Carson, CA — You’d be forgiven if you looked at the scoreline and concluded the LA Galaxy were outplayed by the best team in the Western Conference. And Sporting KC (4-1-1) certainly deserve a lion’s share of the credit when it comes to their 2-0 victory at StubHub on Sunday evening. But the stats and the play on the field tell a different story – a story the Galaxy will be more than frustrated to relive this week in the film room.
The Galaxy (2-2-1) outshot Sporting 22 to 13 on the night with 10 of their shots testing goalkeeper Tim Melia. And unfortunately for them, not a single ball found the back of the net. Additionally, three shots pinged off the woodwork, leaving the Galaxy just inches from finding a goal and turning this into a different game altogether.
SKC – Dániel Sallói 57’
SKC – Johnny Russell (Assisted by Roger Espinoza) 61’
The offense got Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan dos Santos back on the field for the first time in multiple games after both have recovered from a hamstring injury. This was a welcome sight as both designated players have been missing from the Galaxy’s recent success. But while dos Santos had a good 90-minutes and created some chances, Alessandrini struggled to find his touch even as he launched three shots on target without much luck.
“I think we deserved a goal,” Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters in his post-game press conference. “For sure I think we did enough to deserve a goal if not two.”
For the Galaxy, who were attempting to put their exhilarating 4-3 win over LAFC behind them, and also right some wrongs that found last weeks team down 3-0 early in the second half, they did better. They came out with more intensity from the minute the whistle was blown and quickly pressed Sporting in their defensive third. And from that pressure, the Galaxy were able to create multiple chances in the first half.
Chris Pontius hit the post in the 36-minute off a header that kissed the outside of the frame while Ola Kamara and Ashley Cole hit the target in the 41′, and 43′ minute.
Kamara created six chances on the night for the Galaxy but seemed to never quite be open for the big goal scoring opportunity.
Cole’s shot, a ripped left-footed ball that was curling towards the far lower corner of the net, grazed by Melia’s fingertips, just barely tipping the ball out of the goal and pinging it off the post.
A scoreless halftime, while rightfully the correct scoreline, seemed a little harsh to a Galaxy team that had made good on the poor first half performance a week earlier. But with a second half that would eventually see Zlatan Ibrahimovic off the bench, it was expected they’d come out with some determination.
Instead, all the pressing the Galaxy did in the first 45-minutes took its toll on the team. The intensity wained, and the passing fell apart. And the club started to cede possession to Sporting who were more than happy to begin to better their 1 shot on goal from the first half.
A corner kick, that was created when Galaxy ‘keeper David Bingham had to scramble to put a free kick over the bar on the far post, allowed forward Daniel Salloi to come up with the ball after a botched header from Kamara. The glancing header fell to the feet of Salloi who was able to float free from Galaxy midfielder Perry Kitchen and fire it past Bingham who looked surprised by the line.
Then, just five minutes later, with Ibrahimovic warming up on the sidelines, Cole and Daniel Steres were the victims of their own poor defense as Sporting’s Johnny Russell ran between the two defenders to poke it past Bingham for the second score of the night.
“We keep conceding kind of easy goals,” Cole confessed after the game. “It’s not just the defense you have to blame. I think we have to look as a team to see the reasons why they are counterattacking every time. It’s a tough loss to take today, but credit to them. They are a very good team.”
Ibrahimovic would once again stoke the fires of the Galaxy’s offense when he entered the game in the 62-minute. But there were no heroics to be found this time out, despite him hitting the target three times in five shots.
“The output was that we lost the game,” Ibrahimovic told reporters. “It doesn’t matter if you hit the post. If you don’t score you don’t win.
“I think they wanted it more than us. Losing 2-0 at home is not good. Of course it’s not good. Last game we were losing 3-0 at home so we need to focus more from the beginning and be more stable in our game. We need to be more hungry from the beginning.”
There are plenty of positives to build on in the loss. And this game was a real improvement from the chaotic but exciting game last weekend. But the Galaxy need to start finding answers at the back and quickly. And personal accountability is going to be tops on the list of improvements.
“I can’t help everyone every time,” Cole said referring to the same speech he gave last year. “They are playing for LA Galaxy. Everyone has to be good enough. I don’t need to hold anyone’s hand. Everyone has to be accountable for their actions. As a captain, I can try and motivate them and show them the videos and show them what we have to do more of defensively. But in the games, things happen quick.”
The Galaxy will travel to face the Chicago Fire next weekend (April 14, 12:30 PM – Univision) before returning to StubHub Center to face off against Atlanta United on Saturday, April 21 (7:30 PM – SpectrumSN, Spectrum Deportes).