LA Galaxy ‘need more stability’ in 2024

LA Galaxy center-back Maya Yoshida has put the 2023 season in the rearview mirror and is aiming for bigger and better things in 2023 with the five-time MLS Cup winners.

Yoshida joined the Galaxy in August 2023, looking to bring solidity to the backline after managing well over 350 appearances while in Europe playing for the likes of Schalke 04, Sampdoria, Southampton and VVV-Venlo.

Yoshida started off on the right foot with the Gs in a 3-0 triumph over Chicago Fire at Dignity Health Sports Park — in which he grabbed an assist — while also taking down in-state foes San Jose Earthquakes on the road 3-2 and drawing 0-0 against the impressive Houston Dynamo.

LA managed a 2-2 draw against expansion side St Louis CITY, and things were looking up for Greg Vanney’s side and there may have been a feeling they could snatch a postseason spot late on in the regular season.

However, LA won just once in their last eight games of the season – a chaotic 4-3 victory over Minnesota United – solidifying their place near the bottom of the Western Conference standings in 13th place with 36 points, just above Colorado Rapids who collected a mere 27 points.

“I’m very happy to be here but I’m not happy for the results,” Yoshida said exclusively to 90min.

“As a player, it was a very disappointing season last year. So, surely I want to make it much better than  last year, and I think everybody feels the same.”

The 35-year-old explained that it was a difficult challenge joining the Galaxy when they were near the basement of the Western Conference, as he was eager to take part in MLS Cup playoffs but didn’t get the chance to do so.

“The expectation was the same, to go through the playoffs. When I arrived, we are second from the  bottom, and we finish second from the bottom. So, literally, it’s not enough. And especially the performances weren’t stable.

“We shouldn’t concede [goals] like that. Because especially me, a center-back, the club expected me to organize the defense.

“Some games I did, some games I couldn’t. So we need more stability and we need to have more  defensive solidarity.”

Stability is something that the Galaxy must develop if they are to return to the playoffs, and the front office has moved to improve the defense that conceded the most goals in MLS in 2023 (67, which works out to roughly two goals conceded per game) by bringing in goalkeeper John McCarthy from LAFC, full-backs Miki Yamane from Kawasaki (a fellow Japan international) and John Nelson from St Louis CITY.

The club also hope to see USMNT figure Jalen Neal continue his development in his young career alongside the experienced Yoshida.

Yoshida, who represented Japan over 100 times at the international level and featured at three World Cups, believes that MLS is different from other leagues in terms of how it’s presented.

“It’s a very big difference from Europe, especially because it’s not football, it’s soccer,” he continued.

“I don’t think it’s bad. It’s good or bad. This is different. And it’s more like entertainment as well. So the league is very unique. The culture is different. So first of all, I have to respect. I want to  respect and I want to learn.”

Yoshida revealed that although he didn’t take part in the Galaxy’s 2023 Leagues Cup campaign, he likes the idea of it as it allows teams that aren’t doing so well in the regular season to have another shot at lifting a trophy as well as qualifying for the Concacaf Champions Cup – the exact position LA were in last summer.

“With the Leagues Cup, everything is possible. Inter Miami was last season [in the same position] same as us, like second from the bottom [of the table],” he said.

“Then they got the Leagues Cup title and we weren’t able to do the same. But this is important, how we make a good unit, with the solidarity and the fitness as well. We’ll see, we’ll see, everything’s possible.”

The Nagasaki, Japan native knows how different it can be playing against a Liga MX side, as he revealed his past experiences playing against El Tri while on national team duty with the Samurai Blue.

“When we (Japan) played against the Mexican national team, they are very, I would say, sneaky and  very good to fight. So yeah, we have to be careful of that.”

The Galaxy will hope to do better against their Liga MX counterparts this summer as they’re set to take on Chivas and fellow MLS side San Jose Earthquakes in West 2. Last summer, LA finished at the bottom of their group with losses to Vancouver Whitecaps and Club Leon.

Yoshida and the Galaxy, along with new blockbuster signing Gabriel Pec, will aim for a postseason slot this term as they kick-off their 2024 MLS season on February 25, at home against Inter Miami and Lionel Messi.

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