This was a hard game to review. The Galaxy now have two losses in a row...in their home fortress. No team looks scared to come to Stub Hub, and Curt Onalfo looks like a nervous man on the sidelines. The two losses have come against two Western Conference teams expected to be playoff bound. The injury list is growing to epic proportions, players are being shuffled (did Brian Rowe run over Curt’s dog?), LA has yet to score a goal in the run of play, their captain had an undisciplined brain fart, and fans are not happy.
Happy beginning of the MLS 2017 season!
Now that we’re done playing our sad violin, what was heartening was seeing the team push for a draw on Sunday. Lletget and Garcia’s lung busting runs to prevent Portland’s second goal were indicative of the heart that the team showed in front of their fans (and the fans gustily rewarded them for it). This means that there were some good player ratings even though the Galaxy are 0-0-2.
That said, the Galaxy aren’t pretty right now. We aren’t a group of patient fans, and the Galaxy have dug themselves into a pretty big hole to start 2017. I’m taking the panic button out of the cabinet. Not mashing it yet, but it’s being retrieved. What’s the state of your Galaxy panic button?
With that as the backdrop, player ratings:
Clement Diop: When the announcers spoke about Onalfo wanting to create competition at goalkeeper, I had unpleasant flashbacks to USMNT ex-coach “He Who Shall Not be Named”. That said, Diop had an excellent game, so this was potentially the right choice. He is definitely more aggressive than Rowe in terms of coming off his line, and he made some good choices doing exactly that, and had a couple of fine saves. Not at fault on Portland’s goal. A start that likely should be rewarded with another one.
Nathan Smith: For his first start, not so bad young man. He didn’t look intimidated at the circumstances, and Portland couldn’t take advantage of his youth. Had a couple of missed tackles, but locked down his side and got forward a couple of times to deliver crosses in, and had a key pass. Nice to have depth at fullback.
Sebastian Lletget: He was everywhere. It was like he was on a single minded mission to get the team a point. Singlehandedly prevented a goal in the 2nd half by sheer will. I don’t know if it was because Bruce Arena was in the audience, but his work effort was 150%. Two key passes and was one of the few dangerous players the Galaxy had after going down a man.
Romain Alessandrini: Better than last week, he got himself into more forward positions (looked to have a goal but for a flying McBean leg), and got himself out of sticky situations without resorting to falling over. Still not as involved as we need him to be, several missed passes, and his corners need major work - they were bloated and overshot his man many times. Work in progress, and hopefully an upward trajectory.
João Pedro: Again, better than last week, he was more industrious in the middle and helped hold down the fort after LA went down a man. But we’re used to Juninho doing more in the middle of the park in terms of finding his teammates and leading the charge forward. He doesn’t have that many defensive actions though his movement on the chalkboard is better than last week.
Daniel Steres: Caught up the pitch on Portland’s counter, but had some vital headers on corners and overall didn’t do much to bring notice onto himself, especially when his partner in crime was carded off the pitch.
Rafael Garcia: Redeemed himself by coming back to prevent a second goal from Portland after slipping and falling. He works hard, but he’s depth, not a starter. Just lacks that final bit of quality in his crosses in the final third, and was beat a few times in the defensive third.
Jelle Van Damme: Yes Portland embellished the tackles, and yes there was limited contact. But as Captain, he should know better. We know he’s a hot head, we saw that last year, but he can’t leave the team in the situation where we’re down a man with the majority of the game to go, especially with a defense that’s cobbled together with scotch tape and gum.
Jack McBean: Flung himself around, but it was without agency and his flying leg prevented what looked like a sure goal from Alessandrini. Passing game wasn’t so hot either. Had the ball trapped under his feet several times, and wasn’t on target (63% passing accuracy).
Giovani Dos Santos: Clearly injured for the first half.
Baggio Husidic: Subbed out after Van Damme’s second yellow.
Emmanuel Boateng: I don’t get why he’s not starting. The team is slow without him and he’s been a bright spot keeping defenses honest when he’s in the XI. Was the right sub for Husidic.
Jose Villarreal: late sub.