Orange County, CA — The LA Galaxy got two goals from Ola Kamara but fell to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon, 4-2 at the Great Park in Orange County.
The 5,000 seat stadium, located at the former El Toro Marine Base, sold out, with a mostly pro-galaxy flair, underneath blue hazy skies and warm temps. But the Galaxy never seemed to warm up themselves.
On the day, the Galaxy were strong with possession, dangerous with attacks, but lacked a quality finish or two despite the fireworks from Kamara.
And the defense was to blame for most of the mishaps at the back. With a pass from Giovani dos Santos forcing a mistake by goalkeeper David Bingham for one such attack.
Galaxy Head Coach Sigi Schmid started the first-team lineup with several players going 90-minutes for the first time in the preseason — David Bingham, Danie Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik, Ashley Cole, Romain Alessandrini, and Ola Kamara. And if fitness is the gauge of success in the preseason, then the day should be considered a success. But the result will sting.
Perry Kitchen showed well in the middle of the field, breaking up counterattacks and distributing out of th back. But of all the games this preseason, the Galaxy are 2-2 now, he was at his quietest.
Midfielder Romain Alessandrini was dangerous on the right wing, and his opposite, Emmanuel Boateng was involved on many attacks. But when crosses came from either side, they usually lacked a finisher.
Alessandrini lofted four attempts towards goal with three forcing a save. But the bounce of the ball didn’t favor him on the day.
Schmid seemed most concerned with the defense.
“Defensively I wasn’t happy. I thought we were too soft and we gave away too much space. And that can’t happen,” Schmid told reporters after the game. “And the old bug-a-boo from last year, when we give up one goal we give up another goal right after that. And that has to be better. We have to make sure we’re stronger mentally in those situations.”
Galaxy Captain Ashley Cole was also disappointed in the defensive effort from the team.
“I think, just maybe, as a whole team defending -you know we have great players going forward – and I feel we have to be more of a unit when we defend,” Cole confessed. “More together. More compact. Because we seem like always last season we get a bit stretched at the end.”
Daniel Steres had a rough night, Rolf Feltscher seemed to run his legs away, and in all, the entire defense looked ill-prepared for the start of the season.
If Galaxy fans were hoping for a much-improved side on defense, their are still remnants of last years mental collapses.
Chris Wondolowski punished the Galaxy and Bingham let it slip through his hands on the Earthquakes first goal, and Tommy Thompson scored one of his two goals on the night from a deflection. And it was Fatai Alashe and Thompson who scored just one-minute apart. All familiar lapses for fans of last years Galaxy defense.
If the 2018 Galaxy are to exorcise the deamons of the 2017 season, this game reminded them it was going to be hard to give up that ghost. But this team is already a more cohoesive unit. And for that, there should be optimism.
The Galaxy will play in a closed-door scrimmage on Wednesday agianst the Vancouver Whitecaps, before hosting the Whitecaps again next Saturday in the last preseason game of the offseason.
With just 15-days left before the MLS season starts, things need to come together during this last week. Any faults or stumbles from here on out will have an effect on the season.
Their confidence is high, but the final product isn’t quite there yet.