CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy took two leads in the second half, but just as they previously did against Minnesota United on Saturday night, they allowed those leads to evaporate against the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night at StubHub Center in a 2-2 draw.
The sparsely attended game — routine for a weekday — made the stadium cavernous during stretches of the first half. Add in protesting supporters groups and sanctions from the front office and the mood through the first half was more of a funeral than a soccer game.
The Rapids (6-12-6) gathered much of the possession in the first 45-minutes and the Galaxy seemed to be content with allowing them to run with the ball in dangerous positions.
And while the first half would see a 0-0 scoreline, the second half was just waiting to explode with poor defense from both teams and four goals.
The Galaxy (10-8-7) scored first on the night — as they had done in their previous two games.
Ashley Cole, making an advanced run up the right-hand side got a line-skipping pass from midfielder Chris Pontius inside the penalty box. Cole’s quick cut to his right shook Rapids defender Kortne Ford and fired the ball past Tim Howard for the opening tally.
“I just tried to make a run kind of down the line and didn’t get it and I ran inside, ” Cole said of his goal. “I’m not too sure who passed it to me. I got a good touch, it kind of opened up for me and I had a nice finish.”
It was Cole’s third goal in a Galaxy shirt and it was his first in over a year — last scoring in the Galaxy’s 6-2 loss to Real Salt Lake on July 4, 2017.
But just 15 minutes later the Galaxy would find the score level once again. That’s when Edgar Castillo gathered a ball that was headed out by Galaxy defender Jorgen Skjelivk.
Castillo got on the ball quickly and darted at defender Dave Romney forcing him to stop in his tracks. But in pausing, Romney failed to run out to Castillo and the defender fired a left-footed bullet across the goal, past goalkeeper David Bingham, and into the back of the net to draw even in the 74-minute.
But the see-saw battle wouldn’t end there. Four minutes later it was the Galaxy, and Sebastian Lletget, who would once again take the lead.
Romney lofted a cross into the Rapids’ box, only to see the ball bounce from Pontius, to striker Ola Kamara. But it wouldn’t settle, and eventually, Kamara kicked the ball towards the right side, aided by Pontius, where Lletget was waiting with a left foot that curled around Howard and into the back of the net.
It was Lletget’s second goal in two games and it made three total for his 2018 season.
But again, the Rapids weren’t done.
And in the 82-minute, a shot from just inside the box by Niki Jackson deflected off substitute Dan Steres and cruised over Bingham’s outstretched hand just above his head. The deflection seemed to catch Bingham flatfooted and leaning in another direction — the ball nearly grazing the top of his head.
“I mean the first goal cannot happen,” Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic told reporters after the game. “The ball goes out and you need to pressure. Basic thing. (The) second goal should not go in. Basic thing is you should be on your toes and you’re ready always when the ball comes.
“So basic things we make it look difficult and it cannot happen.”
Schmid and the Galaxy have seen this all before. And the basics and the lack of effort defensively seem to have made raw an already sensitive nerve with the coach.
“Yeah, I mean it’s not good,” Schmid said when talking about the Galaxy’s propensity to give back leads. “It’s not good defensively. It deals a little bit with mentality. And it deals with our organization. It deals with our communication on the field.
“On the first goal the ball gets cleared out and we don’t step out,” he continued. “We walk out. Again, we can talk tactics and we can continue to work on that, but that’s not tactics, that’s effort. We need more from them (the team).”
The Galaxy will look to mend their wounds and travel a team that might not include Ibrahimovic when they go to Seattle, and its turf, this weekend.
They sit in forth place in the Western Conference with nine games left in the season. And while they’re still well within the playoff hunt, wins in their last three games would have seen the team sitting seven points higher. Results that are not lost on them.
“If you look at the table, at the fixtures, if we take all the points we should have taken, we are probably first or second in the whole league,” Ibrahimovic said.
“So everybody talks about the playoff,” he continued, “and the way we play now we don’t even deserve playoffs. So that is how the situation is.”