First it was the loss of Major League Soccer’s leading goal scorer, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, to an apparent calf injury during warmups Sunday. Then it was the Galaxy out-shooting Sporting Kansas City 9-1 in the first half and having nothing to show for it. Finally, it was the end result, a frustrating 2-0 loss in front of a Dignity Health Sports Park of 23,556.
Yes, it was that kind of night for the Galaxy, who also lost center back Sega Coulibaly to a leg injury, but there were plenty of positives to take away from what head coach Greg Vanney said was the team’s best performance of the season, despite the fact the Galaxy suffered their second consecutive loss at home.
“We are doing a lot of good things like Greg said,” midfielder Victor Vazquez said. “Of course it is always about the result. When you don’t win the people start to talk like, ‘OK, maybe it is not the right way, maybe it is not the good result,’ but I think we have to be happy with the way we played, the way the guys worked on the field.
“Now we think about Dallas on Wednesday because we have another tough game, like all the games here.”
Vazquez, who wore the team captain’s armband with Hernandez sidelined, was in the center of the action most of the night. He and Ethan Zubak, for example, almost connected for the game’s first goal in the 33rd minute, only to have SKC goaltender Tim Melia turn away the attempt with a diving save on Zubak’s header.
Vazquez was denied again in he 56th minute, when Melia stopped his rebound attempt on a shot by Julian Araujo, and six minutes later Vazquez’s effort from the top of the penalty area went just wide of the net.
Vanney justifiably heaped praise on the 34-year-old who joined the club during the off-season after he spent the last three years playing overseas.
“I thought his performance was top-level,” Vanney said. “Again, his ability to organize the game, organize attacking situations, his vision for the final pass. It’s a different level, really.
“I thought he was outstanding. He put in an incredible shift over 90 minutes. I thought his work was incredible just on the defensive side. I thought he was outstanding both from a leadership perspective and just organizing some of those final actions.”
Sporting Kansas City finally broke the scoreless duel in the 80th minute on Johnny Russell’s first goal of the season and then iced the outcome on Khiry Shelton’s breakaway goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Vazquez couldn’t help think but think about several of the team’s near-misses — the Galaxy out-shot Sporting Kansas City 18-12 — and how easily the outcome could have gone in the Galaxy’s favor.
“When you don’t score, you pay after,” he said. “I think the second half we start again OK. We played good, a lot of good options to score again and then at the end they have one chance. They score a goal and we tried to make things faster … maybe with a bit of a rush because we need to score and then they got the second goal and then it was done.
“I think we have to be happy with the performance of the team, but not with the result, of course.”
Vazquez said the team is headed in the right direction, despite the loss.
“We are creating the chances, clear chances today,” he said. “But sometimes you don’t score and you pay. Maybe sometimes more luck and today we didn’t have any luck. They had maybe two or three chances, they scored two goals. We had seven or eight chances and we didn’t score.
“Futbol is about scoring goals, and today it’s Kansas City’s turn. They won and we have to think about these kinds of things.”