Carson, CA — The LA Galaxy feel like they were robbed. Afterall, they had a game-winning goal called back in the second half, and a controversial penalty kick awarded in the 84-minute that allowed the game-winning goal to be scored on them.
But in a game where the Galaxy (3-4-1) fell 3-2 to the New York Red Bulls (4-3-0) in front of 26,704 spectators at StubHub Center, and where they played from behind for nearly 70-minutes, they can have no one to blame but themselves.
“It’s another game where we need to chase the goal,” Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic told reporters after the game. “Just like the other games, we played at home. Like I said the last time, you chase the goal you play different. And today we played much different because we changed the tactics.
“But still you’re losing the game after six minutes. It’s not okay,” he continued. “To receive a goal so fast – chase that. Second half starts, you concede another goal so fast you need to chase even more.”
For the Galaxy, they have conceded first in five of their first eight games and have a record of 1-4-0 when allowing the first goal. They’ve also been outscored a combined 11 to eight in all their home games this season, and have been outscored seven to two in their last three home games with all three being losses.
The Galaxy started a different formation on the night, allowing for injuries to Jonathan dos Santos (calf – expected back for the Houston game) and Rolf Feltscher (Torn Pectoral Muscle – out 4 months). Dave Romney made his first start since March 24 (0-0 at VAN) and this time at right back. And Giovani dos Santos and Michael Ciani made their first starts since both picked up injuries in a 2-1 loss at NYC on March 11.
The formation (4-2-3-1) splayed striker Ola Kamara to the left of midfield with Giovani dos Santos taking up the playmakers role. Romain Alessandrini stayed at right midfield with Perry Kitchen and Sebastian Lletget taking up a deeper defensive role with Lletget able to connect the defense with the offense.
And for the most part, it was a clear success.
The Galaxy ended up putting four balls in the back of the net on the night, with two of them being called back for offside – one on Kamara (correctly overturned by VAR) and one by Ibrahimovic (controversially upheld by VAR).
“I thought we played better soccer,” Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid said in his post-game press conference. “I thought Ola Kamara did a lot of work on the side, showed he could score goals coming from there as well. [Sebastian] Lletget was playing deeper in midfield and did a lot of the two-way playing that sometimes we get from Jonathan [dos Santos] when he plays. I was pleased with the soccer that we played.”
But again, the club, after putting several dangerous chances together in the first five minutes of the game allowed New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips to cross a ball that somehow split the Galaxy Jorgen Skjelvik and David Bingham for the first goal of the season for New York’s Daniel Royer.
The Galaxy attempted to answer back in the 9-minute, but Alessandrini’s goal was waved off after VAR found Kamara to be a good two steps behind the back line.
The momentum seemed to slip from there.
In the second half, it would again be a lightning-quick counter-attack that saw Wright-Phillips land his second assist of the night when he found Florian Valot for an easy tap-in in the 49-minute.
Galaxy captain Ashley Cole, sprinting to try and get back at such a pace, that he slammed into Bingham hard enough to have Sigi Schmid begin to warmup backup goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg.
Bingham would remain in for the rest of the game.
The Galaxy would begin their comeback with a beautiful, diagonal pass from Ibrahimovic to spring Kamara free in the 59-minute. Kamara would race onto the ball and slot in his second goal of the season past Luis Robles.
“I mean, I don’t love it,” Karmara said of his new position. “But right now, it’s about starting to win. It’s all about the team. Maybe with time I’ll be back playing striker, but right now we just have to find a formula where we’re winning. Today we did better and I think we actually deserved to win today. We didn’t get the decisions with us. It was a little bit better, but it’s not enough.”
“Today we did better and I think we actually deserved to win today,” he continued. “We didn’t get the decisions with us. It was a little bit better, but it’s not enough.”
The Galaxy would pull level with New York when Giovani dos Santos right-footed in a header from Romney after an Ibrahimovic corner just seven minutes later. The goal, the first for Giovani dos Santos on in 2018, and his first goal since scoring twice against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 27 of last year – one day past 11 months ago brought the sold-out stadium to full voice.
When Ibrahimovic looked to have scored the game-winner after an inch-perfect pass from Alessandrini in the 78-minute, the comeback was complete — almost.
A hesitant near-side assistant referee started to raise his flag, only to return it back down for a brief second before finally raising the flag again to signal offside. The replay showed Ibrahimovic extremely tight with the last defender and had the linesman not raised his flag it more than likely wouldn’t have been overturned. But instead, the Galaxy found themselves still tied with 12 minutes remaining.
And that’s when a Kemar Lawrence cross looked to have hit the outstretched arm of Romney who was scrambling back while inside the penalty box. Only the replay and a mark on Romney’s back would prove otherwise.
Head referee Allen Chapman and VAR official Tim Ford, however, didn’t overturn the call and New York walked away with a highly controversial win at StubHub Center.
Schmid, however upset he was with the officiating, was adamant that the Galaxy’s failures were their own doing.
“You can’t give up goals in the sixth minute and the first minute of the second half,” he said. “That’s unacceptable. I thought [Michael] Ciani came in and played well. I thought overall our defense was okay.
“There’s a lot of teams in this league including the Red Bulls, they do a really good job disguising early fouls,” he continued. “If you look back and look at the fouls, we need to be a little more deliberate with our fouling in the early parts of the field to stop attacks. I think a lot of the teams do that. Atlanta does it successfully, both New York teams do it. The top teams are pretty good about making sure that they don’t get countered on and stopping plays. I thought we did a better job of that in the second half. But again, getting scored on that early was the thing that turned the game.”
The Galaxy will now take on a three-game road trip that will put them through two Western Conference opponents (Houston and Dallas) and one very long trip to Montreal. And this club is in need of wins!