The Galaxy were missing several players during the midweek clash as Jonathan Dos Santos and Rolf Feltscher were called up for international duty for Mexico and Venezuela, respectfully. Additionally, the Galaxy were without striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who missed the game to be with his family after he and his wife welcomed their newborn daughter, Nala, on Sunday October 5th.
While key starters were missing from the lineup, the Galaxy offense still managed to score three goals, eclipsing their goal total over the four previous games. However, any momentum gained from their offense output was dashed by an efficient Portland Timbers team who punished the Galaxy defense for mistakes and mental lapses.
After the game, Guillermo Barros Schelotto mentioned that this game could have possibly been the LA Galaxy’s low point of the season. The Galaxy appear to have very little time to regroup and analyze their situation as they travel to Colorado on Saturday to take on a Rapids. However, the game may be in jeopardy of being postponed as the Rapids have missed their last three matches due to confirmed positive cases of Covid-19.
Let’s take a look at how the players fared on the night:
TOP OF THE CLASS
After a bit of a quiet spell during the current losing streak, Cristian Pavon returned to form with a goal and an assist. Pavon now leads the team in both goals (7) and assists (6).
Pavon also led the team in shots and chances created. During the first half, Pavon struggled to connect on passes with his teammates, but as the game went on he found his rhythm when crashing down the wing,
One of Pavon’s best traits is his work rate and hustle, but this game saw him add the wrinkle of physicality and aggression. Pavon was relentless with the Portland defense as he used his body to bounce defenders off of him.
Pavon used his physicality in this match to create space in order to set up both his assist and his goal. In what has become his signature move, Pavon took the ball on the outside of the box and then cut inside to shoot and score. While this move had been attempted several times throughout the season, it was a welcome sight to see it working again.
It’s hard to find many positives in such a lopsided loss, but Pavon held up his end of the bargain in making the Galaxy offense tick.
After serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, Julian Araujo returned to the starting eleven at his preferred position of right back. Araujo showed what the Galaxy was missing in his absence as he had the most touches on the Galaxy defense.
Araujo’s highlight from the match came in the 34th minute when a ball was headed clear from an LA Galaxy corner kick and fell to Araujo’s feet where he took a touch to create space and smashed home his first career MLS goal into the bottom corner.
The Galaxy backline as a whole has what can easily be described as a less than stellar night, but Araujo stood out from the crowd with his play.
Efrain Alvarez stepped into a midfield starting role again and impressed in certain moments throughout the night. The Galaxy have struggled to get many shots off in recent matches, but Alvarez matched Sebastian Lletget and Cristian Pavon on the stat sheet as each took four shots.
Alvarez has shown in previous games that he is the type of player to make the extra pass rather than take the opportunity on his own. In this match, we saw Alvarez be the aggressor in many of these moments as he tried to add his name to the scoresheet.
While Alvarez still needs to improve on his passing as he was the Galaxy’s lowest rated passer on the evening, he still found himself in some great spots with a few opportunities to score.
Sacha Kljestan returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the opening match of the MLS is Back tournament against these same Portland Timbers on July 13th.
Kljestan ended up leading the team in touches and passes, but ultimately was ineffective with them. There was definitely a rust factor with Kljestan as some of his giveaways and mistakes contributed to Portland goals.
Kljestan apologized to fans in the post game press conference for the team’s poor preformance, but he wanted to assure them that the team is giving everything they possibly can.
Dan Steres has been one of the Galaxy’s most consistent defenders throughout the season, but this was not a game that Steres will want to go back and watch.
Any time a team gives up six goals, it is going to shine a light on defensive weaknesses and in this match Steres, and fellow center back Nick DePuy, simply made it too easy for the Timbers to get their goals.
Steres found himself outpaced by Timbers attackers on several occasions and out of position at other times. Additionally, Steres did not make a single tackle on the evening which is not a statistic you want to see show up blank from a central defender.
Steres admitted in the post game press conference that this match “felt different” as there were simple mistakes and poor communication that led to easy goals for Portland.
Nick DePuy also finds himself on the wrong side of the player grades this week as his performance mirrored that of partner in the center of defense, Dan Steres.
DePuy could be seen chasing the play and ball-watching on several of the Portland goals. Many of the mistakes and errors that DePuy made in this game were the same types of errors that forced Giancarlo Gonzalez out of a starting spot.
At a point earlier in the season, DePuy was thought to be the answer to the Galaxy’s defensive woes, but after giving up 15 goals in the last five matches, a change in the back may be needed again and DePuy could find himself back on the bench.
In the last edition of Grading the Galaxy, I mentioned the David Bingham paradox which stated that if Bingham has a good performance, it is an indicator that the defense was poor. In this match, there was no paradox as the defense performed poorly and Bingham was simply not good enough.
The key stat from this match is that the Portland Timbers had only seven shots on goal, but still managed to score six goals. While the defense absolutely put Bingham in a bad position with some of the goals, there were also some, where Bingham has no excuses due to his poor positioning.
Bingham earned some criticism in allowing a free-kick goal on the goalkeeper side of the wall, but to me, the most demoralizing moment came in the 47th minute when Diego Valeri chipped Bingham with a low percentage show inside of 10 yards.
Other clubs have made goalkeeper changes after performances that have yielded fewer goals against. The question needs to be asked if a goalkeeper change is needed after the second time in a single season that the team has given up half a dozen goals.
Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.