Photo by Steve Carrillo

Second Half dooms Galaxy against Real Salt Lake

The Galaxy’s scoreless streak is matching their winless streak. Are they creating enough offensive chances?

The LA Galaxy’s offensive woes continued as Real Salt Lake blanked the visitors in a 2-0 victory in Sandy, Utah, in front of a handful of fans but a vocal contingent of traveling Galaxy supporters. Now scoreless in 277 minutes, the Galaxy dropped their second in a row after losing to Colorado on Saturday night and are now winless in their last three games.

With the loss, the Galaxy (4-5-3) drops to tenth in the Western Conference and keep their point total steady with 15.

While all losses can be frustrating, the Galaxy should be extra frustrated with how it all played out. Entering halftime knotted at zeroes, and looking for a way through RSL’s (4-4-5; 17 points) organized midfield, the game was there for taking.

But the Galaxy’s emergence from the locker room to start the second half was anything but energetic. And within three minutes of the whistle, the home team had already racked up three shots forcing goalkeeper David Bingham into two very good saves.

But the scoreline wouldn’t hold for long.

Less than ten minutes into the restart, RSL attacker Justin Meram was played into the box behind the Galaxy defense. Bingham came off his line and thought he had a chance to stop the play. Instead, Meram beat him to the ball, touched it wide around Bingham, and then waited for the contact. It came, and so did the penalty kick, a yellow card, and a converted goal by RSL’s Albert Rusnák.

“We get stretched pretty far, and the ball comes through the middle, and I knew he was going to play Justin [Meram] out wide, and I thought I could get there, to be honest,” Bingham explained to reporters after the game. “When I watch the replay, I’m just a couple of inches away from the ball with my hands. It’s just unfortunate he gets there just before me, and I’m almost able to take it off his foot like I did in the last home game.

“I didn’t get there in time, and it is what it is at this point.”

But for a Galaxy defense that had been the stars of the club’s six-game unbeaten streak, they’ve been victims of continued pressure and the total lack of offense as mentioned above. Counting tonight’s loss, the Galaxy have been outscored by a total of 4-0 in those three games, with a scoreless draw from a now hapless San Jose Earthquakes team being the only point in that span.

However, Guillermo Barros Schelotto wasn’t convinced that the Galaxy didn’t have the chances to score, he’s just saying they haven’t gone in.

“We had the option in the set-piece from [Sebastian] Lletget, in the first half, very clear,” he explained. “We had the shot from [Cristian] Pavon in the first half. We had the set-pieces where we moved the ball to Jonathan [dos Santos], where he got the ball in the box to Rolf [Feltscher], and the ball hit the crossbar. And then we tried, sometimes, to look for the space, for our players to go wide, and then we get in the box, but we weren’t to create these options.

“We tried, but we never made the options real. We had three to four chances to score, as I told you. But even I think the other team didn’t have very many big chances to score, just the two goals and maybe one more.”

The Galaxy, as Schelotto explained, did have two good looks in the first half — with both shots looking like they were going in. The first came in the 15th minute when Sebastian Lletget squared a full-volley from a corner kick. His right-footed rocket seemed to have found the back of the net, but when it bounced off the boards behind the goal, the illusion was revealed. The replays showed it just passing by the near post at a heavy clip with RSL goalkeeper Andrew Putna rooted to his spot.

Cristian Pavon also got in on the action in the first half when his shot from the top of the box in the 22nd-minute deflected of RSL defender Justen Glad and off the crossbar. The ball looked like it was headed for the open goal before Glad redirected it skyward and off the woodwork.

Finally, in the 80th minute, a cross from Galaxy defender Rolf Feltscher — who played in place of the suspended Julian Araujo (red card) — found a cross toward an open Javier Hernandez. But Lletget, also in the same vicinity, tried a low percentage over-the-shoulder shot and stole the ball off Hernandez’s foot.

But in total, the Galaxy were credited with just a single shot on goal for the entirety of the game — from Feltscher in the 61st-minute — and were outshot 13 to seven (six to one on goal).

RSL was able to double their lead just seven minutes after their first goal when Damir Kreilach slotted home an easy cross from Rusnák and Donny Toia in the 72nd-minute. And while it was a two-goal lead, most of the damage came as a result of a poor second-half start.

“I think we came out with really low energy in the second half,” said defender Dan Steres. “I’m not sure why. We were ready in the locker room. We just didn’t have it in the first 15, and it cost us. We tried to play, we tried in the second half, and it was just too late. We didn’t come out well enough.”

In somewhat better news, Jonathan dos Santos and Hernandez both started the game for the first time since March. It’s also the first time the Galaxy started all three Designated players since a 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps on March 7 — coincidentally the last game before the league stopped play due to COVID-19.

And while dos Santos was energetic in the first half, popping around throughout the midfield to interrupt RSL’s game flow, his second half was forgettable. Less can be said about Herandez’s night. He was largely absent, and the Galaxy missed him on the few occasions he was in a dangerous position.

The Galaxy will have little time to refresh with a tough matchup against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday (7:30 PM; SpectrumSN) at Dignity Health Sports Park. But clearly, something has to change — even if that was the Galaxy’s first road loss of the year (2-1-2).

“We need to get better because we need to have more options,” Schelotto said of the offense. “Today, we had a few. I think we need to get better with the movement of the touches to create the option to score.”