A Jonathan dos Santos injury and tired legs doomed the LA Galaxy from the first half.
The LA Galaxy dropped their second consecutive game in the last four days when they lost to the Columbus Crew by a final score of 3-1 on Wednesday night at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. In a game that never approached the Galaxy’s best performance of the year, they were outplayed and out-hustled for the entirety of the 90 minutes.
And to add injury to insult, in this case, they watched as arguably their best player this season, Jonathan dos Santos, had to exit the game in the 40th minute with a left hamstring injury.
The Galaxy (7-3-1) were already tired heading into the match after staying on the road following their defeat to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon. And without any rotation — outside of Jorgen Skjelvik’s placement at left-back for Diedie Traore — the lineup stayed precisely the same.
That may have come back to bite the Galaxy and head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The defense gave up three goals for the second consecutive match and after being regarded as one of the best defenses in MLS through 9 games — having allowed just 8 goals — they’ve now given up six goals in their last two.
The Crew (5-6-1) opened the scoring when former Galaxy Homegrown Player Gyasi Zardes scored in the 27th minute off an inch-perfect pass from Robinho that caught Galaxy defender Diego Polenta chasing his mark. It was a deft touch that just barely deflected towards the back post and into the net giving Zardes his first goal in six games and his fourth goal of the season.
The Galaxy were outshot 12 to 11 on the night, four to three when you count shots on frame, hit one crossbar, and held a 53 to 47-percent possession advantage. And none of that accurately explains how poor and tired they were on the night.
For Columbus, Federico Higuain would score after halftime to extend the lead to 2-0 (Zardes with the assist) and then another former Galaxy player would slam the door shut as Hector Jimenez would make it 3-0 in the 66th minute.
Daniel Steres would add a consolation goal on the night to drag the Galaxy to within two goals, but with just three minutes remaining in the match, it was too much to overcome.
Steres was one of the few bright spots on the evening. He had a good night on defense and was one of the few players on that side of the ball to be able to walk away satisfied with his performance. The goal was his third of the year and tied his previous career high for a season (2017, three goals, 21 GP).
Steres now sits second on the team in goals, behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic who failed to score in a game for just the fourth time this season.
Polenta was lacking the sharp passing and tough defense that he showed on Saturday, and looked to have heavy legs — like most of the Galaxy defense.
Feltscher was poor throughout the night launching abhorrent crosses to no one in particular and his opposite, Jorgen Skjelvik was no better. And with so much of the Galaxy’s offense predicated on the outside backs getting forward, and being part of the attack, their lack of quality killed the Galaxy going forward throughout the night.
Overall, the Galaxy looked like a team that has been leaning heavily upon the starters through the first 11 games of the season. And with little to no squad rotation on the night, they looked tired and frustrated from the opening kick.
Schelotto had the option to play 17-year-old right-back Julian Araujo in this match after he recovered from an ankle injury he suffered against Minnesota. But he was left off the team sheet, as was Traore, with both being classified as a “coaches decision” by the club.
But a thin Galaxy bench was most evident through the center of midfield where the drop off between dos Santos and Carrasco is a steep cliff. And Carrasco’s replacement of dos Santos after the injury only opened up more room for the Crew to exploit between the midfield and the defense.
In total, the game is a write-off for the Galaxy. There was very little good to come out of anything and the travel, and the timing of these games — along with the relatively shallow bench — proved too much for the Galaxy to overcome.
And in losing the game, the Galaxy also missed out on a golden opportunity to take over the lead in the conference and the league from their crosstown rivals.
The Galaxy are chartering a flight home from Columbus tonight so that they can arrive back in Los Angeles and be on the training field for a regen session on Thursday. They’ll then have until Saturday to train and rest for a big match against New York City FC — who are already in Southern California awaiting the game (1 p.m. PT; ESPN).
But that plane ride won’t be nearly as restful as it could have been because no one sleeps well after back-to-back losses when they just missed a chance to be leading the league.