After a promising start to the 2021 season, the LA Galaxy came back down to Earth on Sunday, as they faced a game Seattle Sounders side at Lumen Field and lost 3-0, the Galaxy’s first loss of the campaign.
LA knew the Sounders would be a tough opponent and so they proved to be, as they stuck to their gameplan of grabbing a lead, an insurance goal and shutting things down in the back to hold the Galaxy off for 90 minutes. The Galaxy could have used a lucky bounce along the way that never came, but while they were not good enough to win this game, they also battled the whole game and now have a good measuring stick in terms of their progress so far this season.
Greg Vanney made three changes to his lineup for LA, bringing in Derrick Williams for his debut in place of Nick DePuy and giving Efrain Alvarez his first start of the year in place of Adam Saldaña. Julian Araujo maintained his spot in the lineup, but at the expense of Ethan Zubak, with Oniel Fisher starting at right back.
The Sounders found the breakthrough in the 20th minute, as Brad Smith crossed from the left flank into the box, with Raul Ruidiaz sticking a leg out to redirect the kick and get it past Jonathan Bond.
It got worse just three minutes later, as a counterattack led to a cross by Cristian Roldan that was dummied past two players before Smith poked it home, his second goal in as many games after never previously scoring in MLS.
The movement and interchange here from the Roldan bros is so, so good, as is the combo play from Ruidiaz & Bruin.— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) May 3, 2021
It is terrifying that the Sounders have been this good without Lodeiro. pic.twitter.com/ZF6pkLKlsr
Samuel Grandsir had his best look of his nascent MLS career in the 27th minute, as Alvarez sent him a ball over the top that the Frenchman latched onto and took a shot that forced a save from Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
After Seattle took the two-goal lead, LA did get the ball for the second half of the opening 45 minutes, and started linking up, although they struggled to get the ball into the box and get tangible scoring chances. But they were pushing to get a goal back and get back into the game.
Vanney didn’t waste time in making adjustments for the 2nd half, bringing on Zubak, DePuy and Sacha Kljestan for the second 45, with Alvarez, Williams and Fisher exiting.
Jorge Villafaña had a sharp cross into traffic in the 52nd minute that nearly trickled into the goal, and about a minute later Chicharito had his best look of the night, but a deflection seemed to take his toe-poke wide.
Bad news just before the hour mark, as Chicharito got caught on the foot on an aerial challenge and was in some real pain. But he continued in the game, hunting for his first goal on the night even though he remained a bit hobbled.
In the 65th minute, Vazquez made way for Cameron Dunbar.
In the final 20 minutes or so the Sounders’ attacking intent revived, in part due to the entrance of playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro for his season debut. Needless to say, it made it more difficult for LA to mount an attacking sequence themselves, and their hopes of getting another comeback going withered. Kelyn Rowe had a header for the Sounders that bounced off both the crossbar and far post in the 80th minute, but it somehow stayed out of the goal and Jonathan Bond recovered to collect the ball gratefully.
Jonathan Perez made his long-awaited MLS debut in the 83rd minute, coming off the bench for Grandsir.
Ruidiaz added insult to injury in second-half stoppage time, as substitute Jimmy Medranda fed him with a cross on the counterattack and Ruidiaz scored his second of the night to make it 3-0.
While the defensive breakdowns to allow three goals were costly, in this case the bigger issue was that the attack just didn’t click like it had the last three halves of soccer for the Galaxy. Chicharito was on an island again, and leaving Zubak on the bench to kick off the game was puzzling considering how well he’s played this season so far. LA only managed two shots on goal and they just didn’t test Seattle enough to make it seem like they could really threaten their opponent. Obviously no team in MLS will win them all, and this is not a reason to panic, but it’s definitely an occasion to assess what went wrong and try to get better for the next one.
And the next one’s a big one, El Trafico at home next Saturday against LAFC. It’s another big game, and a rivalry to boot, so the Galaxy will need to fix what ailed them and see if they can get the upper hand on their upstart neighbors, again.
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