CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy offered the first indication of how they might play under new coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto during a scrimmage on Tuesday, and Ola Kamara couldn't be happier.
Schelotto used a 4-4-2 formation, with Kamara partnering Zlatan Ibrahmovic up top for the first hour of a four-period, 110-minute clash with Vissel Kobe at Dignity Health Sports Park's track and field stadium.
Kamara scored two goals, both from Ibrahmovic's service, as the Galaxy romped to a 4-1 victory.
“If we have that good defensive shape, I think it's a very good formation,” Kamara said. “I think last year we weren't strong enough defensively, so we had to run [to defend] and were not in the right positions all the time. But if we have a clear idea if what we're doing defensively and offensively, I think we can be a dangerous duo.”
Kamara, a natural striker, spent much of last season attacking from the flank with Ibrahimovic the lone forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation, a shape that saw the latter score 22 goals in 27 games.
But on Tuesday, it was Ibrahimovic who dropped deeper into midfield more often against the J-League squad that boasted stars like Andres Iniesta, Lukas Podolski and former New York City FC forward David Villa among its ranks.
“Ibra, he can play wherever he wants because he's very talented, and every time he's thinking about how he's coming [in] the play and what can happen in this play,” Schelotto said. “You have Kamara, he scores a lot, so I think if we have them both in the field [we are more dangerous in attack].”
Kamara scored 14 goals last year and has 49 in three MLS campaigns including the postseason. He, Ibrahimovic and winger Romain Alessandrini are building on connections developed last year. Mexican winger Uriel Antuna, acquired on loan from Manchester City, played on the other flank with the Galaxy's first group, in a shape reminiscent of the LA dynasty years under Bruce Arena.
“With this kind of players [in the attack], we have to play maybe in a 4-4-2,” Alessandrini said. “Sometimes Ibra like to come in a little bit inside top play as a 10. ... We'll see how we play, but the 4-4-2 maybe will be good.”
Schelotto will certainly play in other formations, but with a heavy focus on fitness during the first two weeks of camp that earned the coach the nickname "the Assassin," there hasn't been a lot of heavy tactical work yet. hasn't been a lot of intricate tactic; Kamara compared the Argentine's camp with the toughest he faced while playing in Germany and said the coach has earned the nickname “the Assassin.”
“We have been training really hard physically, not too much formations yet,” Kamara said. “He said we were going to start this week with all the fundamentals of the game, to be honest. He's just been killing us for the first two weeks. We haven't seen, like, too much of what we're going to do."
General manager Dennis te Kloese said the Galaxy's Designated Player situation could be finalized within a couple of weeks. LA has four DPs after Ibrahimovic moved into that status with his updated deal — Alessandrini and Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos are the carryovers — and is looking to buy down one of the salaries through Targeted Allocation Money, he said.