Steve Carrillo

LA Galaxy fall to Houston Dynamo in an entirely predictable way

The LA Galaxy have a growing, and repeatable, problem on their hands. They can’t stop chasing the game. And that was no different in their 3-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night in the first of a three-game road trip.

The Galaxy (3-5-1) got goals from Ola Kamara and Giovani dos Santos on the night, with Giovani dos Santos also picking up an assist. And if that sounds familiar, those were the two goal scorers last week in a repeat score against the New York Red Bulls at StubHub Center.

But the club’s penchant for allowing early goals, in both games, is really something that has to be solved by the men in blue, white, and gold.

Against the Dynamo (3-3-2) the Galaxy allowed goals early into both halves to ensure they were playing from behind for the majority of the match. In fact, the Galaxy played only 15 total minutes with the score tied. The other 75-minutes they were down a goal.

In just the second minute, a foul by Sebastian Lletget some 25-yards from goal allowed a set piece chance that was converted by Alejandro Fuenmayor. Although the goal was originally flagged for offside, VAR overturned the call and awarded the lead to the Dynamo.

The Galaxy would answer back just before halftime when striker Ola Kamara — who had been playing on the left wing — stole the ball from Dynamo’s Darwin Cerén in the middle of the field. Kamara then sprinted forward along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Giovani dos Santos. Kamara passed to his left to find Ibrahimovic whose one-time shot forced a save from Dynamo ‘keeper Joe Willis. Willis couldn’t push the ball very far as Giovani dos Santos, trailing the play ever so slightly on the right-hand side, knocked in the rebound.

That goal, his second in two games, knotted the score at one goal apiece in the 39-minute.

But the stalemate wouldn’t last for long. Coming out of the halftime break, the Galaxy conceded another early goal — which makes seven goals conceded in the first 15-minutes of either half this season.

Defender Michael Ciani, trying to slow a mild breakaway from the Dynamo committed a foul on the left-hand side of the field, just outside the box.

Romell Quioto stepped up to take it for the Dynamo and hit a low shot into a mass of traffic in front of the net. That ball bounced off of Sebastian Lletget and into the back of the goal in the 47-minute of the match to give the Dynamo the lead back.

The Galaxy, over the next 38 minutes would find a majority of the possession but almost none of the dangerous chances. Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid had lined the club up in an identical formation as the loss to the Red Bulls and was probably relying on the familiarity of the players to start kicking in.

Instead, what transpired was 37 minutes of uninspiring soccer that saw sideways passes, bad giveaways, and almost no creativity. Forwards were found standing around waiting to receive the ball, while midfielders Perry Kitchen, Sebastian Lletget, and eventually Jonathan dos Santos failed to pressure the Dynamo down the center of the field.

Predictably trying to play up the wings found the Dynamo compact on defense and content to ride out the 1-goal victory.

But not all went to plan.

Dynamo midfielder Cerén was once again victimized as Giovani dos Santos stole the ball and deflected it to Ibrahimovic. In a stunning karate kick, Ibrahimovic’s pass led Giovani dos Santos down the left-hand side of the field. Streaking from midfield he found the ball, looked up and found a darting Kamara for the perfect deflected finish to the back post.

The Galaxy had leveled the score with just five minutes remaining and looked to have secured the draw.

The Dynamo, however, found a way to score again. This time sending a cross towards Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham that was deflected by the head of Jorgen Skjelvik. Skjelvik’s deflection found the Dynamo strikers boot that launched off the crossbar and fell to the head of Memo Rodríguez who headed it into the back of the goal in the 90-minute.

The Galaxy’s defense, the brunt of much criticism, had folded under continued pressure time and time again. Ciani and Skjelvik, two high-dollar signings, were at the center of many breakdowns in this game and the previous match. Add in the miscommunication with Bingham in the 90-minute and all it shows is how much still needs to be addressed by the coaching staff.

While right-back Dave Romney and left-back Ashley Cole were serviceable on the night, Ciani and Skjelvik were anything but. With both lacking pace, and the ability to anticipate where crosses will come in, they allowed too much room, and too much time for the Dynamo and either caused poor set-pieces or failed to defend properly on those set-pieces.

On the night, the Galaxy lacked creativity throughout the midfield and got poor performances from Romain Alessandrini, Kitchen, and Lletget.

The Galaxy midfield did spring back to life when Jonathan dos Santos entered the game in the 64-minute. But even he wasn’t the answer they needed in the giant hole in the middle of the field.

Questions will continue to be asked about Schmid’s job security following this loss and the continued losses. With the Galaxy having lost four out of their last five games and three-in-a-row after this loss to the Dynamo.

This puts the 2018 Galaxy just two points ahead of the 2017 club through the same number of games.

The Galaxy looked tactically naive – forcing players into positions that aren’t their strengths – and devoid of any reasonable game-plan. Changes to the starting lineup may be coming with particular attention focused on the center of midfield and the defense.

With the Galaxy’s first-round draft pick, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, getting starts with Galaxy II, Schmid may look in his direction to bring some needed new blood to the center-back position. A position that has seen no clear standouts in the first nine games.

The Galaxy will re-group as they head back to Los Angeles for training in the upcoming week before returning to Texas where they’ll face off against FC Dallas next Saturday (May 12 – 12:30 PM PT – Unimas).