The losing streak continues, the failures are compounding, and Guillermo Barros Schelotto doesn’t seem to have any answers for the LA Galaxy.
CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy can’t stop losing. And to be fair, they never threatened the visiting San Jose Earthquakes in their 4-0 loss on Wednesday night as they added another game to their now six-game losing streak.
The bottom dwellers in the Western Conference, the Galaxy, couldn’t improve their standing and, with just seven games left in the regular season, they have almost no time to fix their problems — not that there’s any indication they know what’s wrong.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto rolled out a different looking lineup that in previous games. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez returned to the starting lineup after his daughter’s birth last week and was joined by Yony González, who made his first MLS start in a 4-4-2 formation.
Schelotto also replaced goalkeeper David Bingham — who had started and played every minute of every game this season — with his backup, newly acquired Jonathan Klinsmann. The move made little difference on the night, but Klinsmann did nothing to hurt his chances of getting another runout despite the lopsided score.
The Galaxy struggled from the first kick. The Earthquakes exploited space in front of midfielders Sacha Kljestian and Perry Kitchen and created running-room down the middle of the park. Sebastian Lletget, along with Cristian Pavon, was more connected with Hernandez and González than their midfielders. And the entire field opened to San Jose attacks through the middle.
Schelotto noticed the same problem and switched the formation back to a lone striker. The 4-4-2 was dead in a matter of 25 minutes — its result, a failure.
The Galaxy responded to the more familiar formation and rallied some more possession and a couple of good looks. But they couldn’t put a shot on goal in the first half and would concede just before halftime on a broken play after a poor clearance from Klinsmann.
The ball, a lobbed cross towards the back post, was almost cut out as Kitchen tracked back on defense with defender Julian Araujo up the field. San Jose’s Andrés Rios was able to cut the ball back to the center of the box, where Nick Lima would score his first goal of two on the night. The 44th-minute strike was finished strongly past multiple Galaxy defenders who were all in emergency defending mode during the entire play.
But it was the most blatant example of the Earthquakes wanting the ball more. They fought harder, tackled harder, and seemed in control of their game as they moved the Galaxy side to side throughout the night.
It was the breakthrough the ‘Quakes needed. They’d stem another swell of Galaxy confidence coming out of halftime with a 52nd-minute goal from Ríos and add a Tommy Thompson goal in the 76th-minute and the second Lima goal in stoppage time to round out the scoring.
But the second goal forced a move by Schelotto. And that was to substitute Chicharito off the field in the 54th-minute. When questioned about the move and asked whether there was any injury to Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer Schelotto said, “No. Those were my decisions.”
With Herandez on the bench, González was placed at the top of the formation. That did eventually open up some space for the Galaxy’s first shot on goal in the 57th-minute. A hustle move from Pavon that would see him cut across the top of the box and fire a shot that was both deflected and saved. And González would get a shot of his own in the 73rd minute.
But the Galaxy would still be outshot 19 to eight in total and 10 to three on target during the match. Klinsmann was forced into seven saves in his MLS debut.
And for Schelotto, there doesn’t seem to be an answer for a losing streak that is the club’s worst since 2007 and just one win away from tying their all-time losing streak of seven that took place in 2006.
The entire team looked lost for large periods of time. And the players greeted each other as strangers.
And the worst part is they’re failing. They’re failing at playing simple, creative soccer, and the Galaxy don’t have a plan for getting out of their current death spiral.
“We just seemed all over the place by the end of that game,” Galaxy captain Dan Steres told reporters after the loss. “We’re still trying to push, I don’t think we’re quitting, we’re just pushing, and we’re running one at a time and getting picked apart, and by the end of it, that’s what happened.”
The Galaxy have been outscored 19 to five during the losing streak and were shutout three times during the stretch.
And despite the lack of offense and the lopsided scores of late, Schelotto doesn’t believe there was any quit in the team — a charge he leveled at the club after their performance in Orlando earlier in the season.
“No,” he said. “More than giving up today, it was frustration. Because they managed the ball since the first moment, and we couldn’t figure out putting Yony [Gonzalez] wide. But in the last possibility for them to score, they scored in the first half, and they came out in the second half with more confidence, and in that moment, I think we weren’t able to get any options to score.
“And that caused frustration. Every time, as the minutes passed, we got frustrated, and you see us, [Cristian] Pavon, trying but he couldn’t do too much. Today is the worst frustration. Our mood was down the second half, a little different, but even then, I think it’s not good for me as a coach to see that.”
There are no simple solutions as the pressure of returning the five-time MLS Cup Champions to power in MLS falls even heavier onto Schelotto’s shoulders. Without a playoff berth in sight, and with the regression from last season’s postseason run, the second-year manager could find himself out of a job.
The voices are only going to get louder, and the pressure even higher for Schelotto. Even the television broadcast couldn’t quite believe what they saw with the ineptitude of the Galaxy.
The longtime voice of the Galaxy and the play-by-play announcer for Spectrum SportsNet, Joe Tutino, said it bluntly, but not surprisingly for those that have been paying attention – “This is not living up to the badge.”