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Galaxy need defensive improvement vs. Atlanta United

Jul 16, 2022; Commerce City, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Jonathan Lewis (7) fields the ball ahead of LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo (2) in the first half at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Galaxy could debut their new midfield signing when they host Atlanta United on Sunday night.

Either way, coach Greg Vanney expects to have more steel in the center of the park than in previous matches during a recent slide.

The Galaxy (8-9-3, 27 points) enter the weekend in the seventh and final Western Conference playoff spot after losing four of five and conceding 11 goals in that stretch.

The last two came without injured defensive midfielder Mark Delgado, who has been one of the Galaxy’s most important players in terms of improving their defensive record from 2021.

Vanney said his absence in the last two games showed, and overall the defensive midfield was a concern enough that the club also signed Uruguayan Gaston Brugman a couple of weeks ago.

“I think we’ve suffered from that a little bit as a group the last few games,” Vanney said of a lack of midfield depth. “And for now, it’s just for us to regroup and get going and not allow the last couple of results to get to us emotionally. We just have to recognize that that’s where we were in the moment, and we didn’t manage the situation perfectly.”

Delgado and Brugman are both available for the first time on Sunday against Atlanta (6-8-6, 24 points), which has had its own defensive issues while languishing in 11th in the East.

But last weekend the offense fell short in a 1-1 home draw against Orlando City.

Defender Juan Purata scored his first goal since signing on loan from Tigres UANL of Mexico in a deal completed in late June.

But the combination of spectacular goalkeeping by Pedro Gallese and wasteful finishing from Purata’s teammates kept Atlanta from securing its first consecutive wins since last September.

Even so, back-to-back solid performances following a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday may be a positive step.

“It shows that we’re improving, but I think we have to consistently show that we’re back,” defender George Campbell said. “That starts last game, it starts next game and it has to be every game that we’re putting in that kind of effort.”

–Field Level Media