With four games in the books, the LA Galaxy could have hardly imagined a better start to the Greg Vanney era.
There's been one notable hiccup, a 3-0 road defeat to the Supporters' Shield-leading Seattle Sounders that offered a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. But the Galaxy have emerged victorious in their three other games, the latest of which was an emotional 2-1 El Trafico triumph over LAFC, the type of result that can be pivotal for a new coach trying to instill belief and identity.
To keep it rolling, the Galaxy next face Austin FC on Saturday (3:30 pm ET | Univision, TUDN, Twitter). The expansion outfit has been solid so far, going 2W-2L-0D while awaiting Q2 Stadium's opener and generally playing cohesive and purposeful soccer. Speaking with reporters on a Thursday video call, Vanney said he's been impressed by what the opposition manager, Josh Wolff, is building.
"Results-wise they've done really well," Vanney said. "It doesn't surprise me how they play, I think there's a lot of familiarity there between what they try to do and what we saw from the Columbus teams in the past – good in possession, really trying to get their wingers in these progressions, working inside and outside into the depth and getting their fullbacks high into the attack.
"Josh, it doesn't surprise me, he's a good coach," Vanney added. "I think he's got a formula that has been successful in the past and he's just translating that. He's been able to build a team off the pieces [of] exactly what he wants, go out and find those over the course of a couple years to find the pieces that fit what they want to do. It's no surprise with the group of people that they have working there together."
It's easy to get caught up in LA's strong start and the goalscoring exploits of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, but Vanney said internally they're looking to fine-tune and reach the next level.
"Our primary focus, really, for this weekend is on us," he said. "I think the first four games of the season, I think we've done a nice job of playing against our opposition, not so much against Seattle, but the other games. We've got to really [take] a step now to really work on us and our vision and getting some things tightened for us."
One specific objective is shoring up the defense, something that's been an issue for Galaxy teams over the past few seasons. While they've improved in stretches, LA have still conceded eight goals through their first four games. Even still, center back Derrick Williams feels the El Trafico victory shows that their work on the training ground is starting to pay off.
"We can't be conceding two goals a game," Williams said. "I don't think that's anywhere near good enough, so definitely that's one of my goals throughout the season, is to get a lot more shutouts and as a team defend better. I think LAFC was the first game we felt like we were defending as a team. I felt the other games were kind of not as much organized, but LAFC you could see we were in banks of fours and we looked pretty solid and I felt like they couldn't break us down, so it was a lot better."
Added right back Julian Araujo: "I know we're going to want to keep the ball a lot, move side to side. We're looking just to try to break them down and score goals, man. We want to score more goals and keep a clean sheet for sure."