The LA Galaxy (3-5-2, 11 pts), with Romain Alessandrini in the spotlight, capped off game one of a four-game road trip with a 3-1 victory over the, previously unbeaten at home, New York Red Bulls (5-6-1, 16 pts). Behind an Alessandrini first-half brace – goals in the 8th and 9th minute – they glided to a 3-1 victory and earned their first win on the east coast since a May 15, 2013, victory over the Philadelphia Union.
The Galaxy, playing without the injured Jermaine Jones (Grade II MCL Sprain), started most of the same players that were successful in the second half against the Chicago Fire. The main difference being the return of captain, Jelle Van Damme, who was pulled in the first-half of last week’s game by head coach, Curt Onalfo. Van Damme gave his best performance of the year and lead the Galaxy’s defense, only allowing one Red Bulls goal – a consolation prize deep into second-half stoppage.
“We did well. We talked a lot and the communication was good,” said Van Damme after the game. “But you know what, defense is eleven players. That’s all I want to say about it. Today was all about the team so I’m very proud. The guys came in and did their jobs.”
The only black mark against a stellar defensive effort was Bradley Diallo’s second yellow card, which was picked up in the 90th minute of a game that was already decided. Diallo, making just his third career start, made several rash challenges, and could’ve used some protecting from Onalfo. Instead, the young defender will miss the Galaxy’s next road game against Minnesota United on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
“I mean, certainly the best start we’ve had all year. I thought our mentality was good. It’s tough traveling across the country with everything you deal with, and to be able to put — have that kind of energy to start and just capitalize on the chances. We knew we had good chances and it was about finishing them, and that just positioned — very pleased with the performance and obviously a good result.” Curt Onalfo, Head Coach, LA Galaxy
But on the other side of things, Diallo is playing a position that is under constant attack. Rafael Garcia and Nathan Smith know exactly how difficult playing right back is for the Galaxy. Teams know that it’s a weakness of the Galaxy and that Alessandrini likes to get forward. This leaves any right back defender exposed and attacked on a constant and revolving basis.
On the offensive side, several players, including Giovani dos Santos, Boateng, and Alessandrini, were dangerous throughout the game. And counter attacks against the Red Bulls, who liked to get numbers forward on attacks, were successful and dangerous on multiple occasions. But again, it was Alessandrini who seemed to be sharp from the first minute, that got this Galaxy team out in front.
“I try every time to give my best. Tonight was key, I scored twice and I helped my team to win,” Alessandrini told reporters after the game.
“I was a little bit surprised because it’s a big change and I’m very happy because I now have 6 goals and 3 assists, but for my team, we need to keep this mentality. Everybody was on the same page…and everyone in the attack can score.”
For Alessandrini, this was his fifth and sixth goal of the season. He’s also added three assists and was the player who drew the penalty kick that saw Giovani dos Santos convert the chance in the 78th minute.
Offensively the Galaxy was decisive, quick, and they punished the Red Bulls for almost every chance they got. But not all is perfect on that side of the ball. The team is without a goal from a striker during the run of play. And while Dos Santos has three goals, two of those were from penalty kicks – neither were created by him – and one was off a corner kick.
Gyasi Zardes, now playing in his fifth game of the season (four starts), has only registered two shots on goal in his 371 minutes in 2017. Jack McBean, Jack McInerney, and anyone else the Galaxy has put in the loan striker position have failed to make any significant contribution to the attack. Leading to question whether the offense is struggling because of the strikers or if the strikers are struggling because of the offense.
Regardless, at the start of this road trip, many Galaxy fans wouldn’t have put much hope into this team escaping with more than a single point. But by beating the Red Bulls on the road – a feat they haven’t accomplished in the regular season since 2010 – they’ve now positioned themselves to attack MUFC and possibly climb up the standings.
And for Onalfo, the ever-present pressure that sits just over his shoulder will take another week off… for now.
The Galaxy will continue their time away from StubHub Center with games against the aforementioned expansion side from Minnesota, as well as the San Jose Earthquakes, and DC United. They’ll finally return home to face the Houston Dynamo on June 17, 2017.
LA – Romain Alessandrini 8’
LA – Romain Alessandrini 9’ (Assisted by Giovani dos Santos)
LA – Giovani dos Santos 78’ (penalty)
NY – Daniel Royer 90+3’ (Assisted by Kemar Lawrence, Sacha Kljestan)