Carson, CA — The LA Galaxy put together their most complete 90-minutes of 2018.
And thanks to goals from Ola Kamara, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Romain Alessandrini the Galaxy were able to get three points on a warm Saturday night at StubHub Center in front of 21,211 fans.
Unfortunately for the Columbus Crew (8-6-6), they were on the losing side of a 4-0 shutout that found the Galaxy winning just to keep pace with the rest of the Western Conference. It was the first 4-0 win for the club since July 4, 2015 when they hosted and beat Toronto FC at StubHub Center.
The Galaxy (7-7-4), also got back Jonathan and Giovani dos Santos from their World Cup odyssey with Mexico. Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid electing to start the brothers who combined for a total of 48 minutes in Russia.
The start and the victory for the dos Santos brothers marked only the second time this season that they were both on the field for a Galaxy win. The first coming in the season-opening win against the Portland Timbers.
” I thought they did well,” Schmid told reporters after the game. “Obviously Jonathan (dos Santos) in midfield helps us as we bring the ball out a little bit… Gio(vani dos Santos) did well because he led the counter for us on two or three occasions.”
“Gio gave everything he had,” Schmid continued. “And when we took him out, it was because he had left everything on the field. And I think his battle and his work today was very good.”
Welcome back, @OficialGio & @jona2santos! https://t.co/XVCFW4CLPp pic.twitter.com/2BCC56CS6c
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) July 8, 2018
Kamara started the scoring in 42nd-minute when a good build-up saw the ball travel through Ibrahimovic, Jonathan dos Santos and then Ashley Cole. Cole’s pass was directed back to Jonathan dos Santos which allowed Cole to overlap on the left-hand side.
Kamara baited his defender, the Crew’s Lalas Abubakar, into allowing a near post run. Cole’s low cross found Kamara making a quick run for the Galaxy’s first goal of the evening and his seventh goal of the season.
But when the ball kicked off after the goal, the Crew quickly ran downfield where Gyasi Zardes — visiting StubHub Center for the first time since being traded from the Galaxy — crossed a dangerous ball into the center of the box. Zardes looked to have kept the ball from going over the end line and the ball rocketed through the box and off of defender Dave Romney’s foot and into the back of his own net.
But in his first game as a center referee, Joseph Dickerson, assisted by VAR official Ramy Touchan, found the entire ball had crossed over the line and that the goal should be waved off. Thereby protecting the Galaxy’s slimmest of leads.
After the break, the Galaxy found themselves in some better positions with Schmid actually going so far as to invite more attacking pressure from the Crew in order to force space behind them for the counter attacks.
“I know we conceded territory a little bit,” Schmid explained. “We conceded possession a little bit, but that was done with a purpose because we felt we could then have opportunities to counter-attack, which we did and obviously did well with those.”
With the Galaxy attacking more freely in space, it was actually a fortunate penalty call — the first awarded penalty to the Galaxy all season — that saw Abubakar at fault again for a Galaxy goal.
Abubakar, in trying to mark a high looping ball that Ibrahimovic was trying to bring down inside the box, either handled the ball or ran into Ibrahimovic’s head. Either way, the Galaxy were awarded the penalty kick and Ibrahimovic converted for his 11th goal of the season.
Then it was Alessandrini’s turn. Coming into the game in the 60th-minute for Kamara, who elected to come out of the match while still nursing a calf strain, and making his first off-the-bench appearance since August of 2017 (2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew), the Frenchman quickly notched his fourth goal of the season.
It was a quick darting run inside the box that found Alessandrini matched up with, who else, but Abubakar. After stripping the defender of the ball Alessandrini’s run went past him once again before slotting home past Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Then, the finaly goal saw Alessandrini take a quick counter-attack with the Galaxy’s Chris Pontius providing the assist. The assist made for six straight games with either a goal or an assist for Pontius (2 goals, 4 assists) and continues his quietly good season for the Galaxy.
In total, the Galaxy were outshot 20 to 14 by the Crew but matched them in shots on goal with five – four of which found their way into the back of the net. But they didn’t make those costly errors that saw they flounder in the two previous games.
“We didn’t make simple mistakes,” Ibrahimovic said to reporters after the game. “We kept going after 1-0. We got two, we got three. We kept playing with confidence, we played more direct. We took care of the chances we had and defensive wise we did good. Not just the defenders, but the whole team I think.
“When you can keep up the good defending, the attacking is good at the same time. It was a good win. After the last two games where we should have won but didn’t, we got a good win today. We scored four and we didn’t concede any goals so that’s good for the confidence.”
Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham, while relatively quiet for most of the night, did have five saves for the Galaxy’s sixth shutout of the season. And with the focus on the defense being the biggest question mark, not allowing any goals is about as perfect as it gets.
“Yes, Gyasi [Zardes] had a good chance,” Bingham said. “That was probably the closest one. I was able to stay big and keep it out. On that play you see our guys blocking the second and third shot. This was kind of the mentality in the second half, we knew we had to step it up and fight a little more, and we did that.”
And the offense, for their part, was also firing on all cylinders. The Galaxy have scored nine goals in the last three games and have a positive goal differential, plus-three, for the first time since their 4-3 victory over LAFC back on March 31.
“We were all angry. We were all disappointed,” Schmid explained about the last two results. “I always have a saying: ‘losing motivates me and winning sustains me.’ So even though the last two games were ties they felt like losses. I know they felt like that to the guys as well… so it was good to erase that memory.”