Excitement was in the air as LA Galaxy fans got to take in the first official preseason match of 2019. The Galaxy faced off against Toronto FC who has been training in Orange County over the past few weeks. The preseason match drew a decent crowd for a chilly night at Dignity Health Sport Park, henceforth referred to as “The Diggity”, all 3 supporters groups were out in force and created a good atmosphere for the match. With the MLS season less than a month away, the new Galaxy coaching regime took the opportunity to test some of their new players.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto was without some key players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic (rested), Ola Kamara (illness), Sebastian Lletget (injury).
The Galaxy started the night in a 4-4-1-1 or a 4–2-3-1 formation with Chris Pontius and draftee Emil Cuello up top. Uriel Antuna on the left wing, Jona Dos Santos and Servando Carrasco in the middle and Romain Alessandrini on the right. Jorgen Skjelvik looked more comfortable playing as a left back, while Diego Polenta and Dan Steres patrolled the center of defense and the goal scorer Rolf Fletcher in his usual right back spot.
The Galaxy controlled much of the match with Man City loanee Uriel Antuna providing the outlet on the left side. Alessandrini seemed to be siding into the middle of the field to provide extra support for Jonathan Dos Santos and Carrasco. Jona playing the box to box role and Alessandrini and sometimes Cuello as the playmakers.
Diego Polenta was a player that we had our eye on since the Galaxy’s main issue last year was in the defense. He showed calmness on the ball and had the ability to find good outlet passes. Polenta is returning from a bit if a sabbatical and showed some rust. He got himself into trouble a few times, perhaps not realizing how quickly the challenges were coming. We are certainly hoping he will make the proper adjustments as he gets more games under his belt. Polenta played about 60 minutes before being subbed off.
The Galaxy created chances but it was persistence and a little luck that saw the ball go in the back of the net in the 55th minute. Romain Alessandrini took a short corner to Antuna who returned the ball, Alessandrini hit a one time left footed cross to the near post. Feltcher got in front of his defender and attempted to flick it on with the back of his head, but the ball deflected into the back of the net by Toronto’s Terique Mohammed.
The game saw wholesale changes after about the 65th min. Galaxy newcomers Julian Araujo, Diedie Traore, Don Tchialo all saw some time on the field. Juninho made his return to the Galaxy in the 75th minute to a big ovation but perhaps the biggest cheer came when Efrain Alvarez entered the game in the 65th min. It's clear that most Galaxy fans know that he could be the team’s next big homegrown star. Unfortunately, he was not able to make an impact on the game. The youngster missed a clear opportunity to make the game 2-0 late in the match. The resulting counter attack allowed Toronto to equalize from an own goal on the other side. Richie Laryea sent in a low cross into the area and the ball deflected off Dave Romney and into the back of the Galaxy net.
Players who did not play that many minutes stayed behind to get a training session in after the match. It should be noted that a post match training session is very rare. The Guillermo Barros Schelotto era has begun indeed.