Back in May, Galaxy coach Greg Vanney thought the team was close.
“It’s just trying to find the right balance with this group so that we can be a great defending team, but also be a consistently dangerous on the attacking side as well,” he said. “I don’t think we’re far away.”
Fast forward to today and the Galaxy, its supporters and everyone are still waiting.
The Galaxy (8-9-3, 27 points) is under .500 for the first time in Vanney’s short tenure.
Since those quotes in May, which came after a 1-1 draw against Minnesota United, the Galaxy has managed just two wins in MLS play.
Recently, things have fallen apart as it has lost three consecutive games and four of its last five heading into Sunday’s meeting with Atlanta United FC. In the short history between the teams, the Galaxy is winless, with nine goals allowed, in three games against Atlanta United.
“I think it is natural to be emotionally in a frustrated place,” Vanney said Wednesday. “I think that’s normal, but I think the key is to use that frustration to come out and compete and push yourself a little bit more. For each of us to take a quick peek in the mirror and make sure we have our priorities right as we come back and start up again.
“For me, this week is just to make sure everybody … the clarity is there for everybody in terms of their roles and in terms of how we want to approach this game, so they can feel confident and comfortable to go in and just execute on it.”
The Galaxy hasn’t won consecutive league games since early April.
Despite its recent struggles, the Galaxy went into the week still holding on to a playoff spot in the Western Conference. However, since it has the final scheduled game of the week, it might take to the field below the playoff line. That goes a long way to describe how crowded the Western Conference standings have become. With as many as 15 games remaining, there are seven points separating third place from 10th place.
“If you look at it as a pure points total, then I would say, there’s obviously urgency,” Vanney said. “I think the league this year is a little bit different than maybe it was in the past. I think there’s a lot of teams beating each other and that’s why you have a lot of teams grouped together (in the standings). I don’t know what the point total will be at the end, but you have to play every game, to take as many points as possible to separate yourself from wherever the (playoff) line is.
“So, is there urgency? Yes. I think we all feel that urgency. I think it is pressure we feel as a group from the first whistle of the season. It’s a long season, there’s a lot of bumps and bruises and ups and downs, but I think we’re all in the point now we see we’re in the second half of season and you kind of see the finish line isn’t too far away and there’s certainly an urgency for us to find that solid foundation and then to build off of that.”
New signing Gaston Brugman will be available. Defender Nick DePuy will be out, serving a one-game suspension due to yellow-card accumulation.
Atlanta United FC at Galaxy
When: 6:55 p.m. Sunday
Where: Dignity Health Sports Park
TV: Fox Sports 1