CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Romain Alessandrini is well aware the five-time MLS Cup champions face one of the most important off-seasons in franchise history, with the possibility of a new head coach taking charge and a potential front-office shakeup on a long list of potential changes.
“I think there will be a lot of movement,” he said.
Notice the popular Frenchman wasn’t talking about the current season, which came to a stunning end with Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo in front of a sold-out StubHub Center crowd of 27,068.
All the Galaxy had to do was beat the Dynamo, which had not won on the road since May and had only a single road victory to its credit this season prior to Sunday’s season finale, and the Galaxy were in the MLS Cup playoffs. In fact, they would have advanced to a knockout-round game against none other than crosstown rival Los Angeles FC.
But Houston rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit on a goal from Romell Quioto and two from Mauro Manotas, including the game-winner in the 79th minute, to crush the Galaxy’s postseason hopes.
“I just want to say sorry for the fans. Sorry for the team,” Alessandrini said. “I think we made the fans proud the last two months and we are sorry about the last 45 minutes.”
One play he was particularly sorry about was one that resulted in a penalty and Houston’s tying goal in the 72nd minute. Dave Romney had just made a clearing attempt in the Galaxy penalty area when Alessandrini jumped to try and kick it even farther away from trouble. The only problem was he failed to see the Dynamo’s A.J. DeLaGarza nearby. Alessandrini kicked him as he went up for the ball, referee Kevin Stott signaled for a penalty and Manotas scored his first goal of the match and 18th of the season.
Manotas supplied the winner and his club-record 19th goal five minutes later when he redirected a cross from Alberth Elis into the Galaxy net.
“I didn’t see the player behind me,” Alessandrini said of the pivotal play. “It was a big mistake. I was late; I tried to kick the ball out.
“I’m very sad about that because Houston came back after that. It was tough for everybody … I’m not happy about that.”
Alessandrini said he couldn’t figure out what happened to his team in the second half. The Galaxy had taken a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead after 45 minutes, thanks to two goals from Ola Kamara – and each of them assisted by Alessandrini along with Ashley Cole and Jonathan dos Santos – but the second half was another story.
“I don’t know why we play a different way,” Alessandrini said. “I think we forgot the basics. We saw maybe it was easy. I told you I think we forget why we were there. Our style was good, we played for each other and we scored some goals.
“We just have to blame ourselves; now we just have to move forward. A club like LA Galaxy has to make the playoffs every year. Without playoffs, it’s tough.”