Carson, CA — The LA Galaxy ended a two-game home-stand with a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas on Wednesday night in front of just over 18,000 fans. The loss, their seventh of the season, ends the two-game winning streak and crashed the Galaxy back down to earth after starting to gain some positive momentum.
The loss also means the Galaxy fall further behind their 2017 numbers. The 2017 team was 5-5-3 through 13 games with a zero goal differential and 18 points. The 2018 team is 5-7-1 with a minus-four GD and just 16 points.
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid changed the lineup from their 1-0 win over the Earthquakes by opting to start Daniel Steres, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Servando Carrasco, instead of Jonathan dos Santos (away with Mexico), Michael Ciani (on the bench), Chris Pontius (on the bench), and Dave Romney (on the bench). With a number of games in rapid succession, Schmid was doing his best to rest players who have seen considerable field time in the recent days. And it’s a decision that may have cost the Galaxy on the night.
Hilliard-Arce was making just his second career MLS start, While Servando Carrasco got his first start since the Galaxy’s 4-3 win over Los Angeles Football Club back in March.
Steres, making his seventh start of the season, was the main issue early in the game. His loose passing and poor defending lead to multiple attempts on goal and put the Galaxy in some poor positions.
“I made some lineup changes because I thought with the game coming up with Portland I thought we needed to make sure we had some guys who were fresh,” Schmid said after the game. “So the first thing I’m going to do is analyze if I made the right decisions, but obviously there’s other opportunities.
“We have more than 11 players on this team and when your number is called you’ve got to be ready,” he continued. “Just our intensity and our desire, our drive, our determination in the first 15 minutes was not good.”
The fact the Galaxy (5-7-1) were able to weather a storm from Dallas early on was a surprising twist to their most recent defeats. In fact, they had seven attempts that were either on target or dangerous in the first half but somehow still ended up conceding two goals.
A 33rd-minute goal from Dallas’ Ryan Hollingshead put the Galaxy behind the 8-ball. The club is now 1-7-0 when allowing the first goal and is 1-5-0 when trailing at halftime. It’s a problem they’ve been fighting for most of the year.
The second FC Dallas goal came just before halftime when Dallas’ Cristian Colmán finished past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham to double the score for the visitors.
Schmid would pull Steres and Carrasco for Emmanuel Boateng and Michael Cian early in the second half while putting the Galaxy in a modified 3-5-2 with Cole pushing into a midfield position with Kitchen.
And at that point, being down by two goals, it made some sense.
But it also allowed for space behind the defense and Dallas was able to score another goal in the 66th-minute. Carlos Gruezo got the rebound on a blocked shot by Bingham who was forced into coming off his line to attack a break away from Michael Barrios. Barrios shot was tipped and slowed by the ‘keeper but Gruezo was able to beat Ciani to the back post to tap it in.
Ibrahimovic would answer back three minutes later after a Dallas turnover, Ola Kamara dished a ball off to Ashley Cole who quickly slipped a pass into Sebastian Lletget. Lletget’s quick pass found Ibrahimovic for the goal.
That’s when things would go a little sideways for Dallas. Their time wasting was masterfully executed and referee Drew Fischer seemed more than tolerant of the antics but needed to go to his back pocket for a red card on Dallas goal-scorer Colman for what he deemed was violent conduct — likely hands to the face of Ciani who was involved in a scuffle with Dallas.
Romain Alessandrini would hit the crossbar in the 85th-minute which would have brought the game to within a goal and would have really put the eight minutes of stoppage time into a frenzy.
But up a man, the Galaxy wouldn’t find another goal until the seventh minute of that stoppage time – tapping in a header from Pontius after a long ball from Kitchen.
On the night the Galaxy were outplayed by Dallas, which wasn’t the case against San Jose or Montreal, and Cole admitted as much after the game.
“If I’m honest, I think Dallas is a better team than Montreal or San Jose,” he said after the game in a response to the question.
“I think everyone’s frustrated,” Cole continued. “In preseason we come here and we have a lot of new faces and we’re kind of expecting from each other to really fight for the championship.
“There’s still a long way to go, but I’ll admit it’s not going our way. So every day we train hard, we play well together. So when it doesn’t work out on the pitch it’s disappointing. It’s not just me, I think all of the players are disappointed. Individually we can do better and as a team we can do better.”
The Galaxy will need to regroup quickly as their flight to face the Portland Timbers will depart on Thursday so they can hold training on Friday before playing on Saturday afternoon.
“It doesn’t matter how much you give if you don’t win, Ibrahimovic explained. “If the other team would be Barcelona or Real Madrid then I would say yes, we put in the hard work today and it was not enough, but we didn’t play against those teams so, no.”