The LA Galaxy are looking for a patient performance against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night. And for Javier Hernandez to be involved in the game.
The LA Galaxy have lost two consecutive games, haven’t scored a goal in 277 minutes and play none other than the defending MLS champion Seattle Sounders on Sunday 7:30 p.m. at Dignity Health Sports Park (Spectrum SportsNet).
Despite what appears to be an ominous outlook, Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said this was no time to panic.
“We need to be smart,” he told reporters. “We know one game would get us three points and in good position. We need to keep working, get some points every game and try to win. We need to be calm in bad moments and calm even in good moments, like when we beat LAFC or whoever.
“The word is calm … we need to beat Seattle and work on what we do every day during the week.”
The Galaxy had been riding a six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2) before a three-game slide that included a scoreless draw in San Jose and back-to-back, 2-0 losses to Colorado and Real Salt Lake. The latter defeat featured an offense that was credited with only one shot on goal (by right back Rolf Feltscher) and another uninspired performance from striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who went 80 minutes in his longest stint since returning from a strained right calf suffered in July’s MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla.
Critics lately have been having a field day with Mexico’s all-time leading scorer who has one goal since joining the club in late January, but Schelotto and midfielder Jonathan dos Santos aren’t worried about Hernandez’s generally ineffective play.
Schelotto might as well have been also talking about Hernandez when he stressed for team followers to remain calm despite the team’s sudden fall to tenth place in the Western Conference.
“He’s coming back from injury and sometimes that’s not very easy,” Schelotto said of Hernandez. “We have confidence in him, that he will be a very important part of the team. We need to be quiet and be smart and wait for the moment.
“We don’t need to get frustrated.”
Dos Santos, Hernandez’s teammate on the Mexican national team, echoed those sentiments.
“He hasn’t played a lot of games, but we know he can be a very important player,” said dos Santos, who has returned from sports hernia surgery and played a season-high 73 minutes in the loss to Real Salt Lake. “We know he will score goals, but we need to have patience with him.
“He’s just recovering from his injury … he was out for two, three months. He’s happy being here, he’s in shape. We just have to be patient with him because I know he’s going to be the most important player for us.”
The Galaxy (4-5-3, 15 points) definitely will need better play from Hernandez, among others, against Seattle (6-3-3, 21 points, tied with Portland for first in the West) on Sunday. The Sounders, led by Raul Ruidiaz’s eight goals and six from Jordan Morris, are coming off a 1-0 loss to Portland on Wednesday, a defeat which was the first time Seattle had been shut out in the last 10 matches.
But Ruidiaz, who was suspended and fined by the MLS Disciplinary Committee in the previous game, will not be on the field for Seattle this weekend.
The Galaxy actually have had the better of play — but only by the slimmest of margins — against the Sounders at Dignity Health Sports Park. Since the 2014 season they are 3-2-3 against their conference rival at home and have outscored the Sounders 13-12.
Sunday not only will mark the return of Julian Araujo from a one-game suspension but could feature the long-awaited debut of Yony Gonzalez, who was to train with the team on Saturday. Schelotto said the availability of Gonzalez, who was acquired on loan from Portugal’s SL Benfica in August, will be a game-time decision, but he admitted he can’t wait to get the talented Columbian winger on the field.
“I talked with him, but I don’t know if he is ready to play or not,” Schelotto said. “I know who he is and what he can give us on the field. I’m excited to watch him play, but we need to be smart and use him when he’s ready.”