For their first road trip of the season, the LA Galaxy packed light. Too light, as both Romain Alessandrini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t travel because of injuries. Thereby, leaving the Galaxy without any offensive firepower and something they couldn’t overcome in a 2-0 loss to FC Dallas on Saturday afternoon at Toyota Stadium.
Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto slotted in Emmanuel Boateng for Alessandrini and Chris Pontius for Ibrahimovic. He then gave an MLS debut to new signing midfielder Joe Corona and a season debut to Sebastian Lletget.
But it wasn’t close to enough. The Galaxy’s starting XI got just a single shot on goal — in stoppage time — thanks to a substitute performance from Efrain Alvarez, and Pontius garnered only three shots in total with none of them finding the mark. That includes a wide-open header that was hit wide towards the end of the first half.
On defense, the Galaxy looked disconnected from the midfield triangle of captain Jonathan dos Santos, Corona, and Lletget, and their spacing was often abhorrent. With Diego Polenta’s tenancy to move forward and attack the ball, he often left the remaining back three marking space with large holes opening up in coverage.
However, while Steres had a reasonably good showing, Polenta made sure he was the reason for Dallas’ first goal of the afternoon when he made a high kick toward a bouncing ball inside the box. The foul — soft for sure, but easily confirmed for a penalty — led to a Reto Ziegler conversion for the 1-0 lead in the 53-minute.
Dallas would score again eight minutes later when Bryan Acosta would rocket a right-footed, sweeping, shot that moved away from Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham and into the right side of the net.
It was a play that saw the Galaxy midfield fail to track back and didn’t catch the late run of Acosta. It was also reminiscent of many of the defensive breakdowns of last week’s game against the Chicago Fire.
So while Galaxy fans shake their fist at a dissolving defense, it’s the midfield who has been most to blame for a large amount of space teams have been granted through the first 180 minutes of play in 2019.
The only bright spots to come out of the game was the aforementioned shot from 16-year-old Alvarez and the MLS debut of Ethan Zubak. Although, Uriel Antuna was creative throughout the match. If it wasn’t for some shoddy finishing, he might have had an assist or two.
The Galaxy have always had trouble in playing Dallas, having won just nine of the last 37 matches played there. And in this game, Dallas just held onto the ball more than the Galaxy. In the end, the Galaxy managed 35-percent possession and were almost out-passed by a two-to-one ration (643 to 341 total passes). They also outcrossed (21 to 9) the Galaxy as well.
It was domination from beginning to the end. Outside of the final minutes of the first half that saw the Galaxy build possession, connect passes, and unlock a stingy Dallas defense.
The transfer window doesn’t close until May 7, so they have time.
The club will get another chance at redemption as they head back home next weekend. They’ll face off against Minnesota United on Saturday (March 16, 7:00 p.m.) and will look to build off the lessons learned from this match.
However, if they can’t pick up the pieces, and if Ibrahimovic can’t be part of this team next week, the Galaxy will need to find some offensive firepower to bring some fear into opposing defenses and to take the pressure off the Galaxy defense.