Guillermo Barros Schelotto doesn’t have to finalize his lineup until about an hour before Saturday afternoon’s home game with New York City FC, which is a good thing since the Galaxy coach went to bed Friday not knowing which starters will be ready to play.
Midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, arguably the team’s best player through the first 10 games, exited Wednesday’s loss in Columbus in the first half with what has been reported as a left hamstring injury. He didn’t train with the team Friday and his availability won’t be known until just before kickoff.
Right back Julian Araujo hasn’t played since twisting an ankle nearly three weeks ago. But he may have to play since Rolf Feltscher, the team’s other right back, is limping with a toe injury that slowed him the last two games.
Then there are the healthy players who simply are tired heading into the team’s third game in eight days, a span that included two cross-country flights.
“In the morning we’ll make a decision,” Schelotto said.
The Galaxy have won one of their last four games, scoring just five goals in that span. And the loss in Columbus was the second in as many tries, matching the team’s longest losing streak since last May.
“Every time you lose — if you play well and you lose or you play badly and you lose — there are a lot of things to learn,” Schelotto said.
Captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic also is slumping — well, by his standards anyway — with the Columbus game marking just the fourth start in which he failed to get a goal or assist since mid-August.
But the good news for the Galaxy (7-3-1) is they will be back at Dignity Health Sports Park, where they are an MLS-best 6-0, the team’s best home start since its first season in 1996. Meanwhile New York City (3-1-6) is unbeaten in its last six, the longest such streak in the league.
Kaye: No time for panic at LAFC
LAFC rolled through the first seven weeks of the season unbeaten and all but unstoppable, averaging three goals a game while giving up the fewest.
The team has won just once since. But midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye said there’s no sense of worry heading into Saturday’s game at Columbus.
“Our first 11 games of the season we lost one,” he said. “If the next 23 games are the same, we lose three games all year. So it’s not the right time to panic.”
Maybe not. But a little concern may be in order. LAFC (7-1-3) still has the league’s best record and highest-scoring attack but has won just one of its last four and has one goal in its last 209 minutes, with opponents frustrating that offense by playing as many as eight defenders behind the ball.
Kaye said it’s up to LAFC to make adjustments of its own.
“Teams are starting to change up the way they play against us,” he said. “But that excites us because now we get to work on different things and try to get better. Whenever you’re trying to make a good team and a good culture you have to be ready to adapt to certain things.
“We just have to get back to the way we’ve been playing.”
This weekend’s trip marks just the team’s third outside the Pacific time zone and comes against a Columbus team that snapped a five-game losing streak with a midweek win over the Galaxy. Saturday’s game will be the third in eight days for the Crew (5-6-1).
And while Columbus has struggled to score — only four teams have fewer goals than the Crew’s 12 — Zack Steffen has the highest save percentage of any regular goalkeeper in the league and is tied for second in shutouts with four.
“The last couple of games have been tough,” Kaye said. “It’s not supposed to be easy all the time. We’re just going to have to push through it.”