and being friendly with a LAFC fan then going their separate ways.

There’s another reason this game was special. On a personal note, I was the victim of a hit and run car accident over a year ago that totaled my car and I was lucky not to have been more injured. Many people stopped to help me, but there was a Good Samaritan, George, who stayed with me, kept me calm and helped me until my father and the police could arrive. We kept in touch and to show my gratitude, I invited him to what I knew would be a phenomenal match. This game exceeded both of our expectations. It was his first professional soccer game, but he is definitely a sports person and I enjoyed going over the game with him.

What a game it ended up being. I’m glad I was there. I can’t do this game enough justice, you really had to have been there. I still can’t believe it even after rewatching highlights and the match itself to write this article.

The next match is April 8th and I’m bringing three other friends. We’ll see what that game holds.

Images courtesy: Michelle Huitink/mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Zlatan Ibrahimovic officially joins the LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

When I got the call from my LA Galaxy rep, Zack Krukowski, inviting me to attend the press conference as media, I was excited.

#michellecar
Representing MLSFemale, sporting our limited edition pin

As seen below, I embraced my media position:

#michellestand

Upon arrival at StubHub Center and finding my way to the media area, I wasn’t surprised by the frenzy per se, but I had never been part of anything of this caliber. Sure, after the LA Galaxy won in 2012, I joined other fans to see David Beckham and the team showcase the trophies.

This past January, I was at the Galaxy jersey launch party and interviewed players. Then, the next day, I interviewed USMNT forward Jordan Morris, and those experiences stand on their own as valuable. But today, it was literally like the only thing that mattered was that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had arrived.

#michellesmile

I found my seat a few rows back. I went live on MLSFemale’s Instagram. Head coach Sigi Schmid, president Chris Klein, and AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman all thanked Ibrahimovic for choosing the LA Galaxy, especially because he could play anywhere in the world. As Beckerman said, “[this signing] is monumental and the latest example of AEG’s commitment to our club, to our sport, to our league, and to our city.”

As soon as the new forward took to the mic, you could hear the shutters from the cameras going off. Fans cheered, welcoming him, and laughed along with his one-liners.  

Of course, he is here to win.

“I am not arrogant. I am confident.” He said about people who do not understand him. When Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived the previous night at LAX, he was greeted by fans and graciously gave autographs and took photos.

After seeing his interaction with fans via Periscope and today hearing him at the conference, I have a better understanding of the man and his choice to play for the LA GALAXY, regardless of whether it was an inevitable move. I am not blinded by his shining light. Ibrahimovic is a star, no doubt. I don’t even need to go over his stats and accomplishments because it’s a long list and could go on forever, as he admitted.

I had solid confidence in the overhaul the Galaxy team made after the home opener and our match against the Vancouver Whitecaps despite the problems that have arisen as a result of so many changes. Now, with the addition of Ibrahimovic, I see him fitting in as the self-described “extra puzzle [piece]” to the bigger picture of bringing the Galaxy to success once again. 

He is here to help the club, the coach, and his teammates.  The talk is good, there’s every reason that he will live up to expectations and walk the walk come gameday.

He made jokes addressing concerns about his age: “I feel young, I feel like Benjamin Button…[it is] only numbers I know what I’m able to do, I know what I will do.” He is family oriented and said he already brought them here.  His wife could care for the family so he could get to playing soccer. He added, “to settle in very fast, get to know my teammates, my coach, [and] the people around the club.”

As for concerns about his fitness: “I’m just excited. Looking forward to [playing], just want to go out on the field. I know it has been a long break for me where I haven’t been in my rhythm where I play every day almost because of the injury I had.”

#michellebackj
Head coach Sigi Schmid, president Chris Klein, AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman and Ibrahimovic pose for the media. Image courtesy: Michelle Huitink

He was available for the match against Los Angeles FC, and he’s willing to play as needed or not and for as long as Sigi requires. He is trusting the coach with the decision-making.

After his first training session and practicing shooting per Sigi’s approval, he said: “the lion is hungry.”

He has worked very hard, to prepare, and knows he has to keep working hard. He doesn’t want to be on the field just because of his name.  He sees the MLS as a competitive league and a real opportunity when compared to European leagues. 

LA Galaxy is recognized as the most successful club in the MLS. He’s aware he’s joining after such a terrible 2017 season, but he said this season is something new.

As for the World Cup, that’s another question. “Let me enjoy [LA] first,” he responded with a winning smile. “What happens here, we can take it further, my focus is on the LA Galaxy.” And that’s what every fan wanted to hear. 

Featured image courtesy: Michelle Huitink/mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

LA Galaxy backup players show up

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

Saturday, March 24: 0-0 Draw

LA Galaxy Starting XI

David Bingham; Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Tomas Hilliard-Arce; Rolf Feltscher, Perry Kitchen, Sebastian Lletget, Servando Carrasco, David Romney; Emmanuel Boateng, Ariel Lassiter.

#michelle

Substitutions

Brian Sylvestre, Justin Vom Steeg, Hugo Arellano, Baggio Husidic, Joao Pedro, Chris Pontius.

Look at this starting lineup and the bench. Remember these names, because this is pre-Zlatan Ibrahimovic and we were missing so many key players, yet these guys stepped it up. Not only are we obviously better than last season, but a draw in Vancouver earns us a point. We were on the road and I tell you this is a good result in 39F weather that we are too LA for.  They really worked with the 3-5-2 formation.

