Steve Carrillo

LA Galaxy saved by Alessandrini in Victory over San Jose

Carson, CA — The LA Galaxy won their second straight game after a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night in front of 23,118 fans at StubHub Center. The shutout, the fourth of the season, had the team harkening back to October of 2016 – the last time the club was able to stack back-to-back shutouts together. And certainly gave them confidence that they’ve now tied the 2017 season for wins at home (3).

But if it wasn’t for some handiwork from Galaxy midfielder Romain Alessandrini on both sides of the ball, the result could have been one of disaster instead of relief.

This game wasn’t good — let’s get that out of the way quickly. And that was probably the reason it had almost no resemblance to a Cali-Clasico rivalry game of the past. It was simply two teams trying not to suck.

The Galaxy (5-6-1) squandered possession too easily in the first half and looked lost for ideas for most of the game. The highlights come from the defensive side where defender Jorgen Skjelvik had his best game for the Galaxy and, outside of some sketchy defending from Emrah Klimenta, the club never put themselves in too many dangerous positions.

Galaxy midfielder Perry Kitchen also put in a good shift as he stayed connected with Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos, and made sure to sit tight in-front of the Galaxy’s defense. He won several tackles and shielded players away from the middle on numerous attacks.

The Earthquakes (2-7-3) set up defensively for the game and were perfectly happy to keep players behind the ball in an attempt to force the Galaxy to play through them. The result was a counter-attacking team that found it difficult to break out fast enough to force the Galaxy out of their defensive set and who found success in making the Galaxy get creative.

Neither team had a shot on goal until Alessandrini buried an 82nd-minute left-footed shot from about 23 yards out. And that came after Emmanuel Boateng, a second-half substitution and spark-plug, lost the ball in a challenge from the Earthquakes’ Anibal Godoy. But Boateng was able to shield the ball for long enough to allow Alessandrini to pick it up outside the arc at the top of the box and rifle a shot past Andrew Tarbell.

Then, just seven minutes later, Alessandrini would be involved again. This time after a Dann Hoesen free kick that struck the wall before bouncing back to him. His half-volley shot was ripped to Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham’s right. Bingham hit full extension where he was able to tip the ball ever so slightly off the crossbar. The ball angled down and was sitting pretty for the Earthquakes Quincy Amarikwa when Alessandrini, running towards his own goal, hit an overhead kick that cleared the ball back up the field.

The Galaxy survived the two-minutes of stoppage time afterward and walked away with an unconvincing, but welcomed victory.

Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid was pleased with the Galaxy’s defensive effort. But must still be worried about the lack of cohesion his side showed for most of the game. Passes were predictable and were misplaced. The midfield, working through Jonathan dos Santos, could be dangerous at times but all too often didn’t move the ball quickly enough and failed to get the ball forward into dangerous spots.

Galaxy striker Ola Kamara, alone at the top of the formation thanks to the red card suspension to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was disconnected from the rest of the offense, and outside some half chances, failed to create anything that troubled the Earthquakes too much.

Boateng continued to have an influence on the outcome of games as he once again assisted on the game-winning goal. That’s his second such assist in two games and his role as a super-sub is starting to be cemented with Schmid. In his 45-minutes of play he created four chances – the highest on the team – and now leads the club with four assists.

If he can fix his struggles with ball control and his seemingly endless ability to give the ball away by dribbling into coverage, he could find some starting minutes. But so far, that hasn’t been the way he operates.

The Galaxy should be satisfied with the way their defense played and happy that they walked away with three points, but overall, the game should be a reminder that they’re far from good and haven’t even come close to tapping the talent on the field.

They’ll have a short week of training as the club gears up for the arrival of FC Dallas on Wednesday night at StubHub. With Dallas being a much more difficult test of their new-found confidence at StubHub Center.