LA Galaxy were played off the field on Wednesday night by a superior Portland Timbers. Plus, weird events cast doubt on Chicharito and Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s future.
It was just the latest in a string of poor performances for the LA Galaxy. And when fans think it can’t get any worse, the club sets another level of embarrassment.
This time, the Galaxy were dominated by the Portland Timbers at Providence Park in downtown Portland to a tune of 5-2. It was a night where the Timbers scored in the first six minutes and ended the half up 3-0 — scoring on their first three shots — and keeping the Galaxy without a shot on goal in the half. It was a nearly-complete performance from Portland and a total roll-over from a Galaxy team that needed to win on the night.
The energy required to take on a clinical team like the Timbers, on their home turf, just wasn’t there from the start. And any attempt Guillermo Barros Schelotto put forth to stem the inevitable lacked the desired effect.
Schelotto benched Sacha Kljestan and Sebastian Lletget for the start of this game and replaced them with Perry Kitchen and Carlos Harvey. A move he’d correct just after halftime.
But giving up the first goal within six minutes of the start of the game was the real death-blow for the Galaxy. Setup in a more defensive stance, Schelotto was expecting to grind out a result against the Timbers. That went out the window on Jaroslaw Niezgoda’s first of two goals, and the chase from behind, with a defensive setup, was never really on.
Niezgoda would score again in the 19th minute, and the Galaxy would concede again in the 30th minute when Diego Valeri would bury a penalty kick past Jonathan Klinsmann – the goal coming on a Nick DePuy handball in the box.
But coming out of halftime, the Galaxy would pull it together for about 15 minutes. Kljestan and Lletget would replace Harvey and Julian Araujo, and the Galaxy would score just 15 seconds into the restart of the game.
Cristian Pavon would get on the end of a Lletget pass that Yony Gonzalez misplayed. His shot went past goalkeeper Steve Clark, and for a little bit, there were signs of life from the Galaxy.
“We came in [at halftime], and we were all pretty upset,” defender Dan Steres said. “We gave up very easy goals in the first half. We knew how important this game was, and to give up those goals and be down 3-0 at halftime, we were pretty upset.
“So [Guillermo] came in firing us up, and we had the attitude that we’ve got to go out and show some pride. And I think we did that,” he continued. “Who knows what the game could have been if we didn’t give up that fourth goal and that killed our momentum.
“Until then, I think we showed we had something in us, even though we gave up those goals, and we were going to fight until the end and see what we were going to get out of it. Once again, we’re bleeding way too much.”
Pavon would get another chance in the 53rd minute that was blocked and then get another in the 58th minute that was saved by Clark. Lletget would get the last best chance for LA when his header was saved just one minute later on a ball that looked destined for the bottom corner.
But with all that momentum, the Galaxy would concede their fourth goal of the night to Eryk Williamson and watch Portland’s Andy Polo score a gorgeous looping shot from the extreme right side of the box for their fifth in the 74th minute.
Pavon would add a consolation goal in the first minute of stoppage time, but nothing would save the Galaxy on the night.
Schelotto did little to attempt to explain the loss in the post-game press conference. He brushed past the only question (asked by CoG) and then gave a short statement in English and Spanish before thanking everyone and leaving.
“I came here to say we have three games left,” he told the few reporters who had waited on him. “We have some possibilities; we need to win these three games and wait for all the results to get to playoffs.
“Talking about tonight, I think I am very disappointed with what we did in the first half, especially. We gave them a lot of advantage, and I prefer to think about [what’s ahead], just one week and three games. We need to win. We have some possibilities, and we need to go forward, and that’s it.
“I think there’s nothing more important than that to say tonight… Good night, thank you very much for understanding.”
This all comes on the heels of a halftime interview with General Manager Dennis te Kloese with ESPN during the broadcast. Te Kloese, speaking to Jon Champion on Taylor Twellman, te Kloese refused to directly answer the question on Schelotto’s future with the club and instead took the blame himself.
“I think it’s a challenging moment to discuss it right now,” he told ESPN. “And beyond even the manager position, the players, my decisions, my part is being… held responsible. And I think we have to take responsibility, and we have to evaluate the best we can.
“Obviously, after a very rough season so far. And I think it’s not the time to discuss anything on the manager position, on anybody within the organization, before we shift the gears and evaluate anything going forward.”
With Schelotto’s brief statement in English and Spanish, it’s clear; his job is on the line.
And, as if the Galaxy weren’t already reeling from their pitiful results, there’s been the added controversy of dealing with Javier Hernandez and his injury status.
Shortly after the plane departed from LAX on the way to Portland, Hernandez declared himself out for the match without the club’s highest-paid player. He’d been dealing with a hamstring injury sustained in training last week, so his inclusion was already questionable. But Chicharito removed all doubt with his Instagram post, stating that he’d be missing the match with an injury while wishing his teammates the best.
The Galaxy didn’t expect the post, and it’s clear it was done without the club’s knowledge. Adding to the mystery is the confusion on whether Chicharito has received the MRI mentioned after the Galaxy’s win over Vancouver on the weekend. It was supposedly scheduled for Monday, but neither the club nor Schelotto released any results or made any confirmation that the MRI took place.
Te Kloese, during his halftime interview, did kill rumors of the Galaxy’s interest in loaning Chicharito to CD Guadalajara in Liga MX.
“I think it’s been a very challenging year for everyone, and certainly Javier (Hernandez),” he said. “We obviously had him come in and with high, high expectations from him, from ourselves, from everybody, we haven’t been able to connect these high expectations, so far.
“And there is no truth to any rumors of him going to Chivas or anything else.”
It’s another interesting twist in what has become the biggest disappointment of all the disappointing things in 2020. Chicharito’s inability to integrate into the club and to show any meaningful progress this season seems to be leading to people losing their jobs. And while the Galaxy seem dedicated to the former Mexican International, that doesn’t seem to be reciprocated by Hernandez.
And if Schelotto is to get the ax, the Galaxy might want to remember what happened when David Beckham — the biggest of stars — got the coach he wanted for the club. Ruud Gullit entered with disastrous effect.
The Galaxy have three more games left in the 2020 season. And while they anchor the Western conference with just 18 points from 19 games, they haven’t technically been eliminated yet. But with games against Real Salt Lake, Seattle, and finally Vancouver on the docket, it seems absurd to think they have any chance at advancing to the postseason.