Williams sees red, leaving a 10-man LA Galaxy team to struggle in the second half as they fall to the Timbers.
The LA Galaxy were riding a two-game win streak as they traveled to Providence Park in Portland to take on a thin Timbers team with many players either out or returning from injury. However, no matter the current form of the team, trips to Portland are often complicated and this match was no different.
It was a tale of the two halves for the Galaxy as they were able to control possession early in the match, but were unable to make the final pass or play to convert in front of goal. Portland had their fair share of opportunities in the first half, but the Galaxy defense looked up to the task as a balanced game seemed to be unfolding.
The moment that flipped the match on its head came in the 44th minute when a horrific tackle from Derrick Williams earned him a red card. Williams mistimed his jump and ended up completing upending Portland’s Andy Polo after which referee Alan Kelley had no choice but to eject Williams from the match.
From that moment on, the Galaxy never looked right again. Portland went on to score early in the second half to put the Galaxy on their heels and then eventually put the game out of reach with their second and third goals as the Galaxy offense remained toothless.
The Cali Classico can’t come soon enough as the Galaxy will be hoping to put the memory of this match as far behind them as possible.
Let’s take a look at how the players fared on the afternoon.
Players are graded on a 5-star scale with no half star designations.
TOP OF THE CLASS
There is only one club in Major League Soccer that has conceded more goals than the LA Galaxy and that team is FC Cincinnati. Jonathan Bond leads the league in goals conceded (11), yet somehow has managed to often look like the Galaxy’s best player. The other side of the equation has Bond also leading the league in saves (28), which illustrates how crucial his play has been this season.
Bond came up huge in the first half with multiple saves, keeping the Galaxy alive despite Portland’s expected goals showing that they probably should have had a lead going into the half. Obviously, being down a man in the second half contributed to the Galaxy having a huge let down, but it’s hard to put much if any of that blame on Bond. Conversely, conceding three goals in a 22-minute span makes the rating look generous. However, his six saves indicate why he was arguably the Galaxy’s Man of the Match.
Similar to Bond, Julian Araujo is another player that is starting to show a reliable consistency that is almost to their own detriment. If Araujo doesn’t lock down opposing offenses, it almost seems surprising. While the Galaxy defense had plenty of struggles on the afternoon, Araujo was not one of them.
Araujo’s speed and strength were once again on display as he could be seen darting across the field to make tackles and break up plays. While he only had two tackles in the match, it was more a sign of Portland’s passing network generally coming from the opposite side of the field.
Kevin Cabral earned his first start for the LA Galaxy this season and was able to show some potential of what can be expected from him. The young Designated Player showed that he is not afraid to press forward and take on defenders himself to try and create goal-scoring opportunities. Oftentimes, he found himself with plenty of space to dribble in from the wing and either shoot or try to find another attacker in the box.
While the positives appear to outweigh the negatives, for now, Cabral still does not look to be one hundred percent in rhythm with his teammates yet. Additionally, the players around him will also need to adjust to Cabral’s style of play in order to maximize what he can bring to the table. A solid appearance from Cabral, but with plenty of room to be better.
Speaking of youngsters earning starts, Efrain Alvarez was once again called upon by Greg Vanney to play a pivotal role in the midfield alongside Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos. With Samuel Grandsir and Kevin Cabral occupying the wing, Alvarez found himself needing to be more of a distributor in this game than anything else.
During his 45 minutes on the field, Alvarez was unable to connect on key passes and was being out-hustled by the opposition as he only had 26 touches. Perhaps Alvarez was having issues on the turf, as he was sliding on occasion, but his lack of involvement, and mistakes when he was involved, likely led to his being sacrificed for a defensive substitution at the half.
Last season, Nick DePuy had a bit of a breakout season as he transitioned from a roster depth piece signed from LA Galaxy II into a consistent first-choice center back. This season, DePuy has not taken advantage of his opportunities to look to fight his way back into the starting lineup.
I will recognize that it was a tall order to be subbed in at the half after another center back earned a red card, but DePuy’s positioning made it just a little too easy for Portland to pounce on the already wounded LA Galaxy defense.
We will see if DePuy can return to the early form of 2020 and find his chemistry with Dan Steres as he will likely be given a chance to earn at least one more start thanks to the Williams suspension.
I think it will surprise absolutely nobody to see Derrick Williams at the bottom of this week’s player grades after an ugly tackle that saw him sent off. The sad reality of the moment is that Williams was not playing poorly for the 43 minutes prior to his foul play. He looked comfortable in defense and with the ball at his feet and the Galaxy often began buildup play out of the back.
Much of the discourse after the match was about the severity of the punishment that should follow given the apparent injury it causes to the opposing player. After re-watching the play, it appeared that Williams was attempting to play the ball and did not enter the tackle with malice. However, there was no question that the tackle was woefully mistimed, and the trajectory and pace in which Williams was traveling led to a grisly collision. I would imagine that extra games will be tacked on to the red card suspension, but the overreaction to the tackle may sway the league to make an example of Williams who has not played enough games in the league to earn any goodwill.
At the end of the day, when you earn a red card that leaves your team at a disadvantage for 45 minutes you effectively cost the team points.
Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.