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Galaxy on Fourth Straight Loss with Unexpected Defeat to Colorado

In a surprising, and no doubt frustrating, result for the home side, the LA Galaxy fell 1-0 to the visiting Colorado Rapids on Sunday, May 19, at Dignity Health Sports Park, and gave the Western Conference's last-place team their first win of the season.

Galaxy were coming off three consecutive losses when they faced Colorado, and with their captain and leading goal scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic out on a two-game suspension (for violent conduct against NYC FC keeper Sean Johnson), many felt this was a match Galaxy needed to put away. They were on their home turf, had some fire under their butts, and were playing a team over which they were the clear favorites. It was time to take care of business.

Instead, the Colorado Rapids—who, again, have not won a single game this season—notched their first victory of 2019 thanks to a counterattack goal by Andre Shinyashiki in the 82nd minute,

Prior to their recent losses, Galaxy were holding strong, winning or drawing in their previous seven games. This match served as a litmus test to see how the squad would fare under increased pressure to win, and without their Sir Gregor at the helm.

From the outset, Galaxy out-possessed the Rapids 2 to 1, and created chance after chance after painstaking chance in the box.

Early shots from Argentinian international Favio Alvarez—making his Galaxy debut at right wing—were either straight to Colorado keeper Tim Howard or off-frame. Rolf Feltscher had a pair of prime heading opportunities, but they lacked power and direction. Emmanuel Boateng couldn't get a solid foot on the ball all night, even on close-range crosses from Feltscher and Uriel Antuna.

At one point, an exasperated Galaxy fan shouted, “We need to f*cking win Galaxy! Come on! F*ck this sh*t! Come on!” A plea that more or less spoke for everyone in the stands.

The Rapids had a few real looks at the goal as well, with Kei Kamara whiffing in front of an open net, and Galaxy defender Giancarlo Gonzalez having to make a heroic goal-line clearance after Colorado's Sam Nicholson chipped keeper David Bingham.

At 60 minutes, Galaxy's Diego Polenta volleyed a banger off an Antuna cross that everyone (except maybe Tim Howard) thought would give Galaxy the lead, but it bounced off the post. Antuna, who started the match as a 9, was a veritable crossing machine throughout the match, serving up speed and cutbacks and on-target crosses over and over. Unfortunately, there was no one in the box who could finish in the air.

Along with Antuna, Feltscher put in the lion's share of the work on the field (even with his sad headers. But he's a right back, we'll give him a pass). The two combined effectively to create chances that, on any given game day, Zlatan would happily finish off.

But without Ibra, there was a clear disconnect in the attack, a mismatch of positions, and an overall sense of indecision when approaching the 18. Galaxy would do well to build up to the attacking third, but once outside the 18 hesitate, almost as if they were waiting for something to happen to them. Many of their passes lacked proper pace and precision—a particularly heinous Jonathan dos Santos long ball to Feltscher comes to mind—or else they were unconvincing through-balls that put their forwards in compromising 50/50 situations. Nearly every golden opportunity lacked either quality or confidence.

Dos Santos, who was back from injury and played almost the whole match, and Boateng both had games to forget, and were subbed in the second half for Emil Cuello and Chris Pontius, respectively. Galaxy's 16-year-old Efrain Alvarez also subbed in for Favio at 75 minutes to present some fresh legs and perspective, perhaps a change that could've been effective if made much earlier.

Still, up until the 82nd minute, before Colorado managed to convert a counterattack into a goal, it looked certain that Galaxy would pull off a win, or at the very worst a draw.

The scoreline doesn’t always reflect the quality of the teams on the pitch, but to say Galaxy were unlucky would be inaccurate.

This all begs the question, WWZD? What Would Zlatan Do?

I imagine Zlatan would say that a team must have players hungry for the goal, players who believe they can put the ball in the back of the net, not just build up the play. The reality is, so much of the current Galaxy system is designed around Zlatan as the finisher. Both Boateng and Antuna are unlikely to win aerial balls in the 18—that's not their job. And you would be hard pressed to find any of the Galaxy midfielders taking powerful, long-range shots like their captain. Zlatan's physicality, height, strength, and solid technique on the ball are indispensable.

Galaxy did 99% of the work to keep the ball in the attacking third, outpace their opponents, and create dangerous opportunities in the box. Unfortunately, that remaining 1%, the scoring part, happens to be what matters in the end.

All eyes will be on how Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto will adjust for their next game, also without Zlatan, on May 24.

Galaxy now sit fourth in the Western Conference, nine points behind leaders LAFC.


  • LA: Friday, May 24 at Orlando City SC

  • COL: Saturday, May 25 vs. Columbus Crew SC

Contact Christine Kwon at

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