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    Galaxy looks to shore up defense as season winds down
    • September 29, 2023

    On one hand, the goal-scoring chances that the Galaxy struggled to convert early in the season are going in.

    However, keeping goals out has been the struggle heading into Saturday’s meeting against the Portland Timbers (7:30 p.m., Apple TV+).

    In its past three games, the Galaxy has scored nine goals but allowed 10.

    “We can’t keep conceding goals like this,” defender Maya Yoshida said. “It’s very frustrating to be honest. We should have done better.”

    As for the reasons, Yoshida listed several causes.

    “Communication, tactics, concentration, reading the game, especially the last two games, we’ve conceded the last minutes before halftime,” he said. “This is very clear and simple, easy to improve this kind of part because this is all about concentration to finish the game.”

    Despite the leaky defense, the Galaxy (8-11-10) is still in playoff contention, starting the week six points behind FC Dallas (40 points) for the final playoff berth. The Galaxy has fallen behind 3-1 in each of its last two games, but has rallied to secure points, first defeating Minnesota United (4-3) and tying Austin FC (3-3).

    “Far too many,” Vanney said of the goals allowed. “The low-hanging fruit for us is to eliminate the goals that we’re giving up and I think there are multiple reasons behind that. It starts with, again, us being more aware and diligent and responsible about how we lose the ball and where we lose the ball and our organization and discipline behind it to handle transition moments. And we have to make better decisions defensively in some of the transition moments.”

    Familiarity has also been a problem, especially for Yoshida. In his short time with the Galaxy, he’s been teamed with Jalen Neal, Chris Mavinga and Eriq Zavaleta at the center back tandem and he could add Tony Alfaro to the list this week.

    “In the game the other night, we were passive in our ability to get to the ball, but we were still had our wide guys were too high in the defensive posture, which just opened up all kinds of space between our lines and they were able to slip balls between us,” Vanney said. “If we can clean this up, I think our chance creation, our goal scoring, those things over this stretch have been very solid, but collectively we have to work together better and be individually more responsible in some of these moments.”

    Coming off the last two games, Vanney and company would settle for a simple 1-0 win against the Timbers.

    “Always chasing games makes things difficult,” Vanney said. “Having to score four goals to win a game is going to be a really difficult feat. We have to be able to win games 1-0, 2-1, like that, 2-0 would be nice and that would come from us being more stable on the defensive side.”

    Injury update

    Douglas Costa (hamstring) will be available. Fellow midfielder Riqui Puig’s status (ankle sprain) was unclear as of Friday afternoon.

    Final stretch

    After Saturday’s home game against Portland,  the Galaxy will head out on a two-game road trip (Oct. 4 against Seattle and Oct. 7 against Minnesota). After that, its final two games are at home games (Oct. 14 against Real Salt Lake) and MLS Decision Day on Oct. 21 against FC Dallas.

    Portland (11-11-9, 42 pts) at Galaxy (8-11-10, 34 pts)

    When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Dignity Health Sports Park

    How to watch: Apple TV (MLS Season Pass)

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    ​ Orange County Register