A new record when it comes to allowing goals, the LA Galaxy are in danger of letting this abbreviated season run away from them.
CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy’s best offensive production in weeks came at the expense of an awful defensive performance. The Galaxy allowed six goals on Wednesday night in a 6-3 loss to the Portland Timbers to extend their five-game losing streak.
And anchored in the last spot in the Western Conference with just four wins to their names, it was hardly a loss the Galaxy could afford at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Playing without Jonathan dos Santos and Rolf Feltscher, who were both away on International duty (Mexico and Venezuela respectively), and without their most expensive player — Javier “Chicharito Hernandez, who was away after his wife gave birth to a little girl on Monday — the Galaxy entrusted a start to 18-year-old Efrain Alvarez and returned 19-year-old Julian Araujo to the lineup. They also installed midfielder Sasha Kljestan for the injured Joe Corona (lower leg injury).
The result was a midfield that couldn’t stay connected with the defense, and a right-wing that was devoid of much activity. Sebastian Lletget, who got the start out wide, spent most of his time in the interior of the field ghosting runs in front of starting forward Ethan Zubak.
It was a confused formation, and it presented a distinct lack of defense from the midfield, outside of Perry Kitchen. And the resulting movement pulled at the Galaxy’s middle until Portland just busted through the seems.
“I saw that we got punished by a good team,” Klestan told reporters after the loss. “Portland is obviously very good. They finished a lot of their chances today. They have a good team; if you give up bad balls or don’t defend well at the top of your box, then good teams will punish you.”
The Galaxy would outshoot the Timbers 17 to 10, and when you consider that six of Portland’s ten shots ended up in the back of the net and that the Galaxy were only forced into making one save, Kljestan might be onto something.
The first goal came in the 14th minute off a throw-in from the Timbers. Yimmi Chará passed the ball into the box for Diego Chará, who found Felipe Mora at the top of the six-yard box for an easy finish.
Nine minutes later, after a very questionable call from referee Ramy Touchan that penalized defender Nick DePuy for handball he had little knowledge of, Jeremy Ebobisse launched the free-kick into the back of the net and past goalkeeper David Bingham. Bingham should be faulted for the goal, even if it was a laser of a set-piece. The ball, clipped in at pace, glanced off his hands, beating the goalkeeper to his side of the net.
The lone bright spot for the Galaxy would strike next. Araujo would take a rebound in the 34th minute and hit a low burner to the far post and past Goalkeeper Steve Clark, keeping the Galaxy within one goal.
And despite being outplayed for most of the first half, the Galaxy were still in the game.
“When you are losing, you lose confidence,” Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto explained. “But the team kept its shape, always trying.”
That feeling ended quickly, however.
Diego Valeri would chip Bingham from a ridiculous angle in the 47th minute to widen the gap to two goals once again. It was an audacious attempt that showed almost no room for the shot. Bingham could do no more than try to swing at it as it looped over his head and over the goal line.
But forward Ethan Zubak, who was used mostly as a wall to knock passes off for long stretches of this game, and who, more often than not, was playing underneath Lletget, scored a header in the 55th minute — it was his second goal of the season.
The Galaxy clawed their way back into the game each time, but the Timbers wouldn’t let up.
Mora and Ebobisse each scored again, split by a goal from the Galaxy’s Cristian Pavon, and the Galaxy fell, for the fifth straight game — now winless in six games — to the Timbers.
“We got some options,” Said Schelotto. “We got the 2-1 and we almost got the 2-2. Then we start to play the game, the real game. But again, in the second half, the few possibilities they had they put the third goal.”
The slide should have the Galaxy very concerned. They’ve been outscored 15 to five in those five games, and their three goals is the most they’ve scored since a 3-0 win over LAFC at the beginning of September.
The Galaxy also set a new franchise record when they allowed six goals for the second time this season. No other season in the club’s history had more than one regular-season game with an opponent hanging six on the Galaxy. In fact, the Galaxy have allowed six goals just three times previously in their 25-year history, doing it once in 2009, 2017, and 2018.
But with stats that show the historic nature of the Galaxy’s losses, it’s tough to juxtaposition those results with the club’s four-game winning streak earlier in the year.
“This one felt a little different,” Galaxy defender Dan Steres responded when asked about what mistakes the team has made throughout the losing streak. “This one was mistakes by us.
“We gave them the first – I don’t even know what was – first six shots that they had. They scored five of those on easy mistakes… So that’s on us.
“But the game overall, I don’t think it was a bad game. I think we locked some of those mistakes up. We actually played well and created a lot of stuff. We were organized defensively until those last-minute or last-second plays.
“So yeah, I’m taking full fall on this one, there’s were way too many mistakes from us on the back, and they were efficient.”