When the final whistle blew, the LA Galaxy crowd let out a sigh of relief as well as a raucous cheer.
The scoreboard read 2-1, victory at last! The Galaxy only managed to win one out of their last 11 games to close out the 2017 season. So to say players and fans needed this victory would be an understatement.
Two goals in the span of two minutes were enough for the Galaxy to thwart off the Portland Timbers despite the Timbers pulling one goal back in the second half.
Defense is Key
Only a year ago the Galaxy allowed 67 goals against in the MLS regular season. If the Galaxy are hoping to turn things around this season it needs to start with the defense. Not simply defenders, but midfielders and forwards funneling and closing down space as well.
The Timbers beat the Galaxy in both match-ups last season. However, the Galaxy proved that this is a new season and they intend on making StubHub a fortress again. Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid said after the game “I was happy with our team effort, our willingness to battle for each other and play for each other I thought was outstanding.” There is little doubt that Schmid is lauding to his players defensive assignments.
Perry Kitchen in particular stood out as a rock in the midfield, a natural leader, and enforcer that the Galaxy wished they had a season ago. Galaxy’s new defenders Rolf Feltscher and Jorgen Skjelvik were solid in the back and veterans Michael Ciani and Ashley Cole shut down the Timbers attack for the most part. When they didn’t, new goalkeeper David Bingham came up with timely saves. Schmid said, “I thought our defensive work was good. I thought Bingham was solid in goal, I thought Ciani and Jorgen were good together, that was fantastic.”
Galaxy captain Cole heaped more praise on the defense “I think the two centerbacks have a good understanding and it’s a work in progress.” In other words, they were good and are only going to get better.
Ola Kamara marked his debut with the Galaxy with the opening goal in the 32nd minute after a beautiful header pass by Feltscher set him up right in front of the net. In the locker room Kamara mentioned that scoring the goal was a fantastic feeling, as well as a good feeling playing in front of a sold out crowd.
Romain Alessandrini also opened his account in the 34th minute after a mix up in the Timbers backline. Alessandrini was able to sneak in and win the ball off Liam Ridgewell after some contact only to see the initial shot bounce off the post. Luckily for the Galaxy, the ball bounced right back to Alessandrini and he made no mistake the second time.
Unfortunately the Galaxy let in an avoidable goal that gave the Timbers life in the second half. Fanendo Adi slipped in Sebastian Blanco who drilled a ball between Bingham’s legs and into the net.
The Galaxy nearly shot themselves in the foot with many missed chances. Kamara agreed, “We had 10 big chances, or 5 , 6, or 7 big chances that we could have maybe gone up to 3 or 4-0.” Cole mirrored the sentiment “I think in the first half, we should have been two or three up at the least.”
However, the Galaxy were able to hold on for all three points.
Sunday March 11th, vs NYCFC. 2:00 p.m. Yankee Stadium.