Steve Carrillo

LA Galaxy out of Open Cup after 1-0 loss at Portland

The LA Galaxy are out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after a 1-0 defeat away to the Portland Timbers on Friday night. The Timbers’ single goal was enough to secure their passage to the quarter-final round, while the Galaxy will look to nurse more injuries as a result of the loss.

The Galaxy, winners in their previous Open Cup game over FC Golden State Force, traveled to Providence Park during Major League Soccer’s World Cup break without Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos (intl duty with Mexico – World Cup), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (World Cup Sponsor Duty), Romain Alessandrini (Quad Injury), and Sebastian Lletget (Injury).

But Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid was still able to put together a competitive group that should have had enough firepower to match the Timbers.

Ola Kamara and Emmanuel Boateng started up top in the formation with Chris Pontius, Bradford Jamieson IV, Ashley Cole, Perry Kitchen, and Servando Carrasco all finding time in the midfield. The Galaxy defended with Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik and Dave Romney with David Bingham in the net.

Early on, however, the Timbers were exploiting a midfield that couldn’t connect passes as the surgically separated¬†Jamieson from the rest of the offense. This wasted Boateng’s edge speed and left Kitchen and Carrasco continually outnumbered in the midfield.

And in the 30-minute, the Galaxy’s defense would find out just how dangerous the gaps in the midfield were.

From a comfortable position the Timbers’ found a good diagonal run from striker Fanendo Adi –Adi was dragging Ciani across the formation just inside the box. Adi instinctually¬†heel-flicked the pass behind him to find a wide-open run from Sebastian Blanco. Blanco was able to hit the ball quickly and gave the Timbers the only goal they’d need on the night.

And while the Galaxy had some chances, and the majority of the possession on the night, they couldn’t find the finishing touch.

Kamara saw a left-footed strike easily gobbled up in the 39-minute, and Skjelvik had a header on target that saw a goalline clearance from the Timbers just before halftime (45+2).

In the second half, the Galaxy went back to a more stable formation that saw them in a 4-5-1 that dropped Boateng back into the midfield and made Cole back into a defender. It also relieved Pontius of his wing-back duties and freed him up to get into the attack.

But the news wouldn’t get better for the Galaxy on the night. In the 57-minute Kamara would fall to the ground holding his calf in a totally non-contact injury. Kamara had to be helped off the field as substitute Ariel Lassiter came on in relief.

Then, in the 70-minute, Boateng had to come off with an apparent injury — Baggio Husidic replacing Boateng for his first minutes since he started the game in a 2-0 loss to Atlanta United back on April 21.

After the game, a team representative would relay that Kamara left with a calf strain while Boateng left with a cramp. So while losing two players during the match was significant, it wasn’t as bad as initially thought.

Although both of those reported injuries are preliminary in nature.

Lassiter was able to muster up the best chance for the Galaxy the whole game when he was played through into the box by a flurry of quick passes between Kitchen and Jamieson. But his 89-minute shot was saved by Timbers’ goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.

The statistics are going to tell you that the Galaxy had more possession, more passes, and better accuracy on those passes. But what the Galaxy were really missing on the night was one brilliant play from an attacker — something they got in their 1-1 draw with the Timbers earlier this month (June 2).

Make no doubt about it, the Timbers’ were the better team and Blanco, in particular, caused the Galaxy fits for most of the night. His ability to drift into space and show up in dangerous channels created their only goal. But the Galaxy weren’t overmatched in this game — they simply couldn’t find the goal that would have prolonged their stay.

The Galaxy will attempt to heal their wounded and take a quick breather as they don’t play another league game until June 30. That’s when they’ll travel to Stanford Stadium to take on the San Jose Earthquakes in the second and final regular-season matchup in the Cali-Clasico (7 p.m. PT; Unimas).