Galaxy begins important stretch versus Minnesota United

When you’re fighting for your playoff lives, the next stretch of games is always the most important.

For the Galaxy, that would be the next 11 days.

The Galaxy, in 13th place in the Western Conference and six points out of the ninth and final playoff spot, hosts Minnesota United FC on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., Apple TV+), followed by a Sunday road game against Austin FC and concluding with a Sept. 30 home game against the Portland Timbers.

“This is important, huge stretch,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said. “Three games, it’s the season right now. We have to take the appropriate amount of points for the next games to be meaningful for us as well. That’s kind of where we are.

“One at a time. Minnesota at home, we need to come out with a more cohesive, not just effort, but performance than we did the other night (Saturday in 4-2 loss against LAFC). I thought we had decent moments inside of a game that was kind of up and down for us. We were still in it at 2-2, but a mistake that then turns the tide again.”

The mistake was Chris Mavinga’s errant backpass toward goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, which was intercepted by LAFC’s Denis Bouanga who turned it into a goal and 3-2 lead.

“The first half we were too opened up, exposing the middle of the field too easily and allowed them the opportunity to go left, go right and wherever they wanted,” Vanney said. “We weren’t in great position in transition. I think we’ve been much tighter and much better in terms of our connectiveness and control of games and I think we need to be aware of what happened last game and make sure we clean it up and rectify it as we go into this next game.”

Neal update

It has been a busy year for Jalen Neal.

He started 2023 in his first call-up to the U.S. national team and then right into his first season with the Galaxy first team, followed by another call-up to the national team, this time for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Since returning from the Gold Cup in July, Neal has made only two appearances with the Galaxy as he’s been bothered by what Vanney has described as a groin/hernia injury.

“We have done some different work with him with our doctors to try to manage the situation and bring down the inflammation and he’s still in an uncomfortable position,” Vanney said. “He will probably be trending toward a sports hernia surgery. He just hasn’t been able to get up to top speed, full speed in terms of training and everything that he needs to do right now.

“He’s been managing some of it doing the course of the season starting all the way in January camp, we slow-rolled him into our training camp and then he was having some off-and-on moments of fatigue. I had this as a player, it presents like you have a groin issue, but it doesn’t always bother you, but when you start to get fatigued or tired, whether that be in a game or having played multiple games, it starts to flare up and progressively it can start to become irritating over time.

“He probably didn’t have a huge offseason because he had to be ready to come into camp in January. He probably didn’t get a ton of rest from last year to then sliding right into our environment, to which he played a huge role earlier in the year.”

Minnesota United FC at Galaxy

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Dignity Health Sports Park

How to watch: Apple TV (MLS Season Pass)

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