CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy reaped exactly what they hoped to by employing a rare diamond midfield in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake, in effect revealing another new facet to a club that faltered last year largely because it was so one-dimensional.
Is it something we might see again? When the situation calls for it.
“I think when you have a good soccer IQ, when you have players with good soccer IQs, you can sort of work within any system,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan told reporters on Tuesday. “I think if we had to go to three in the back, 4-4-2 or a diamond, we have the players that have experience and a good IQ that can sort of work through that.
“It may not be the last time we see it.”
It wasn't the first time, either, noted head coach Bruce Arena, who doesn't put a lot of stock into formation analysis.
“Formations vary throughout games,” he said. “One thing is for sure, we have four in the back. How those other six line up changes from game to game and during games. You can't think that [a new formation is] the reason something went well or didn't go well.”
Except sometimes you can, and the Galaxy's diamond, meant to match up with RSL's traditional alignment, made for a midfield slog in an often intense battle that saw few genuine scoring chances and favored neither side.
The Galaxy stationed Landon Donovan at the top, his chief duty to prevent Kyle Beckerman from regulating the game's flow. Juninho was underneath, and newcomers Baggio Husidic and Stefan Ishizaki pinched in from the wings. It enabled the Galaxy to keep Beckerman and playmaker Javier Morales quiet, and if not for poor defending on a first-half set piece, they likely would have won the game.
“The idea of having Landon a little more central was paramount to what our goals were in the game and put a little more pressure on a team that is very centralized,” Sarachan said. “I thought for the most part, the way we played stifled them quite a bit. It was a battle of the midfield, quite frankly, and I thought by the end we had a little bit of the edge.”
- Get more Galaxy news at LAGalaxy.com
“We weren't going to show up there and dance around on the ball and play pretty soccer. I don't think that would have gotten us any result ...,” said the striker, who joined the Galaxy this season after 11 years in Europe. “I wasn't here last year, but I don't think we had that dimension, and some games we're going to have to play like that to get tougher road wins, at least walk away with a point.
“That just showed we can dig down and play a little bit dirtier and grind out a result. You need to do that throughout the season, especially on tough away games playing against a team like Salt Lake. Then when we come home, we maybe play a little bit differently. Who knows.”