Carson, CA – The LA Galaxy (8-17-8) won their final home game of the season on Sunday evening thanks in part to Romain Alessandrini’s two goals and one assist and to Jonathan dos Santos’ first goal as a Galaxy player. The 3-0 win over Minnesota United FC (10-17-6) was just the third home win of the season for the Galaxy, who narrowly missed tying for the fewest home wins in league history with the 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny who finished with just two (2-10-2).
While this has been a disastrous and embarrassing season by almost any measure, for the night at least, the fans and players left happy.
The Galaxy started on the front foot when, in the 11th-minute, Alessandrini took a quick restart from Giovani dos Santos up the right-hand side. Alessandrini burst into space and entered the box with two Minnesota defenders, Collin Martin and Marc Burch, they turned slightly, but neither did enough to dissuade a shot. Bobby Shuttleworth tried to protect the far post but Alessandrini’s shot curved around him and bounced into the side netting for the opening score.
“it was good for me,” Alessandrini said of his goals. ” Now I have to make sure to do the same next year.”
It was only the 10th time all season the Galaxy scored the first goal of the game (6-1-3 when scoring first) but in all three home wins this season they were able to shut out their opponent — 2-0 win vs Montreal, a 3-0 win vs Colorado, and 3-0 win vs Minnesota.
Jonathan dos Santos would add a second goal on a somewhat controversial play when his reaction header in the 22nd-minute from just outside the 18-yard box hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced down. Galaxy players raised their arms to protest the non-call. But to no avail.
It wasn’t until a Minnesota attack stalled, seconds later, and the ball was kicked out of play, that center referee Alex Chilowicz signaled for a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.
When the review was finished, without the center referee going to the monitor, the Galaxy were awarded their goal and were finally able to celebrate.
It was Jonathan dos Santos’ first Major League Soccer goal and it also allowed Alessandrini to pick up his 11th assist of the season.
Minnesota would push back against the Galaxy, but they just couldn’t find the finishing touch. The Galaxy’s defense would give some ground but not fall apart. And to a man, they all gave some stellar performances in the face of some pretty desperate pressure.
Michael Ciani had by far his best game in a Galaxy uniform. He turned away several dangerous balls while facing his own net and paired well with Dave Romney who also played some stout defense. And, as he’s done all year, Ashley Cole was solid behind the ball, and dangerous and rampaging on the attack. No one player has played better defensively on the year and Cole proved once again why the Galaxy should consider inviting him back.
“Finally we’ve won at home, actually won a game,” Cole said with a smile. “You can see a lot of people come into the dressing room very happy. Everyone defended well, from the front to back. Diop made some good saves in the first half. We won, we’re happy.”
The same can be said about the entire midfield – specifically Jermaine Jones, and Jonathan dos Santos. In fact, it would be difficult to point to a bad game by anyone playing on the night.
“I’m not looking if the defense has a good game on defense, or if the offense has a good game,” Jermaine Jones told reporters after the game. “We have to play as a team. And if we do that we will win games. We have good players. If you go over the whole roster, we have a good team. But the team has to connect to each other and help each other. And if that’s the key and the point, we will win games.”
Alessandrini would score his second goal of the game in the third minute of stoppage time to cap off a two-goal night, but it was the hard work on both sides of the ball by the entire team that would lead to the victory.
“We bent a little bit, but we didn’t break,” Galaxy Head Coach Sigi Schmid mentioned in his post-game press conference. “The big thing for us, at halftime, was being able to finish out the game. Because we hadn’t done that really well.”
The win doesn’t solve all problems for the Galaxy. They’ll still finish with a franchise-worst 14 points at home (2007 finished with 21 points at home). They’ll also set a franchise record in losses at home with nine — the Galaxy finished with six losses in 1997, 2006, 2007, and 2012 – and they’ll finish with just three wins. The fewest wins at home in all 22 years of existence.
And unfortunately for the Galaxy, their probable escape from the MLS basement was halted with a Colorado Rapids win over Real Salt Lake. Meaning the Rapids remain one point clear of the five-time MLS Cup champs going into the final game of the season.
But on a night that was supposed to be about fan appreciation, the Galaxy sent a message that they are capable of winning games in Carson. Even if many see it as too little, too late.
The Galaxy will travel to take on FC Dallas for the 2017 finale on Sunday, October 22nd, in hopes of climbing above the Rapids on the final day of play. The Wooden Spoon, otherwise known as the trophy for the worst team in MLS, awaits if they can’t get points. And that’s one of the few trophies the Galaxy have never won in their 22-year history.