The LA Galaxy showed the same lack of defense on Saturday night in Toronto that they have all season. The 5-3 loss, the latest in a long string of embarrassing road scorelines for the club, puts the Galaxy on the verge of playoff elimination as they’ve failed to win in any of their last seven matches.
The Galaxy (10-11-8), hoping for that new coach bounce after dismissing head coach Sigi Schmid on Monday, saw more of the same from their porous defense and lackadaisical pressure on the ball.
The club started in a 4-3-3 formation this time around and interim head coach Dominic Kinnear chose to leave defender Michael Ciani on the bench. He was also without Giovani dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget – both of whom didn’t travel to Toronto because of injury.
The Galaxy started off as they have so many times this year; by allowing the first goal very quickly.
Victor Vázquez started the scoring in the 5-minute when he headed a ball from Gregory van der Wiel past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham for the first of the night. It was a poor defensive effort from Rolf Feltscher — who just returned from international duty with Venezuela — when he failed to mark Vásquez as he ran into the center of the box.
Toronto (8-14-6) would add two more goals — Jozy Altidore in the 16-minute, and Sebastian Giovinco in the 36-minute — before the Galaxy would finally make their presence known.
It was none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic who scored his 500th goal of his career and his 17th of the season when he round-house kicked a pass from Jonathan dos Santos in the 43-minute to get the Galaxy on the board.
Jonathan dos Santos lobbed a curling cross just outside the six-yard box begging Ibrahimovic to audaciously try to reach it with his foot. He, of course, pulled off the unlikely play and his spinning posture was perfectly timed as he kicked it past goalkeeper Alex Bono.
It was the type of outrageously imaginative thinking that is missed in Major League Soccer except for rare occasions. But the execution was perfect and the goal sublime.
He becomes one of only three active players to have 500 career goals or more joining Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonel Messi in that elite club.
“I mean, from my personal objective it’s fantastic,” Ibrahimovic said after the game. “I probably have more goals than the guys on the field have games together. Of course, it’s huge. I don’t know how many have scored 500 goals in their career, but I am one of them and if would feel nicer if we win the game but still, I did it so there is nothing I will hide from.”
And the Galaxy seemed to gain some confidence from the goal going into the break.
They emerged from halftime to score two more when striker Ola Kamara connected with a Jonathan dos Santos set piece in the 54-minute — the result of Nick Hagglund’s yellow card tackle on Romain Alessandrini– and Rolf Feltscher scored his first MLS goal on an assist from Ashley Cole four minutes later.
But the stalemate would end in the 75-minute when Jonathan Osorio would get on the end of a Marco Delgado cross to put the lead back within Toronto’s grasp.
They would add another in stoppage time for the final scoreline, but on the night they were the more dangerous team and capitalized on most of the Galaxy’s mistakes.
“Anytime you lose, don’t get me wrong some are more heartbreaking than others, but I thought at 3-2, and we said at half-time the next goal is going to tell a lot about the game, so we thought at 3-2 there would be a little jump in our step and the third goal we’re happy about it,” Kinnear said after the game. “By no means is the game over and I thought we were going toe-to-toe.”
“As I said before,” he continued, “the fourth for me, if you want to say it’s a good play by them that’s fine. But I thought we defended the cross very poorly and we did that a couple times tonight and we paid for it.”
The Galaxy have now conceded 16 goals in their last three road games and have conceded 59 goals on the season. That currently puts them in worst in the Western Conference in goals against and second in the league behind Orlando’ls 62 goals conceded.
The club is currently on pace to match or beat the most goals allowed in franchise history — a record from 2017 when they allowed 67 goals on the year.
Conversely, the Galaxy are tied for the conference lead in goals scored (54) with Los Angeles Football Club (with LAFC currently playing a match) and that puts them tied for second in Major League Soccer behind Atlanta’s 59 goals.
There isn’t much good news for the club. Even with Kinnear altering the Galaxy’s lineup some to include Bradford Jamieson’s first start since July 4, and Baggio Husidic’s inclusion for the first time since the same game, the Galaxy looked listless in the center of the field and utterly lost on defense.
And any boost the club was hopeful of gaining from the ouster of Schmid, already seems to have dissipated.
The Galaxy will now turn their attention to their next game — a matchup with the Seattle Sounders (September 23, 4 PM, FS1) — and will hope that a victory against them will somehow keep them in the race for the playoffs. But it’s a window that has narrowed considerably as the Galaxy have gone from third place in the conference to eighth in the conference in less than eight weeks.
The club is now winless in their last seven games, have one win in their last nine games, and haven’t won a match since the end of July. That spans 48 days as of the loss on Saturday night and will total 56 days when they take the field at StubHub Center next Sunday.
With time running out, it seems like an impossibility that the Galaxy make the playoffs in 2018. And that will once again raise questions about the overall health of the organization – an organization that is struggling to keep its head above water as it goes through two coaches since Bruce Arena left and are currently on the hunt for their third coach in as many years.
On Saturday night, however, the Galaxy didn’t have the mental toughness nor the defense to keep a talented, but struggling, Toronto team off the scoreboard. And for that, they’ll once again be lamenting the missed points.