The Galaxy appear to have 99 problems and a pitch was one — the disappointing outcome still led to a couple of notable performances.
The LA Galaxy completed their slide to the bottom of the Western Conference as they lost 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Earthquakes Stadium on Saturday night.
They got off to a hot start in the first half when Sebastian Lletget scored in the fourth minute and, just ten minutes later, David Bingham saved a Chris Wondolowski penalty after Nick DePuy was struck in the hand with the ball in the box.
From that point forward, the Earthquakes dominated possession for the rest of the game and eventually earned their rewards in the form of a Marcos Lopez rocket and a second awarded penalty in the 82nd minute to seal the Galaxy’s fate.
Once again, the Galaxy literally struggled to find their footing on a soggy pitch as they did when they traveled to San Jose on September 13th. However, this was no excuse as the Galaxy offense struggled and only managed one shot on target.
The Galaxy now sit in 12th-place out of 12 teams in the Western Conference and the upcoming, unforgiving, schedule won’t make things any easier.
Let’s take a look at how the players fared on the night:
TOP OF THE CLASS
The paradox of David Bingham continued in this game. When Bingham has a big game, it usually means that the Galaxy defense was not good enough and he is forced to make saves in order to keep them in it.
Bingham’s highlight of the night came in the 14th minute where he guessed correctly on a Chris Wondolowski penalty and pushed the ball wide of the goal. Initially, the penalty was to be retaken, but upon review, Bingham did well to keep his back foot on the goal line by just enough to make the save valid.
Outside of the penalty save, Bingham had four saves on the evening to the Earthquakes five shots on target. The Lopez goal from the run of play would have been difficult for even the league’s best goalkeepers to stop and the second penalty was well taken by Andres Rios.
Bingham still had his one moment of madness in the game, but ultimately it was clear that the Galaxy defensive lapses and offensive lack of production were the cause for the loss in San Jose.
Sebastian Lletget is currently the most in-form Galaxy player. He added his sixth goal of the campaign which now brings him even with Cristian Pavon for the team lead in goals scored.
Lletget was pushed out wide in favor of Jonathan Dos Santos in the Central Attacking Midfield position, but he still found himself drifting to his comfort zone in the middle of the field.
Perhaps the position change was part of the problem for the Galaxy as Lletget had only 32 touches, which is low when you look at his previous match statistics. If Lletget is the most in-form player on the team, they need to do a better job of involving him in the run of play.
Perry Kitchen returned to the starting lineup alongside Joe Corona to in the hope of recapturing some of the success that the team had when he was playing in the faux stopper role.
Similar to Lletget, Kitchen was limited in his touches throughout the match, but was able to maintain an 88% pass success rate. Additionally, he was effective with his physical play and tackles which often disrupted San Jose as they tried to build up their attack.
This match marked Kitchen’s 200th MLS start and his veteran presence will be needed as he will likely be part of a rotating squad with games coming every four days over the next couple weeks.
Joe Corona only played 66 minutes but showed what his value can be to the team with his scrappy play in the midfield. He combined with Kitchen in making tackles and winning duels to neutralize the San Jose attack.
Since the Galaxy were wildly out possessed, they relied on Corona’s ability to recover defensively. When Corona was subbed off, they lost that crucial part of the team defense which led to a further imbalance in possession in the Earthquakes favor.
Jonathan Dos Santos has struggled to dominate a game in 2020 like he has in previous seasons with the Galaxy. Since returning from injury, Dos Santos has failed to land himself on the positive side of the stat sheet.
While it may be somewhat expected to see Dos Santos absent from the goals and assists column — that isn’t necessarily how the strengths in his game are measured — it is somewhat shocking to see Dos Santos be the player who is losing duels and being dispossessed with ease.
Now that Dos Santos has been starting in a string of games, in addition to being called up by the Mexican National Team, the criticism is going to start adding up if he appears to be fully healthy and does not produce at a designated player level.
However, judging by how Dos Santos is playing, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he may be playing hurt in order not to let his team down. Perhaps it might be best for him to take some time to fully heal so he can contribute more successfully.
It may be a little harsh to place Efrain Alvarez in the Needs Improvement column after only playing 24 minutes, but unfortunately, there was a drop off from what he brought to this game when it was tied 1-1 than what Joe Corona was able to do.
Alvarez is expected to bring a spark into the attack when he comes onto the field in a substitute role, but whether it’s lack of chemistry or support, he doesn’t appear to have game-changing ability. Also, perhaps expectations are too high if the team is relying on the 18-year-old to be the game-changer.
Rolf Feltscher had a busy night in San Jose. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t the good type of busy as San Jose seem to target his side of the defense to develop their chances.
Feltchers could be given some of the blame for both of the conceded goals. While the first goal was hit with incredible force, Feltscher could have done better to mark the player and failed to step in front of him before the shot was taken.
Secondly, Feltcher put himself in a bad situation as he wiped out Shea Salinas inside the penalty box which forced referee Robert Sibiga to make an easy decision on calling a penalty. Feltscher did appear to slip on the turf, which was an issue all night, but the situational awareness and kick out of the leg made for a sloppy play from the Venezuelan international.
Feltscher may not have been a world class player during his tenure with the Galaxy, but perhaps the emergence and success of Julian Araujo has led to a bit of a regression from Feltscher.
After being offically announced on August 19th, Yony Gonzalez finally made his Galaxy debut against San Jose when he was subbed on in the 72nd minute.
It’s hard to fully assess Gonzalez with his play, but he looked like he is going to be able to contribute to this team moving forward. He was able to draw a foul and win a few duels which highlights the technical skill and physicality that was on the scouting report before he arrived.
With the possibility of some international absences, I think Gonzalez will find himself in the starting lineup sooner than later and we will get a better look at what he brings to the table.
Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.