Carson, CA. – Scoring goals has not been a problem this season for the LA Galaxy, thanks in large part to the exploits of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who needs two goals for 500 in his career on Saturday against Minnesota United at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes).
But preventing goals … well, that’s another matter. It’s a perplexing one, to say the least.
The Galaxy, not-so-proud owners of Major League Soccer’s highest-paid defense, have allowed 38 goals – fifth from the bottom in the Western Conference — and goalkeeper David Bingham has recorded six shutouts. The Galaxy also have allowed 107 shots on goal, far fewer than conference-leading Houston’s 133.
It’s the inconsistency of the defense that continues to be a headache for head coach Sigi Schmid. They have allowed three goals in a game seven times, and for every 4-0 shutout – which the Galaxy enjoyed in a recent win over Columbus – there have been six goals allowed in the 80th minute or later. Three of them have been game-winners, the latest one by Colorado’s Sam Nicholson in the 90th minute of last weekend’s 2-1 loss to the Rapids.
“I’ve never played on a defense that has conceded that many goals,” said center back Jorgen Skjelvik, an off-season acquisition from Norwegian side Rosenborg BK who happens to be MLS’ highest-paid defender at $1 million annually. “We either have a shutout or concede a lot of goals.
“I think about it a lot, for sure. You don’t care if you score four goals if you concede three; you want to get shutouts. Of course it’s frustrating.”
Schmid said the defensive numbers can be a little misleading – and perhaps not as depressing as they might appear.
“There’s more quality there than at times that we’ve shown,” he said of his defense. “And then again when you look at the goals we’ve allowed versus other teams, our defensive ranking is not that out of line.
“There’s a lot of teams that are worse defensively than us. By the same token, we allow a good number of shots on goal, and that’s something I want to see less of. I never want to see our goalie among the top saves leaders in the league. That’s not a good thing.
“It’s just frustration from the standpoint that I think we’re better than we’ve shown,” he went on. “There’s just been times where we’ve lost a little bit of concentration and we just need to maintain that concentration. I think we have guys on our team that are capable of doing that and it’s just a matter of making sure we get it together.”
Don’t be surprised if the Galaxy’s Baggio Husidic winces when he watches Minnesota United take the StubHub Center field on Saturday.
“I’ll definitely have some flashbacks,” he said. “It’s hard to get it out of your head.”
It has been a little over a year – May 21, 2017, to be exact – since he suffered a broken leg in a 2-1 victory over the Loons. Husidic was attempting a slide tackle in the eighth minute when his foot caught on the turf at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota and his right leg snapped.
Husidic still remembers the play vividly.
“My wife (Fay) said she knew it was serious because I don’t fake injuries,” he recalled. “My foot got caught on the turf when I was trying to stop and turn. I heard a crack, but the pain wasn’t right away. But after a few seconds, it started and my leg started shaking.
“My teammates said it was disgusting.’’
Husidic said he’s never seen a replay of the incident and doesn’t plan to.
“I can’t watch replays of injuries,” he said. “I just can’t look at that stuff.”
HEY, I KNOW YOU
Schmid will be running into an old friend this weekend, but that might not be such a good thing.
Minnesota, a franchise in its second year of existence, features Columbian midfielder Darwin Quintero, who has seven goals and six assists in his last seven appearances. He faced Schmid and his former team, the Seattle Sounders, in the CONCACAF Champions League.
To say Quintero, who transferred to United in March and became the club’s first-ever designated player – Columbian forward Angelo Rodriguez recently became the second — was a formidable adversary is putting it mildly.
“He’s a very good player,” Schmid said. “When I was in Seattle in the (CONCACAF) Champions League I would run into him when he was with Santos Laguna. Then we play Club America and he’s there again.
“I haven’t been able to avoid him much. Now we play Minnesota and he’s there again,” he went on with a laugh.