Carson, CA – The LA Galaxy hosted the best-in-the-league Colorado Rapids at StubHub Center on Wednesday night looking to break a 212 minute scoreless streak and put an end to a five game winless streak. And while the shutout will be an okay result for a difficult to break down Rapids team, it’s not the result the five-time MLS champs will be happy with.
The good news for the LA Galaxy is that they returned two injured DPs to the field in this game. Giovani dos Santos, who had been suffering from a quad strain and Steven Gerrard and his hamstring both saw significant minutes. But the real surprise for the LA Galaxy was starting newly signed LA Galaxy player, Jack McBean. McBean rejoined the senior team for the first time since October 16, 2013 and since he’s been tearing apart USL competition (2015 LA Galaxy II MVP and current 2016 goals leader in USL).
“I think Jack [McBean] had a good game, he did a good job and made a bunch of good plays on both sides of the ball. We [thought] of taking him out actually, but he continued to play well so we kept him in there. I think he did a real good job, he held the ball up, drew some fouls, helped create a few chances and for his first game with us this year I thought he did very good.” Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy Head Coach
The bad news is that LA Galaxy defender Ashley Cole missed out tonight’s game with an unspecified injury that looks to be minor and shouldn’t see the star left back out for too much time but an exact timetable is unknown.
However, it was another slow start for the Galaxy. While they split possession with the Rapids on the night they created few dangerous chances in the first half and had to rely on several game-saving plays from Goalkeeper Brian Rowe.
Especially in the 31st minute where Colorado’s Marlon Hairston flew past Baggio Husidic who was caught up the field. Hairston went one-on-one with Rowe and came out on the losing end. The play nearly repeated itself in the 60th minute as well with Rowe stopping Hairston from close range.
With Baggio Husidic once again try to push the attacking end of the LA Galaxy’s offense from the central midfield position real chances on goal were lacking. LA only registered a single shot on goal, a Nigel De Jong header, in the first half. And outside of Nigel De Jong who had a solid night in his defensive midfielder role there aren’t many highlights to point out. A 0-0 halftime score was probably deserved and changes needed to be made in the second half.
Bruce Arena brought on Steven Gerrard for Husidic in the 61st minute. And immediately the offense jumped to life.
Emmanuel Boateng and Sebastian Lletget were more dangerous on the outside and Gerrard was able to create some key chances working down the middle of the field. It’s quite obvious that the Galaxy lack any real answer to the attacking midfield role with Gerrard’s absence and his inclusion means they have the best player at that position.
The Galaxy’s best chance came off a Lletget sprint down the right side of the field that saw him get around and behind the Colorado defense. His cross was low and behind the play to a wide open Emmanuel Boateng. Boateng, who’s primarily left footed let the ball come across his body to his favored foot. But the angle was probably better for a right footed shot and both goalkeeper Zach MacMath and Dennis Castillo were able to block the ball away from goal.
A minute later, off of a corner, Nigel De Jong found the ball bouncing at his feet and forced another save from MacMath even with the ball pinball-ing through the Rapids back line.
Gerrard sent Boateng through on goal again in the 84th minute but he couldn’t quite catch up to the ball as MacMath barely beat him to the ball.
It was probably the most dangerous the LA Galaxy have looked since their game against Montreal in a 3-2 loss on May 28th. In fact, that was the last time the LA Galaxy actually scored a goal in MLS play. It’s been 302 minutes since that goal and the Galaxy have are now winless in six matches. But LA has also only lost two of it’s previous 13 MLS matches. So points are being picked up, but it’s not enough to propel the Galaxy up the MLS standings.
But there is some optimism. Gerrard said after the game that he felt fit and was ready to play against San Jose in the last California Clasico of 2016 (unless the teams meet in the playoffs). With his inclusion in the starting lineup, and the continued use of Jack McBean and Giovani dos Santos, fans should feel better about the attacking parts of this team.
“It’s very difficult coming on as a sub to get your second wind. But I’m feeling OK and I’ll be telling the manager that I’m ready to start come the weekend. I’ll be in from the start of the weekend.” Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy Midfielder
This was also the LA Galaxy’s third shutout and that’s with a backline that saw Dave Romney get the nod over Cole.
In 2016 the Galaxy have yet to field the same starting lineup in consecutive matches. And with the injuries and international absences it wouldn’t surprise me to see that streak continue through the San Jose and US Open Cup matches that are next on the schedule.
While the scoreless and winless streaks are something to keep in mind while watching this team struggle to find offense, this Colorado game should serve as a good starting off point to correcting the teams problems as of late.
But it’s not just about looking dangerous. Steven Gerrard said:
“I think looking dangerous is not good enough. Looking dangerous should be a gimme. Every single game we’ve got to look dangerous, you know, we’re LA Galaxy. A couple of years ago we were champions of this country. You should look dangerous every single game. That’s not an achievement. It should be a gimme. So we need to go a step further and start creating better chances and taking those chances and getting goals otherwise you’re not going to win football matches. I think that might be five or six now… that we haven’t won. We need to win ASAP.”
The LA Galaxy will next travel to San Jose to play at Stanford Stadium on Saturday June 25th, 2016.