The Portland Timbers are off to sunny California to take on the LA Galaxy this weekend, sporting a beaten-up back line, but none-the-less hoping to start their 2017 away record off with a win.
To get the low-down on the Galaxy, we talked to Kyle Sennikoff of our sister-site LAG Confidential and he answered some of our questions about the Bruce Arena-less Galaxy.
What is going on with the Galaxy this week? The expected XI is riddled with injuries and suspensions, so who are LA fans expecting to step up and what could the team look like if they do?
In midfield, Baggio Husidic should replace Jermaine Jones. Husidic played a ton last where when we shipped out Nigel de Jong and when Steven Gerrard was hurt, I would expect him to at least be competent.
But left back is going to be interesting now with Dave Romney suspended. We're going to have to pluck someone from LA Galaxy II, probably Nathan Smith, but he's normally a center back and I'm not sure if he's going to have the pace to keep up with your wingers. The only other option I see is Sebastian Lletget sliding to right back and moving Rafael Garcia to the left. Lletget played the last 15 minutes or so of the previous match in that position when the Galaxy were searching for a second goal, though that's probably a long shot.
Until the side win something of note there are going to be major questions about Curt Onalfo and the new-look Galaxy; so, how are fans feeling about the state of the side and what has changed since Bruce Arena and company stepped away?
There's nervousness with the fans, I believe. Five of the starting XI played Los Dos at some point or another the previous year and only Daniel Steres had significant MLS minutes. But against Dallas, they kind of looked okay. Can they sustain that? I'm not sure.
The sense of guidance is gone. Bruce Arena always knew what he was doing when it came to roster moves and tactical changes on the fly during key moments of the match. While Curt does have previous head coaching experience, he's unproven with the fans and only time can change that.
We are all used to the Galaxy sporting some big names, but now they have stepped away from that path and seem to be betting on Romain Alessandrini and Giovani Dos Santos to guide the side forward. Are they for real? Can the Galaxy continue their string of successes without a Robbie Keane style player to lean on?
We won't know for sure if this side is for real or not until probably the middle of summer. They still need time to get healthy and they need more time to gel, especially with all the new faces in the squad.
Predicted XI: Rowe; Smith, Van Damme, Steres, Garcia; Alessandrini, Husidic, Pedro, Lletget, McBean, dos Santos