The Galaxy took version 2.0 out of the box Saturday at the StubHub Center. And though there are still a few bugs in the software, the program worked better than many expected in a season-opening 2-1 loss to FC Dallas.
"Very, very good starting point," Coach Curt Onalfo said. "A lot of optimism. We've just got to build on it."
Judging from Saturday's performance, he has a pretty good foundation to support that building. With the Galaxy missing three starters because of injury, Onalfo was forced into a lineup that featured two new central midfielders, a new winger, two new outside backs and a new forward — six players who had never been on the field together in a regular-season game.
The Galaxy also debuted a new coaching staff. Yet they outshot and outpassed Dallas — the best team in MLS during the 2016 regular season — and enjoyed a huge advantage in time of possession.
Dallas led where it mattered most, though, on the scoreboard.
"I thought it was a game we shouldn't lose," said Curt Onalfo, who was making his debut as Galaxy coach. "I thought we played well enough to get points out of the game."
Both Dallas goals came off Galaxy errors. On the first, two minutes into the second half, the Galaxy lost the ball at midfield, launching Maxi Urruti on a break up the center of the field. Urruti then pulled up at the edge of the box and sent a right-footed shot through the legs of defender Jelle Van Damme and inside the far post.
Gio dos Santos tied the score with a penalty-kick goal six minutes later. But when the Galaxy fell asleep on a throw-in, Kellyn Acosta made them pay, threading a right-footed rocket through Van Damme and center back Daniel Steres from the center of the area in the 69th minute.
"We deserved a result. We were the better team for most of the second half," said forward Jack McBean, who started for just the second time in MLS play since 2013.
Asked if he takes any consolation from the way the team played, McBean shook his head.
"We didn't win the game," he said.
The Galaxy had their chances. In the 62nd minute, Dallas goalie Chris Seitz got his left hand on a Dos Santos' strike from about 20 yards and knocked it over the crossbar. Two minutes later, a Jermaine Jones header beat Seitz but the ball bounced off the left post rather than into the net.
In the 72nd minute, McBean couldn't collect a cross from Ema Boateng at the near post and then Ari Lassiter, who didn't come on until the 86th minute, missed two golden chances. In the first instance, he split two defenders at the edge of the six-yard box but couldn't get his head on a long Van Damme cross. On the second, his left-footed shot from the edge of the area was headed wide by a Dallas defender deep in stoppage time.
"I didn't put the ball into the net. Those opportunities don't come often," Lassiter said in the quiet locker room afterward. "It's not the way I want to finish the game."
A few feet away defender Dave Romney was already thinking ahead to how the Galaxy will start their next game against Portland next weekend.
"We played pretty well for the most part," he said. "You can definitely notice a bigger level of comfort with each other. It's just finding your team's identity, the way you're going to play.
"Last year we had a completely different set of players with different skill sets and different physical attributes. It's a long season. So we'll see."