Well, that didn’t go as planned. With Gyasi Zardes making his much-anticipated return to the LA Galaxy lineup, from off the bench, the night in Vancouver started well with the G’s picking up a 2-1 lead at half time thanks to a couple of goals from Romain Allesandrini.
Freshly off dealing young star Kekuta Manneh to Columbus—one of the more head-scratching trades in recent league memory—the Whitecaps headed into Saturday night’s showdown with just one point to their name. It’s no secret the Galaxy have struggled to start this season, what with the many changes both on and off the field this year, but it looked as if maybe…just maybe, LA might start to turn things around. Let’s get to business.
Diop with one of his classic absurd athletic saves just minutes into the game had a lot of us worrying that we may never see (my favorite) Brian Rowe ever take the field again for the Galaxy. But head coach Curt Onalfo will be left with plenty to mull over after the Frenchman inexplicably came flying out of his box nowhere near the ball for Vancouver’s first of the night just minutes afterward.
Not to fear, however, in the twenty-sixth minute, the other flying Frenchman Romain Alessandrini did exactly what he was brought into do—cut in on his left foot and score goals. LA’s newest DP was perhaps a little bit fortunate as the Whitecaps net-minder David Ousted bobbled the powerfully hit shot bringing the score level, but there’s a feeling starting to build that Alessandrini is starting to hit his stride.
Just minutes later, Alessandrini hit home for his second with a much cleaner strike following a low ball served by Ema Boateng. Vancouver had a late scare in first-half stoppage time as again Diop came flying out of his box, (this time probably correctly, however) but the Whitecaps were wasteful and the first half finished with LA leading 2-1.
That’s about it for the happy reporting. The postgame comments from the Galaxy were blunt and telling as Onalfo was noticeably frustrated with how his team let the game slip out of their hands. “We gifted the second goal, and we just gave them the third. We literally just passed the ball to their player. It’s simple as that. Good teams are going to punish you when you make errors like that.”
Captain Jelle van Damme was not beating around the bush either saying, “We f***d up pretty bad today. It’s all personal mistakes. This cannot happen,” Van Damme told LAGalaxy.com. “We played an away game, and at the end, we didn’t play well, and we were leading. Until the second goal of [theirs], we had everything under control. We f***d up in five minutes. … It was just bad.”
The Whitecaps tying goal was a product of LA not being able to clear their lines, despite Diop’s best efforts, Fredy Montero smashed home the rebound. It would get uglier, unfortunately, as less than a minute later the Galaxy failed to close down Matias Laba on the edge of the box who had about an eternity and a half to smash home the winner.
Throughout the second half, LA gifted chance after chance to the eager Whitecaps attack, with Bolaños coming close following a mistake from Ashley Cole. Vancouver’s little wizard Cristian Techera snuck through the entire defensive midfield and backline as if they didn’t even exist, but he put his chance just wide.
The game was done and dusted in the eighty-seventh minute as Matias Laba pounced on Diop’s initial save for his second of the match. The reality was LA never looked like getting back into the game, and there are still questions to be answered all over the field. There were some encouraging performances by Boateng and Alessandrini, and Zardes looked sharp coming back to his first minutes of action of the year, but Onalfo and co. have a lot of work to do in what may be a long season ahead.
LA now sits 10th, behind Minnesota. Yes, you read that right, Minnesota. Next up, the Galaxy head home for Friday’s match against a winless so far Montreal Impact side. Kickoff is at 7 pm from the Stub Hub Center, let’s see if someone on this Galaxy roster can right the ship.