Carson, CA – If you’ve been to any LA Galaxy games this year, it wouldn’t be hard for you to have missed their only home win of the season back on April 7, 2017, against a 10-man Montreal side. Since then, the Galaxy have lost four games and drawn three at StubHub Center – giving them the worst mark in Major League Soccer (1-6-3 at home). And Wednesday’s performance won’t make players or coaches feel like that’s about to turn around.
The Vancouver Whitecaps entered the game with a road record of 2-5-1 and had most recently hosted and defeated New York City FC and waltzed into Los Angeles missing five players to international duty.
What transpired over 90-minutes was a well thought out approach by Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson in which he allowed the Galaxy to attack while sitting players behind the ball. Then he countered at the Galaxy and created dangerous chances while forcing the Galaxy to track back. And while it didn’t lead to a goal directly, the foul that was carelessly given away in a dangerous area by Galaxy defender Bradley Diallo did allow Tony Tchani to get a head in on a set piece to give the Whitecaps the 1-0 victory on the night.
But the Galaxy shouldn’t have been as poor as they were. They received starting Center Back Daniel Steres back on the field for the first time in 54 days (leg injury), and also were able to welcome midfielder Jermaine Jones into the game after an absence of 75 days (knee injury).
“It’s good to have a lot of guys back on the field but we have to get them back on the same page again and getting some continuity.” Curt Onalof, LA Galaxy Head Coach
Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo, by mixing his available pieces, also was able to start Ashley Cole in a holding midfielder role while allowing him to keep left back Dave Romney on the field. Opening up the possibility that he could sub Steres off if he needed to in the second half and still have a full set of defenders.
Cole was really the lone bright spot on the night. The 36-year old defender was on the ball constantly over the 90-minutes and provided good pacing and passing throughout the night. Somehow, he also seemed to be one of the only Galaxy players to play with any sort of energy throughout the game. He rushed into tackles and effortlessly turned players and the ball in order to vigorously feed the Galaxy offense.
“He’s a great soccer player you can play him anywhere and he knows how to play. I thought he did a good job of helping us keep the ball and helping us dictate the game. He wants the ball in every occasion.” Curt Onalfo, LA Glaxy Head Coach
In short bursts, the Galaxy looked like a team missing just one or two smart passes. And at others, there were careless fouls and giveaways that left them on their heels. At times they played quickly with one and two touch passes. And again, at others, they seemed stagnant and fully out of ideas.
Galaxy striker Jack McBean missed the best opportunity of the night when Diallo – pushing up the right-hand side – caressed a curving ball across the goal. McBean was in alone as his head met the ball only to see it scream over the post. But the chance came in the third-minute and the club never threatened again in the opening 45-minutes.
“I had a clear-cut chance that I need to put away. A couple other guys did as well, but personally I want that one back. That would have changed the game, going up early like that against a team that’s kind of sitting back that’s exactly what we’re looking for. We just got to do better. We just have to finish our chances and we didn’t do that.” Jack McBean, LA Galaxy Striker
Romney would get the second best chance of the night on goal when his 51st-minute, near-post header was expertly saved by a diving David Ousted who was fully stretched to his right in order to make the save.
Ariel Lassiter, who replaced McBean in the 70th-minute, would get the final look at goal as his 88th-minute screamer was saved, again by Ousted, and forced out for a Galaxy corner kick.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that the Galaxy lacks the talent at striker to be a dangerous team in MLS. And if anything is to come out of this season, changes need to be made, and quickly.
Unfortunately for the home team, Frenchman Romain Alessandrini had to exit the game in the 74th-minute, with what is being reported as cramps. However, there may be more to it. He’s been struggling to stay healthy over a grueling number of games and his body may be in need of further rest – although you’d think that resting him against Manchester United would have been a priority if there was any doubt.
Another blow to the Galaxy, who will fly out to Boston on Thursday morning, will be that midfielder João Pedro will be suspended from that match after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. So the club will once again be thin at midfield and may have to rely on a not-close-to-90-minute-fit Jones – who will be traveling to face his former team (New England Revolution) and play on turf.
Really the only upside of the schedule is that the Galaxy have the best road record in the league with five wins, three losses, and one draw. A record they’re surely looking to better when they travel nearly six hours by plane to Foxborough Stadium.
The Galaxy will next get a chance to win at home on July 29, 2017, when they host the Seattle Sounders. When they walk on the field for that match they will have spanned 114 days since their last home win – a mark that has to be approaching a record of some sort (I smell research project).
But for now, the Galaxy, ninth in the Western Conference and 18th of 22 teams in the league will be left with lingering questions about the off-season construction of this team and the man who’s helming it.
Curt Onalfo’s job security can’t be guaranteed if he can’t win games in front of the home fans. Because, to put it simply, people in LA won’t pay to watch a bad soccer team that is devoid of real stars.
And right now, that’s all the field at StubHub Center will see – bad soccer. That is until the Los Angeles Chargers kick off their season. Then, perhaps, bad football of all kinds will be the unusual custom at the stadium.