Los Angeles – Everyone associated with the Los Angeles Galaxy “wants better.” LA was outhustled and disjointed in a humiliating 3-1 home loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, May 6, 2023. The Angel City Brigade let the team know as much at full-time. The supporter group, returning to the stands after ending their involvement in the Klein Out boycott, got their message to land where it needed to. There were no boos this time, instead loud chants of “We want better” were heard.
Post-game, Head Coach Greg Vanney, and Captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández agreed with the group. It’s hard not to. With only one Galaxy win in 10 matches, who can blame them?
LA Galaxy Post Match
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) May 7, 2023
The Force Is Wrong With This One
Douglas Costa’s injury afforded Vanney the opportunity to field an attacking 3-5-2. The formation yielded a return in the Galaxy’s only win of the season. It also gave it the width they sorely lack.
Instead, Vanney started with a 4-4-2 diamond and started midfielder Uri Rosell. By halftime, Rosell had been subbed off and the formation changed to 3-5-2. This wasn’t the only mistake for Vanney. He chose to bench his most reliable performer this season, Jalen Neal, in favor of the error-prone Sega Coulibaly. Coulibaly too had made way by halftime, felled by an injury in the 27- minute.
By that point, though, LA was already down 1-0. Galaxy Goalkeeper, Jonathan Klinsmann, misjudged a corner kick in the 14-minute, was left flapping at air, and punished. Lalas Abubakar took advantage, rose between Mark Delgado and Lucas Calegari, and thumped home a rocket header for the 1-0 lead.
And it was avoidable. Once again, a Galaxy turnover turned into a transition they didn’t defend well. Which led to the set piece, that led to goal.
“We play a straight ball to Riqui, who drops down, and we lose the ball right in front of our line, and it goes out and gets a corner kick. It’s, again, an unnecessary loss of possession… And we play kind of a lazy pass, and we’re not ready for the pressure coming on us if we lose it. And now we’re defending a corner, and we know that’s one of their strengths,” Vanney said of the goal. “They’re a big team, and we don’t defend it well. Now we’re down one, and now we feel, again, we’re pressing a little bit more to try to… pressing not from a defending standpoint, pressing from a mentality of, we’ve got to try and go get this.”
Right on target
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) May 7, 2023
The Phantom Menace
The Galaxy never really threatened Colorado’s goal in the first half. Indeed, the best play came from former player, Kevin Cabral. The Frenchman pulled off a neat flick over Coulibaly and showed an exquisite display of footwork dancing around three Galaxy players. His end product was lacking and Klinsmann saved easily. But it would be a warning.
Vanney brought on Tyler Boyd at the half to spark the offense. And Boyd was probably the best performer for LA overall. His game-high four chances created led all Galaxy players, as a substitute. But no one around him did much. Riqui Puig and Gaston Brugman were uncharacteristically wasteful, with Puig, in particular, having no impact. His return to the lineup was underwhelming after serving his one-match ban for yellow card accumulation.
Chicharito wasn’t better. He found himself on more than one occasion with a good pass to feet, only for his first touch to let him down and the play to break down. One of these offensive breakdowns in the 64-minute led to the moment Galaxy fans had been dreading.
After Brugman had played a speculative long ball, Colorado recovered and found the superb Connor Ronan in midfield. Ronan, who had three assists, found Diego Rubio in acres of space on the right. Rubio burned Martin Caceres for pace and found himself with only Klinsmann to beat. Rubio played a square ball to Cabral in the center of the six-yard box for the easy tap-in and the 2-0 Rapids lead. Worse still, the Galaxy paid Cabral for him to score on them.
It would get worse. After another attacking play broke down, the Galaxy got caught in transition again. This time a long ball out of the back was their undoing. After Caceres failed to deal, Jonathan Lewis held him off and found Ronan. Ronan delayed slightly and played a scooped ball behind the Galaxy defense to a streaking Lewis in the box. Lewis gently placed his first-time shot, and it curved past Klinsmann for the final dagger in the 81-minute and the 3-0 scoreline.
— Brendan Ploen (@BrendanPloen) May 7, 2023
A New Hope?
The silver lining for LA is Preston Judd’s first senior MLS goal. With fans leaving, Efrain Alvarez played in a right-side cross. Rapids Defender Danny Wilson deflected, and it fell kindly for Judd, who only had to push it home. Judd’s goal made it 3-1 in the 89-minute and unfortunately, he’ll remember his first goal being in defeat. Gino Vivi will remember his MLS debut with bittersweet lenses too. The rookie replaced Julian Aude in the 80th minute with the match settled. And what a time to integrate.
Brugman called for team unity post-match. “I think right now we have to find that unity in the team, that unity that characterized this group last season, which I don’t think is there right now.” Chicharito, by contrast, called for the same thing as supporters.
“The fans were right because I think this organization deserves better. That’s everything that I want to say. We all deserve better… Fans are right. We deserve better, like we all deserve.”
Fans, coaches, and staff want better. But wanting and doing are two different things. Whether the Galaxy can do “better” next week in the Cali Clasico against the San Jose Earthquakes remains to be seen.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 7, 2023
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