Steve Carrillo

Galaxy undone by Seattle from the start

The LA Galaxy lost to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night with an offense that seems to be afraid to score goals and a team that started too slow.

CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy ended their scoreless streak at 365 minutes, thanks to a late consolation goal from Sebastian Lletget. But the Galaxy were nowhere near a celebratory mood, not after a 3-1 loss at home on Saturday night.

The Seattle Sounders, on the other hand, scored three goals against the Galaxy (4-6-3: 15 points) and made playing on the road look downright enjoyable. After all, the weather was cool, the air clean, and the defense porous — the perfect way to start and cap off a win over Galaxy.

The Sounders (7-3-3; 24 points), coming off a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers midweek, looked rested, relaxed, and up for the challenge the Galaxy were supposed to pose. But when they met no opposition for 88 minutes of the game, they simply dominated and outclassed the Galaxy from every angle.

Jordan Morris orchestrated much of the Sounders attack. Morris, helping Cristian Roldan to the first goal after defender Nouhou Tolo found him on a sprint behind defender Rolf Feltscher. Morris then crossed to Roldan for the tap-in. Galaxy defender Nick DePuy tried to stop the pass but ended up just deflecting it right into Roldan’s path. Seattle already had a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, and the game was only 12 minutes old.

They would double that lead in the 38th minute, and this time Morris would be the one slamming the ball home. Played in by Nicolás Lodeiro, and kept onside by DePuy and Emiliano Insua, Roldan’s sweeping pass filtered in behind Feltscher. Morris then drove the ball into the box before slotting it between Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham’s legs.

The Galaxy were slow and plodding throughout the first half. Something Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto admitted in his post-game comments.

“Yes, you’re right,” he said. “It’s important to know. Same thing happened against Colorado seven days ago. Every time we got the ball, we played back, and we gave the ball to the center backs or the goalie, and we made the games very slow. That is a point we need to change, because we need to look to play face to face, one on one, give the pass forward and take some risks, and then the options will appear.

“When you try and try and some things happen, the options will come. But, if every time you get the ball and you play back, and that is not the idea, the game was very slow how you said in the first half.”

But it wasn’t just about being slow. It was about how much work the home side put into being slow. The sideways passes, misplayed balls, the runs into nothing, and then how much space they allowed the Sounders to counter-attack.

It was similar to how the Galaxy got undone against the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake. And it was a disaster of a half that only ended when Jair Maruffo blew his whistle for halftime.

But having said that, the Galaxy were creating some chances — they were just chances no one would finish.

Sebastian Lletget, the eventual goalscorer for the Galaxy, would miss two good chances to start the second half. That’s where Joe Corona stole a ball in the Seattle end and quickly fed to Lletget. Lletget was open in the box from about 12 yards out and promptly kicked the ball right at Stefan Frei — with almost no power — for the easy save in the 49th minute.

Then, just a minute later, Lletget would get on the end of a header from a few yards away and head the ball wide of the near post.

“Tonight I had one really clear one,” he told reporters after the game. “It was really hard to get over that one because I think if I put that away, maybe they don’t go 3-0 up. So I really blame myself for that one. I think I let the guys down.

“But we have had chances, but I think we start the game soft. The intensity is not right, and I think that’s a huge point for us, so something has to change in that sense for sure.”

Roldan would score in the 61st minute, and that would put a bow on a game that just needed a final flurry from the Galaxy and an 88th-minute goal from Lletget for the final score. Lletget now has five goals on the season and two assists.

“I mean we all are very disappointed,” Javier Hernandez told Spectrum SportsNet after his first 90-minute performance since coming back from a calf strain in mid-September. “We did pretty bad in the first half, and then in the second half, we improved. But it wasn’t enough, and I think it was too late.”

But the Galaxy need to find a way to be competitive as they work Hernandez and Jonathan dos Santos back into the squad. The club is now 0-3-1 with Hernandez playing some part in the action since returning from the MLS is Back Tournament in July and is 0-2 in the last two games he started. But the offense hasn’t been right since a 0-0 draw with San Jose on September 13.

Hernandez was much more active in this game and even had a 41st-minute shot on goal when a delicate pass was put behind the Seattle backline. But nothing was good enough when it came to the Galaxy’s scoring chances. Chicharito joined one-time MVP candidate Cristian Pavon in registering just a single shot towards goal, and only Lletget had more than two shots on goal. The sounders would outshoot the Galaxy 12 to nine and seven to five on goal.

And then there were the crosses. The Galaxy out-crossed the Sounder 34 to 10 on the night. With most of those balls being lofted in the general direction of no one. It points back to the start of the season in February and March, and it doesn’t exactly paint the Galaxy in a complimentary light. And it wasn’t something that happened during the Galaxy’s four-game winning streak earlier this year — a winning streak that is currently tied with the Columbus Crew for the longest this season.

“I wish it was just one thing where we could fix one point, and everything would just fall in place,” explained Lletget. “But it’s either communication – two guys have been integrated into the squad now that they’re healthy. And I think just getting everyone on the same page. Unfortunately, that takes time and we don’t really have time. It’s unfortunate in that sense, but it’s just back to the drawing board.

“Our attitude, as well, including myself. We all need to start better. We need to be that much sharper, that much more intense.”