I don’t care about big names. The performance speaks for itself and I hope coach Sigi Schmid is taking notes, taking names, and listening. The Vancouver Whitecaps could not cut through our back line and couldn’t score on counter attacks, which is what they’re known for.  Sure, they took bad shots and made poor decisions, but so did we.

David Bingham saved us in that first half. Our usual problems surfaced in the first 45 minutes and the match was dominated by Vancouver. Still, the defense held strong throughout the match.

Considering this was Tomas Hillard-Arce’s MLS debut, Sebastian Lletget’s first time captaining (and well deserved), and Ema Boateng needs to work on finishing, we held down the defense and created some of the best chances of the match. Ari Lassiter had a really good chance in the 52nd minute with a header off Servando Carrasco, he just couldn’t get there in time.  LA needs to put more pressure on the ball.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Lletget post-match interview image courtesy: @lagalaxy instagram story

Daniel Steres and Rolf Feltscher were very active. Jorgen Skjelvik and Dave Romney also did well to hold it down during Vancouver’s challenges. Perry Kitchen is looking better. The guys seemed steady. By the 59th minute, we got shaky and shadows of the first half could be seen as we tried to keep it together just a few minutes after Boateng failed to score when facing Vancouver’s goalkeeper, Stefan Marinovic, one on one.

Chris Pontius was subbed in for Lassiter, who hadn’t given much service, but his performance was decent. He’s got potential and just needs to find consistency.

Lletget got subbed out for Baggio Husidic, who took over the captain’s position in the 81st minute. It really is good to see Lletget playing for so long when at this time last year he suffered a foot injury.  He’s really come a long way in recovery and fitness.

Last change of the match was Joao Pedro subbed in for Carrasco, who really shined tonight and performed at a very high level.

I predicted against the LA Galaxy when I guest spotted as an “MLS expert” for LA is Our House podcast “Balls and Beers”. I’m glad this team proved me wrong. We have a lot to prove as we face Los Angeles FC this coming weekend on March 31st. But, I feel we are really prepared, Ibrahimovic debut or not. I’m concerned about Giovani Dos Santos coming back on the field, and I know the starting XI won’t look like today’s lineup. I’m putting my trust in Sigi. My confidence in my team is locked in.

As for Ibrahimovic joining us, I’ve gotten a grip. It can’t be denied what a magnificent and proud player he is and rightfully so, regardless of the minutes he hasn’t had; his resume speaks for itself. LA has always had big names and as long as he is fit, and helps the club and MLS grow, then I welcome him with open arms.

Image courtesy: @LAGalaxy_ES

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @AdorableEars

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

 

The struggle is real for LA Galaxy

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @AdorableEars

Sunday, March 11: 2-1 Loss

Starting XI

David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole ©; Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen; Sebastian Lletget, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Ola Kamara.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale

With a 4-2-3-1 formation, Ola Kamara was the lone striker, which should have meant getting more touches on the ball, but we just couldn’t quite get there despite our rigorous efforts.

The LA Galaxy played at Yankee Stadium, so I had to listen to my team struggle via the radio and watch per Twitter highlights.  The size of the field, 68 x 106 yards (70×100 meters), played a factor in our performance since it is the smallest in MLS and the smallest allowed by FIFA’s international guidelines. We aren’t used to playing on that, but it’s not an excuse.

With Alessandrini out for the match due to a hamstring injury, it was an opportunity for Sebastian Lletget to shine as the right winger. This was his first start and longest amount of time played (75 minutes) since his long recovery from a Lisfranc injury.  He brought speed and really fought hard to create scoring chances.

We were outplayed in the first half and the first goal came in the 22nd minute from Anton Tinnerholm on a well-timed run that Ciani just couldn’t push out.

This is only the second game in the season, but we can see the Galaxy need to work on keeping it together after substitutions and hang on in the later minutes of the second half until the end of the match. They also need to work on finishing goals because they had plenty of scoring opportunities. Lastly, we need to develop the chemistry between players (we are looking much better), but we need to play the way New York City FC’s Sweat and Medina set each other up.

It was 2-0 by the 33rd minute when David Villa scored on a rebound off Bingham’s save. Their other chances came when players like Yangel Herrera were given too much space, but Bingham really did well saving us most of the evening.

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Sebastian Lletget’s first start and the most minutes he’s played since his recovery

Unfortunately, the match turned sour for the Galaxy when Ciani had to exit with what we now know as a hip flexor injury, but Steres was subbed in.

Set pieces are always opportunities for the Galaxy to score, but we missed those. We also had poor play out of the backline.

Finally, the breakthrough we’d been hoping for came in the 60th minute when Jonathan Dos Santos was able to score. He moved up when Carrasco subbed his brother, Gio, due to an injury ten minutes prior.  Jona had been on the ball but played too deep in his position in the holding mid before the change.

After that goal, the Galaxy had better energy. Skjelvik defended us well. Still, we need to keep from coming undone late in the game.

The last blow to us came when Ashley Cole, our beloved captain, got a second yellow card that resulted in a red and we were down a man. Cole made a challenge that took down Villa with little contact, which should have been up for VAR, but another key player was out.

At the end of it all, we are a more than capable team. As to be expected after the alterations this team has undergone, there’s still work to be done. But, I see us coming together despite this 2-1 loss. Missing key players means the rest of the team has to step up and show up.

Images courtesy: lagalaxy.com

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @AdorableEars

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale