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Soccer

LAFC, Galaxy looking to shore up weak spots in final preseason matches

Los Angeles head coach Bob Bradley walks on the pitch before an MLS soccer match against the Seattle
LAFC coach Bob Bradley has been experiencing with different player combinations during the preseason.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

LAFC and the Galaxy both go into their final matches of the preseason Saturday with more than a few questions to answer before they start playing games that count next weekend.

LAFC is scheduled to finish its preseason at Banc of California Stadium against the Vancouver Whitecaps in a 5:30 p.m. game open to season-ticket holders only. And Bob Bradley’s team, which qualified for the MLS playoffs in its inaugural season in 2018, will be looking to shore up a shaky defense that has given up nine goals in its last three games.

Bradley has been experimenting with different combinations in an effort to get everyone on his roster some preseason playing time, and not all of those combinations have jelled. Offensively, LAFC has created chances, scoring 11 times in its first four exhibitions, but it hasn’t finished enough of them — especially in last week’s shutout loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.

As a result, the team has won just once in four games against MLS competition this winter.

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The Galaxy, meanwhile, have limped through the preseason largely without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ola Kamara, Sebastian Lletget and designated player Gio dos Santos. The team, which is set to meet the Colorado Rapids at Dignity Health Sports Park at 8 p.m., has scored just once in its last four games and hasn’t beaten a league rival this month. But it has played superbly on defense, giving up multiple goals just once in five games.

Ibrahimovic, who has been sidelined for precautionary reasons, and Kamara, who has battled illness, are expected to play Saturday. The two combined on the Galaxy’s first two goals of the season.

But Lletget, who is dealing with what he called a minor tear in his right hamstring, is out as is Dos Santos, who missed much of last season to injury. Both appear unlikely to be ready for next weekend’s regular-season opener.

Dos Santos is signed for 2019 at more than $6 million, one of four designated-player contracts the Galaxy are carrying. That’s one over the league limit but general manager Dennis te Kloese said this week the team will resolve that issue before rosters are set for the regular-season opener next weekend.

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Te Kloese said Dos Santos will remain on the team, likely meaning the contract of one of the four DPs — Ibrahimovic, Romain Alessandrini, Dos Santos and his brother Jonathan dos Santos — will be restructured to bring the 2019 value below the $1.5-million ceiling for non-DPs.

Both teams open their regular seasons at home, the Galaxy against the Chicago Fire on March 2, and LAFC against Sporting Kansas City a day later.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com | Twitter: @kbaxter11


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