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Photo by Steve Carrillo

Defense lets the Galaxy down in loss at Seattle

The LA Galaxy aren’t going to be happy with their defense after they tied the game twice in the second half. But ultimately the Seattle Sounders used their home-field advantage and a 90th-minute mistake from the Galaxy to win the game 4-3 on the turf of Century Link Field.

“The result is bad for us because it gives three points to Seattle and we are fighting for the playoffs,” Galaxy Head Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said after the game. “If you analyze the game, I think the game was very even. Sometimes they played well and sometimes we managed the ball and the situations.”

Both teams, however, will want to forget the first half of this match that was marked by Seattle’s first goal in stoppage time, and inconsistent, choppy play. However, the Galaxy were the better team through most of the first 45-minutes but failed to capitalize on any of their half-chances.

The Galaxy finally got on the board, already down by two goals, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 23rd goal of the season in 66th-minute. The tally moved him just one behind tying Carlos Ruiz’s single-season Galaxy record of 24 goals.

With the gap closed to just one goal, the Galaxy would find new life. Uriel Antuna, Cristian Pavon, Jorgen Skjelvik, and Ibrahimovic would throw themselves forward in an attempt to tie the game.

Antuna would get the goal – his third of the season – when a shot from Pavon bounced off of Ibrahimovic’s thigh and found Antuna at the back post. His finish past Frei leveled the match at two apiece in the 75th-minute.

But Seattle’s Jordan Morris wouldn’t let that lead last for long. Morris, who finished with a goal and an assist, found teammate Raul Ruidiaz with a pass, before running into open space behind Giancarlo Gonzalez and Diego Polenta and firing a shot past David Bingham to regain the lead in the 77th-minute.

On replay, Ruidiaz appeared to be in an offside position, but VAR didn’t flag a review for center referee Chris Penso, and the goal stood.

Polenta, however, just four minutes later, would find a great pass behind the Seattle defense to Skjelvik. The Norwegian would fire past Seattle Goalkeeper Stefen Frei and would tally a game-tying strike for his first goal since joining the team ahead of the 2018 season.

Schelotto, who had already subbed in Joe Corona for Favio Alvarez earlier in the game — a sub that helped the Galaxy press forward, then went to his bench to end Antuna’s night for the 18-year-old Julian Araujo in the 89th-minute. Araujo came into the match and immediately intercepted a pass in the Galaxy’s defensive third.

But he slipped on the turf quickly turning the ball over. Araujo then tried to chase Seattle’s Brad Smith into the penalty box before redirecting his cross toward the back post where Cristian Roldan was ready to tap in the game-winner. It was Roldan’s second goal of the game and his second back-post tap-in.

In replays of the goal, Polenta can be seen in the general vicinity, but Skjelvik, who was supposed to be at the back-post, wasn’t in the frame.

“I think that we all have to look in the mirror and see what we are doing wrong and it’s going to be important to see what’s missing from the games,” Corona told reporters after the game. “Up top we usually are scoring goals, we just have to be more awake in the back. I’m including myself, I’m talking about everyone defensively starting with the forwards.”

The Galaxy fell to the seventh spot in Western Conference with the loss. But there’s a genuine chance they’ll be dropped out of the playoffs altogether when Portland plays a weekend match during the International break.

The loss is likely to sting even more as the Galaxy don’t play again for ten days. They’ll next matchup with the Colorado Rapids on September 11th in Commerce City, CO after five players will take off and return from international duty.