By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink
LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers
FT: 1 – 2
The LA Galaxy and the Portland Timbers made their MLS is Back debuts on Monday night. The highly anticipated late-night matchup did not go the way most fans expected.
From the start, LA Galaxy’s lineup looked promising– A 4-4-2 led by Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Cristian Pavon could surely outmatch the young Jeremy Ebobisse-led Portland attack. The least the Blue, White, and Gold needed to do in the first half was put pressure on the Timbers and keep it 0-0. But the Cascadian team managed to open up the Galaxy instead.
LA midfielder Sacha Kjlestan was forced to leave his defensive mid post to help with the counterattack, leaving his back four vulnerable. Fans and players alike anticipated a goal from Chicharito, so much so that his teammates worked to get him the ball rather than take shots themselves. He was awarded an easy chance in the form of a 12′ penalty kick, but the Timbers’ Steve Clark stopped the shot and the following deflection.
LA’s David Bingham came up with a few saves, but in the 59′ he was caught one-on-one by Ebobisse, who took full advantage of his failure to step back to score the first goal. Sebastian Blanco notched the assist and continued to trouble the Galaxy’s defense, adding a second goal at the 66′ mark.
By the 75’ Portland was a man down, but LA Galaxy still couldn’t capitalize. However, Gordon Wild was a spark off the bench, which gave the Gs late chances. He made further attempts toward goal, but there was nowhere for him to go with the ball with three Portland defenders on him. Wild was credited though for Chicharito’s first goal, feeding the striker the ball on a well-timed run in the 88′.
Just as a single player can’t be relied on for all the goals, a single player can’t be blamed for a loss. Galaxy’s midfield lacks creativity this season and the players don’t seem to have ideas on the ball. Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto is on the hot seat now.
During a mid-game interview, Barros Schelotto said he was aware the ball wasn’t moved quick enough into attack, but still said his team was playing well despite what fans were seeing: too many desperate crosses to keep the ball in play. It was clear LA was missing Jonathan Dos Santos, who was out due to injury, and Joe Corona, suspended on a red card from the second game of the season. The Galaxy would get the ball forward, then lose it and have to frustratingly start all over again with the same passes and crosses to keep the ball in play.
According to the stats, Galaxy were called offside four times and the match should’ve resulted in a draw (or would have if Chicharito hadn’t missed the penalty). But the scoreline better reflects how terribly the Galaxy played and makes the Timbers appear a better side.
Both clubs return to the pitch on Saturday, July 18. The Portland Timbers face Houston in prime time while the LA Galaxy will play another late-night feature against LAFC.
Featured image: MLS (Devin L’Amoreaux and Jared Martinez)
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