All signs were pointing to defeat for the LA Galaxy Saturday night at StubHub. Down 2-1, being outplayed most of the night by the Houston Dynamo, and missing star players Jermaine Jones, Jelle Van Damme, Giovani dos Santos. That would have been the case if the Galaxy did not have the biggest star of all, Romain Alessandrini.
In the 4th minute of stoppage time Bradford Jamieson hit a perfect low cross that Alessandrini was able to slide and steer home. There were questions of offside on the play but as Alessandrini said after the game, “We don’t care!”
It was a much needed point for the Galaxy who are looking to climb up the Western Conference standings as they hold some games in hand against the teams in front of them. This is the first of 3 MLS games this week for the Galaxy so it’s important they do not drop any more points. If the playoffs started today, the Galaxy would be on the outside looking in. However, they are not in a terrible position considering how poorly they were to start the season.
Mauro Manotas’ goal for the Dynamo opened the game in the 22nd minute. Manotas was the Dynamo’s most dangerous player all night and gave the inexperienced Galaxy defenders fits. However, in the 35th minute a beautifully weighted ball by Alessandrini sprung Emmanuel Boateng through. Boateng rounded the keeper and tucked his shot in the goal for the 1-1. In the 74th minute Alberth Elis embarked on a wonderful solo run and lifted the ball over the on-rushing Clement Diop in goal to make it 2-1 Dynamo. The Dynamo could not hold on as Alessandrini tied it in the 90+4 minute for the final, 2-2.
Even with a depleted squad, the Galaxy were able to hold off a Western Conference foe. Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo said after the game,
“You could see that we were pretty sloppy at the start, you could see that we were a little bit out of rhythm with all of the changes that we had to make and then we gave up an untimely goal. But you saw how we react when we get scored on, we find ways to get back into the game.”
Onalfo was able to plug in and play so much youth in the squad with the Galaxy still able to get the point. However, Alessandrini cautioned and kept things in perspective “We need to win at home”.
Alessandrini was spectacular. His goal and assist brought his tally up to a team leading 7 and 6 respectively. Hugely important on the night obviously, but his work rate was even more impressive. Chasing down loose balls, tracking back in the midfield, connecting the lines offensively. In a game where the Galaxy struggled all night long, Alessandrini was one of the few bright spots.
Ashley Cole. “He looks like a player in his late twenties” Onalfo would say after the match. Cole took on a huge responsibility on a night where the oldest player in his back-line was 24 years old. Cole also made one of his patented goal saving plays which prompted Onalfo in saying, “I think he’s playing some of the best soccer that he has since coming to MLS.”
Let us not pretend that the Galaxy won this game. The way it played out, it felt like a win, however the Galaxy were extremely fortunate to come out of the game with that point. The offense was out of rhythm with Jack McInerney making his first start of the season and Gyasi Zardes moved over to the right wing. Both were largely invisible on the night and that has to change as they travel to play the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.
Diop did not have his best game despite getting some slight praise from Onalfo, “He had some very good moments in the game. He’s a very athletic keeper and he’s still growing and gaining experience. I thought he made some good saves tonight.” He parried the ball strait onto Manotas for the first goal, and allowed Elis to dink the ball over him for the second. With Brian Rowe still out through injury, the Galaxy are hoping Diop can grow leaps and bounds fast.
LA Galaxy vs Colorado Rapids, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Colorado. Wednesday June 21st, 6:00 p.m. PST
*All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise stated