CARSON, Calif. — It only took a few seconds for the Colorado Rapids (1-9-2) to end their 11-game winless streak at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday evening at the expense of an LA Galaxy (7-5-1) team that has now lost four games in a row.
The 1-0 loss in front of the 19,015 who braved a windy day by Southern California standards saw a Galaxy team that was dominant in almost every statistic, and who pinged the upright once but couldn’t find the final ball that would lead to a goal.
And without the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic to rescue them, they lobbed uninspired cross after uninspired cross into the box in hopes the diminutive Emmanuel Boateng would somehow rise above the rest of the Colorado defense and score.
It was a lesson in persistence if not stupidity.
33 times the Galaxy made a cross from open play, with 22 of those crosses coming in the second half. And almost like clockwork, Rolf Feltscher and Uriel Antuna made the same overlapping run on the right side. And each time, the cross was dealt with by the Rapids.
“I think we could have managed the ball better during the game,” Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said of the match. “When they got the ball they just counter attacked us. They gave us the ball to manage, but I think we fell on the last pass or when we got in the box we never were able to find a player to score. We had some situations to score, but we couldn’t.”
Schelotto’s Galaxy more than doubled Colorado’s attempted passes (628 to 300) and the Galaxy held over 67-percent possession on the night.
But the Rapids, with their less than 34-percent possession, racked up 22 total shots, with 13 second-half shots from inside the box. The Galaxy managed 14 shots from inside the box but couldn’t find the back of the net.
With Jonathan dos Santos taking over the captains role from Ibrahimovic, the Mexican International was dominant in the center of the field. And his passing connections with fellow midfielder Joe Corona and Sebastian Lletget were as dangerous as ever.
But once the Galaxy hit the top of the 18-yard box, the ball would ultimately go wide, and any penetration into the box was lateral instead of vertical. Colorado just had to track the eventual runners that would arrive with the final cross.
“It might be too simple,” Galaxy defender Dan Steres said when queried about the Galaxy’s large number of crosses. “But there were times that I think we got in good spots, but it wasn’t the right cross because we don’t have the biggest guys up there. Or it just wasn’t the right time. We might need to figure out another way to pull the other teams out because they are kind of waiting for it now.
“We’re getting in good spots, but we need to do something more and something different there,” he continued. “Today, I think we were also a little unlucky with a couple that we didn’t knock in.”
And Steres isn’t wrong. Diego Polenta hit the post in the 60th minute, and Favio Alvarez — who was making his MLS and Galaxy debut — had his shot blocked more than a minute later on another dangerous look.
But it was that quick counter-attack in the 83rd minute that saw Andre Shinyashiki score on a three vs. two run that ultimately undid the Galaxy.
“Yes, it’s very frustrating. I’m lost for words,” dos Santos responded when it was pointed out that the Rapids had won only two of their previous 21 games. “We were doing so well at the start of the season. It’s difficult when you go through bad runs.
“I think the team attempted and tried until the end. We dominated ball possession on their half, like usual.”
The Galaxy are now 3-4-0 all-time when Ibrahimovic doesn’t play and are 2-5-1 in 2019 when Romain Alessandrini doesn’t play. And with Ibrahimovic suspended another game, and Alessandrini out until at least September they’ll be without two DP’s for at least one more game.
The Galaxy will have a short week to correct the problem as they’ll head to Orlando on Wednesday for a Friday night game. Things will need to change if the club is going to get any points out of May after being the best team in MLS in April.
“It’s sad because we are the LA Galaxy and the fans don’t deserve this,” dos Santos explained. “Four consecutive games that we lose is something no one likes, but Friday we play another game, and we hope to go back to winning ways.”