The LA Galaxy are off to their worst start in franchise history, with just one point in four matches (0-3-1), and they’re not-so-proudly sitting in last place in Group F of Major League Soccer’s MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla.
The five-time MLS Cup champions need a victory on Thursday against the Houston Dynamo (5 p.m., Fox Sports 1) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center, not to mention plenty of help, to advance to the event’s knockout round. Anything less than a win and they’re headed back to Southern California.
One might sense there is a growing sense of trouble on a team that is coming off an embarrassing 6-2 loss to their arch-rivals, Los Angeles FC, in their last tournament match. But defender Dan Steres said that’s not necessarily the case.
“What are we, four games into the season?” Steres said on a video conference call with reporters Tuesday. “Of course, there’s concern. We haven’t won a game yet, and that’s never what we want. But it’s four games into a broken-up season, we’ve had eight weeks off. This is essentially a preseason tournament.
“That’s no excuse for us because every team’s been going through it. But there’s things we need to get better at and improve on. If we’re going to continue the rest of the season, we need to start that here and move forward.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to raise alarms,” he continued. “We’ll get things figured out. We just need to get it done sooner rather than later.”
The Galaxy trailed LAFC 3-2 in the 56th minute last Saturday when the game turned into a rout. Diego Rossi scored two of his four goals in the final 15 minutes, and the Galaxy were left with allowing the most goals since a 6-2 loss to Real Salt Lake on Sept. 1, 2018 at what then was known as Stub Hub Center in Carson.
“If you look at 65 minutes of that game (against LAFC), we’re doing pretty good,” said goalkeeper David Bingham, who is tied for the league lead in goals allowed with San Jose’s Daniel Vega and Vancouver’s Maxime Crepeau. “Is it perfect? It’s not. So we’re in the game and we’re in a good spot going forward. We get a goal called offside, then from about the 65th minute forward we kind of fall apart, and that’s obviously something we have to work on.
“The game’s 90 minutes long, it’s not 60 or 65. We have to do better finishing off games and we have to work on that this week going into Houston.”
Bingham is in his 10th MLS season and said it never gets easier trying to bounce back from such an unsettling loss.
“I think if it gets easier it’s probably time to hang the cleats up and take the gloves off,” he said. “I think after the 60th, 65th minute of that game we’re feeling good and we’re in a good spot. Then to just throw it down the drain is disappointing.
“No one is more frustrated about that than the players. Our fans are upset, our coaches are upset. As players we’re the ones that shoulder the burden on that. It’s a terrible feeling and we have to do better than that, and we know that.”
Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, now without two designated players in Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (calf injury) and Jonathan dos Santos (sports hernia surgery) and suddenly coming under fire for his game management and substitution patterns — or lack thereof — said there was one major lesson to be learned from the LAFC debacle.
“I think this game we have to learn that we have to fight 90 minutes,” he said. “Nothing can happen during the game to change that or the mentality, about the attitude we need to have about the game. I question myself … why we give up after 70 minutes? That is the first thing we need to ask.
“Every player has to be ready to go 90 minutes. When you give up, it’s bad for the team, for the result, for everything.”