The Wings That Have Lifted the LA Galaxy to a Hot Start

After a decade of mostly disappointing seasons, the LA Galaxy have gotten off to a promising start in 2024. Although the team is just four matches into the new season, the Galaxy’s attack looks reinvigorated, largely thanks to a series of new wingers that have added a much-needed spark.

It goes without saying that the Los Angeles Galaxy have been fighting an uphill battle for multiple seasons. Since last winning the MLS Cup in 2014, the Galaxy have zero top five finishes in the league, and have missed the playoffs more times than they’ve qualified.

After a 20th-place finish in 2020, the club looked to be making some big moves to turn things around. The club signed both Samuel Grandsir and Kevin Cabral from France to sharpen its play out wide, and with a marquee signing in Douglas Costa the following season, it seemed like the Galaxy finally had a competent attacking front. That was far from the case.

Costa registered just 16 total goal contributions in two seasons, and was criticized for his heavily uninspired play. Cabral wasn’t much better, with 17 goal contributions between 2021 and 2022.

In that time, the Galaxy only made it to the playoffs once, losing to bitter rivals LAFC in the Western Conference semifinals. Despite problems on all fronts, it was clear the Galaxy were in desperate need of wingers who could fit head coach Greg Vanney’s vision.

However, in the early stages of the 2024 MLS season, the Galaxy seem to be a far different team. It is no surprise general manager Will Kuntz (formerly of LAFC) has raised the potential of this team substantially. Significantly reinforcing the Galaxy on all lines, his most impactful signings have been out wide.

It was clear the Galaxy had a different approach in the winter transfer window ahead of the 2024 season: sign young, experienced players who could be part of a longer project over multiple years.

Diego Fagundez, who joined the club from Austin FC in a mid-season trade in 2023, proved to be capable in his short time with the club, but after selling Tyler Boyd, the Galaxy needed a winger who could provide consistent results.

Enter Joseph Paintsil. The Ghanaian forward/singer (yes you read that right) signed as a key piece for the Galaxy in the winter. His arrival to the team gave it a much-needed offensive jolt of energy. His explosiveness has changed the dynamic of the Galaxy attack, and his inverted runs have given the illusion of an extra striker, giving the actual No. 9 Dejan Jovelic more space and freedom on runs.

In addition, the Galaxy brought on Gabriel Pec, a 23-year-old Brazilian winger who spent the last five seasons with Vasco da Gama. Pec’s flair not only gives a refreshing look to the attack, but also allows the Galaxy to create more diverse options compared to their dull play from last season. His presence has also pushed Fagundez to increase the level of his play as well, as both are fighting for the left wing spot.

The result has been a much more cohesive and threatening offense, which is bolstered by a solid midfield headlined by Riqui Puig. Through four matches, the Galaxy have scored nine goals, the second-highest total in the league and the most in the Western Conference. This is a small sample size, but it’s far more promising than nearly anything the Galaxy have put forth in recent years.

If the club can stay consistent and healthy (two very big ifs), it is built to make a deep playoff run which could ostensibly finish in a long-awaited return to glory. At the very least, however, it gives Galaxy fans, who have for so long protested their club’s seemingly complacent nature while watching their crosstown rivals experience more success, something exciting to watch and be optimistic about.

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