The LA Galaxy got two-goal from Javier Hernandez, and another one from Sebastian Lletget, but the draw with Minnesota United isn’t enough to push the Galaxy through to the post-season.
CARSON, Calif. — For just about 90 minutes on Sunday night, the LA Galaxy were going to playoffs. And actually, for the entire season leading up to tonight, the Galaxy were above the playoff line.
But a stoppage-time goal scored 1,600 miles away from Los Angeles by someone the Galaxy weren’t playing sent the Galaxy home early after they failed to secure a win against Minnesota United in a wild 3-3 draw in front of 23,803 fans at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, named the Galaxy’s Player of the Year and the team’s Golden Boot winner after the draw, would score two goals in the final 45 minutes of the game (goals number 16 and 17 on the year). That added to a first-half goal from Sebastian Lletget to get the single point from the match.
But the Galaxy allowed the game’s first two goals when Adrien Hunou and Robin Lod scored for Minnesota in the 22nd and 34th minutes, respectively. And with an own goal in the 62nd minute from Julian Araujo, who Vanney criticized as overanxious to get forward and into the attack on the night, it seemed as if LA wouldn’t be able to fight back.
Chicharito had other ideas, though. And while complaining about handball from his first shot on goal, he buried his second shot to tie the game with 15 minutes remaining.
The cruelty of the game of soccer, however, would show the Galaxy no kindness. For 90 minutes of the match, the Galaxy’s draw – or even loss – would have still put them into the playoffs. Colorado had long since put LAFC to bed with that match heading toward a final of 5-2, which vaulted the Rapids to the first seed in the Western Conference, and Sporting KC had held off Real Salt Lake with those teams looking at a 0-0 draw.
But RSL’s Damir Kreilach would bury a Justin Meram bicycle assist five minutes into six minutes of stoppage time and pull out the 1-0 win for Real Salt Lake.
With the Galaxy outside the playoff picture for the first time all season, Vanney threw everyone forward once word filtered down to the field. But the goal never came. Kevin Cabral had a good chance shortly after stoppage time started, but Tyler Miller, the Minnesota goalkeeper, was up to the task.
The game was undoubtedly entertaining to a neutral. Still, to the Galaxy faithful, who have watched this team make mental mistake after mental mistake, the 90 minutes on the field on Sunday night was just a microcosm of how inconsistent the team has been throughout the entire season. And why the Galaxy have made “Fan Appreciation Night” three words to be feared.
“We spent 5 minutes not in the playoffs all season,” Vanney told reporters after the match, “and then we’re out.”
Surely the Galaxy can be proud of battling back for the point, just the 7th time they’ve allowed the first goal and come back to get a result (1-10-6) all season. But in a 34-game season, it wasn’t good enough.
In their final 22 games of the 2021 season, the Galaxy won just five times. Meanwhile, they managed eight wins through their first 12 games of the season — a pace that seems nearly unrecognizable with how they finished out the season.
Their 13-12-9 record, good enough for 48 points, means they finish tied with Real Salt Lake on points, but lose on the first tiebreaker (number of wins).
Jonathan dos Santos exited the game in the 69th minute of the match and more than likely will see his time with the Galaxy come to a close. The 31-year-old Mexican international will see his Galaxy contract expire at the end of the year, and it’s unlikely – except at a steep, steep salary reduction – the Galaxy will want to retain his services. The dos Santos era will finally come to a close after starting with his brother Giovanni in 2015 and after Jonathan joined the club in the summer of 2017. It’s unlikely history will be kind to either of them regarding what they accomplished with the club.
The offseason for the Galaxy starts on Monday morning. Questions about the retention of Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese will be first and foremost. The Galaxy have activated the team option on te Kloese to keep him under team control through the 2022 season. But with some teams from abroad hoping to land the Dutchman, he could be on the move anyway.
“This will drive me crazy for ten months,” Vanney said through gritted teeth, the frustration of not being able to pull off the win still fresh in his mind. “Until we get an opportunity to be back in the playoffs, this will drive me nuts.”