LA Galaxy

Should LA Galaxy partner Chicharito with Dejan Joveljic?

Chris Smith
Joveljic has worked wonders from the bench this season.
Joveljic has worked wonders from the bench this season. / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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The case for the LA Galaxy to switch to a two-striker system was given another boost on Saturday.

After struggling for 88 minutes to find a breakthrough against the Portland Timbers - even going 1-0 down in the first half - the Galaxy finally grabbed a late equalizer.

It'll come as no surprise to any LA fans that the goal was scored by Dejan Joveljic, who headed home Julian Araujo's cross while Chicharito had pulled outside the box to create more space at the near post.

That understanding of each other's movements has defined the partnership between Chicharito and Joveljic when paired together this season, as has their ability to combine in tight spaces and drag defenders out of position for one another.

In LA's previous match - a 4-1 win over Austin FC - Joveljic came on in the second half and within four minutes, had assisted a Chicharito goal, going on to set up another and score two himself.

Still, head coach Greg Vanney has remained hesitant to regularly start the Galaxy in a two-striker formation, concerned about what his team will lose elsewhere on the field as a result.

“There’s a tradeoff when you play with two forwards,” Vanney said after Saturday's match. “And what do you lose, and what do you gain from doing something like that? For us, this was maybe a little bit of a sample of what that might look like.

“I still think that’s something that we can use, but I don’t know that it’s something that I can say is going to be primary for us. But it’s something that we can certainly look at in the right moments or the right scenarios are there for us.”

Despite Vanney's hesitance, the four points taken from losing positions over their last two matches have served to magnify the effectiveness of his two strikers as a partnership. Four of their combined 10 goals in MLS play this season have come while both Joveljic and Chicharito are on the pitch.

For their part, both players would be more than happy to line up together, should Vanney opt for the change.

“It's my pleasure to play with Chicharito," said Joveljic, who has started just one MLS match this season. "I have no problem to run to him, to cover him, to play more defense and then we are in a higher position. We can score against every team in the league.”

Chicharito added: “Anything you give to [Joveljic], he’s going to put away. Even in training, he is finishing. He is doing what he does, that’s why he’s getting his time.”

All of that said, just because Vanney continues to restrict Joveljic to a super-sub role, that doesn't mean the Serbian - who also has three goals in three US Open Cup appearances this season - isn't making an impression on him.

“I think because of the sharpness of some of his movements – he’s a very good finisher – he’s able to find these little windows to get things on goal,” Vanney said of the former Eintracht Frankfurt striker.

“He has a lot of similar forward qualities to Javier, in that he’s not going to dribble by a bunch of guys. He’s not going to create a lot of chances just kind of on his own through plays. He’s going to get his chances through collective play, through timed movements, through good balls into good spots, through the way we’ve seen him score goals over the last few weeks.”

For his part, Joveljic just needs to remain patient, keep scoring goals, and surely starting chances will become more frequent.

“I think that fans recognize my efforts, my fighting for this team, but that's nothing,” he said. “That's not the time to think about that. I mean, I just want to work hard, to keep pushing, to keep working hard and my chance will come.”


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