CARSON, Calif. — This was not a repeat of the LA Galaxy’s last loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, and that’s about all the good you can say about the effort.
The Galaxy, leading at halftime in the second and final regular-season meeting between these two clubs, turned their 10-0-0 record when scoring first into an embarrassing loss at home in front of 22,508 at Dignity Health Sports Park.
The 3-1 scoreline barely does the Earthquakes any credit. They outshot, out-possessed, and out-passed the Galaxy until there was nothing left of the five-time MLS Cup Champions.
They also set team records in both total shots (32) and shots on goal (16) and should have scored a handful more. And the season-sweep from San Jose means more worries headed into another rivalry matchup in just a week against league-best LAFC.
Things should have been different for the Galaxy who got starters back from injury and international competition. But they weren’t.
And with the only heroic performance being turned in by former Earthquake David Bingham — who set a new career-high for saves in a game (14) — even while he allowed three goals, the highlights are short and simple.
This was not Bingham’s fault. It was everyone else’s fault besides Bingham and the coaching staff shoulders much of the blame.
“I think today we deserved to lose,” Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto told reporters in his somber press conference. “We played bad with no attitude. Even when we get the goal, very early in the game, and we start to manage the ball within ten or 15 minutes. But after 20 minutes in the first half, we lost the ball, and they managed the game.”
Starting for the first time in five games, Rolf Feltscher opened the scoring in the second minute. It was his right-footed chop that sent a corner kick from Jonathan dos Santos into the back of the net and past goalkeeper Daniel Vega.
It was only Feltscher’s second goal of his Galaxy career and the first of the 2019 season. But it would also be the Galaxy’s only shot on target for the night.
But with the Galaxy winning 1-0 at halftime, unquestionably points should have come for the home side.
“We talked during the half time because they closer to get something,” Schelotto said. “We never could stop them. I think we had a bad game today. Everything we talk during the week to do today we did that in the first 15 or 20 minutes and then the game was for San Jose.”
The middle of the Galaxy’s formation was outgunned and out-pressed.
Galaxy midfielder’s Joe Corona and Jonathan dos Santos were overrun and couldn’t handle the high pressure. And Efrain and Favio Alvarez were more likely to be found on milk cartons than in dangerous positions on the night.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was also missing for more substantial portions of the night, and that included both on the field and off the field as the Galaxy Captain left the locker room before reporters were let in.
And that continued with Bingham and dos Santos declining to speak after the game as well.
If there was any question about leadership from the Galaxy, both the captain and co-captain failing to answer for one of the worst performances of the year is certainly telling. And it’s something that can’t be easily explained from a veteran-heavy club.
San Jose scored twice in less than three minutes in the second half, and once the lead had been erased and flipped on its head, the Galaxy had no answers.
“I think during a game like that, you have to sometimes improvise and try and fix the problem,” Corona told CoG after the game. “And like you said, I thought we had a great start with a quick goal and the first 15-20 minutes we had the ball. But after that, the team didn’t play how we trained and it showed.”
The goals from Valeri Qazaishvili and Danny Hoesen knocked the Galaxy to the mat. There were no answers. There were only more questions.
And Schelotto seemed just as hungry for answers as he was confused as to why his team had played so poorly.
“But even at halftime, we are winning,” he said with a frustrated look on his face. “Even if we don’t deserve to win at halftime, we maybe tie the game — they deserve to tie the game. Even in that moment, we are winning, so hey, what’s happened? That is the question, I wonder why?
“But I need to figure it out. We need to review the video. Now is very soon for to analyze the game. I think we know what San Jose would do on the field today, and they do that,” Schelotto continued. “So, that is the point.”
The Galaxy will need to regroup quickly. They still hold the second-place spot in the Western Conference and are third in the Supporters’ Shield race. But with many games yet to be played this weekend, they’re soon to find themselves falling down those rankings.
The confidence hit this takes is another question. The Galaxy can’t afford to slip up against LAFC, and their schedule doesn’t get any easier after that.
Improvements must come rapidly.
“I think we know what happened today,” Schelotto explained. “And we started the game knowing what we had to do… I feel like we have everything in our hands today, after two minutes. We miss it. I get frustration for that. I think the team did not play well.
“We deserved to lose.”