Cali Clásico Calamity as Galaxy loses at home again 3-2

LA Galaxy striker, Dejan Joveljić, strikes a ball in the Cali Clásico on July 14, 2022
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CARSON, CAThe Los Angeles Galaxy’s woes from the weekend carried over into Wednesday night as L.A. lost to the league’s last-place team, San Jose Earthquakes 3-2 at home in the Cali Clásico. And despite their oldest rival’s form, it was the Galaxy’s other old foe this season, conceding first at home, that was their undoing again. 

Cali Clásico Calamity as Galaxy loses at home again 3-2

Both teams started well, with each having a few chances at goal early. It was San Jose who would make the pressure count, however.

Benji Kikanovic recovered a loose ball on the left side of the Galaxy box and turned between Julián Araujo and Séga Coulibaly. Unable to recover, Araujo clipped Kikanovic’s ankles for the foul and penalty. Earthquakes playmaker Cristian Espinoza stepped up confidently to dispatch the goal into the lower right corner of the net for a 1-0 scoreline in 13 minutes.

In a repeat moment of the last Friday’s El Tráfico in which the Galaxy conceded twice in two minutes, they outdid themselves against the Earthquakes by conceding again just a minute later.

Two quick goals, again

Los Angeles would get caught out in transition after a Coulibaly giveaway in the middle of the pitch that left them exposed. 

Espinoza intercepted Coulibaly’s loose pass and somehow found Jamiro Monteiro with a deflected pass. 

Monteiro’s deft first touch did well to put the Galaxy defense out of position. He had only to roll it to the left side of the box for Jeremy Ebobisse to pass home into the bottom right for the 2-0 San Jose lead. 

The Quakes added a third in 40 minutes when San Jose Defender Marcos Lopez ran through the Galaxy defense. 

Lopez started the play himself in San Jose’s own half, combining well with Kikanovic along the left. Kikanovic fed the still streaking Lopez in stride, who finished from the left side with a gorgeous strike from a tight angle to make it 3-0 before the half. 

“We shot ourselves in the foot with two goals within two minutes. It’s just not good enough, really,” a somber Derrick Williams expressed. “Third goal, I hold my hands up, one hundred percent. It caught me off guard. I’ve been sitting in the locker room now for the last half an hour wondering why I didn’t slide. And I still don’t know why. So I one hundred percent hold my hands up. Not good enough.” 

First half failings in the Cali Clásico

It meant the Galaxy would go into halftime at home trailing 3-0 yet again. 

The supporters have now witnessed 3-0 halftime home maulings this year at the hands of FC Dallas, Houston, Minnesota, and now San Jose. They’ve also conceded three goals against Seattle and LAFC.

And yet again, Galaxy players were met with a chorus of boos for their efforts. 

The boos might have spurred Los Angeles into action and forced signs of life in the 47th minute.

Substitute Kévin Cabral was played in behind the San Jose defense on the left, got to the byline, and cut the ball back to a waiting Dejan Joveljić. The Serbian Striker’s shot from the middle of the penalty area found the top corner of the net to make the score 3-1.

A good Cabral chance on 58 minutes was wasted when the ball fell to him in the six-yard box off a Williams header. The Frenchman could only muster a weak shot straight at San Jose Goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski.

Another fight back

LA Galaxy winger Douglas Costa on July 13, 2022
Photo Credit: Douglas Costa of the LA Galaxy on July 13, 2022.

Los Angeles would press for the goals all half that would get them back into the game. Douglas Costa, who came on as a second-half substitute, had probably his best match in a Galaxy shirt. 

The Brazilian showed glimpses of the player Los Angeles Head Coach Greg Vanney thought the Galaxy was buying by taking on defenders and getting close to scoring with a few left-footed long-range curling efforts. 

It was his pass in the 88-minute that would set up another dramatic finale. Costa played a long ball into the area that Joveljić chested down. The striker dribbled between two players before slamming a left-footed strike into the top left corner of the net to make the score 3-2. 

Joveljić is in fine form

Joveljić is now the fifth player in LA Galaxy history to score in five consecutive home matches in league play, joining Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robbie Keane, Carlos Ruiz, Welton, and Eduardo Hurtado. The Serbia native has three goals in only four league starts and has 11 goals and two assists in 21 appearances across all competitions. 

His seven goals in the last six games are tied for most in that span, but not even Joveljić could find the tying goal for the Galaxy. Four minutes of extra time weren’t enough for Los Angeles to score the equalizer. A terrible defensive first half could not be rescued, despite how much Joveljić and Costa might’ve tried to will it, and the game ended 3-2 in favor of the visitors.

Culprits in the Cali Clásico Calamity

Vanney pointed to the Galaxy, giving up two quick goals again, as the culprit for the latest loss.

“I think off the kickoff, in less than 60 seconds, we give a second one back, which is the second game in a row we’ve given up two goals back to back in less than two minutes. Which is… it’s unacceptable. It’s embarrassing. And it digs a hole for ourselves that makes the game very difficult,” a frustrated Vanney shared.

For Vanney, it was almost like repeating his comments postgame in El Tráfico. It was the Galaxy’s second loss in a row to an instate rival in as many games, and the second straight they conceded three goals. It was the sixth time this season, and the fourth at home, they’ve conceded three goals.

The loss stings, as San Jose had not won on the road all year, and is the first time they win back-to-back matches in Los Angeles in 94 editions of the Cali Clásico. The loss also means the Galaxy has only two wins in league play in the last two months. They now sit in seventh place, just a point above the playoff line

Wake up!

Galaxy Captain for the night, Víctor Vázquez, implored his teammates to “wake up.” He claimed the club’s mentality led to the goals in quick succession. 

“Playing at home again, against a rival… It’s San Jose. It’s a Clásico. We have to bring the right mentality, and we didn’t. We say it many times right now, and I think it’s the third time at home that in the halftime we are losing 3-0,” Vázquez explained. “This cannot happen anymore, and it’s on us. It’s not about the technical staff, it’s not about the fans. It’s about the players that are on the pitch, and we have to show much more.”

The veteran midfielder answered questions in Spanish about recent Los Angeles performances and what it means for potential playoff chances for a club that has missed the postseason too many times in past seasons. 

For Vázquez, it’s unthinkable that the Galaxy should miss the playoffs again. 

“It’s a Clásico and we are mad. We have to turn this around because we have another one on [Saturday] and the thing is… In the playoffs, they are getting really tight between the teams and if we want to make the playoffs this season we have to wake up right now.”

Looking ahead

Vázquez is right. 

A Galaxy loss this weekend would certainly push them below the playoff line for the first time this season and make three wins in a row. A two-month 11-game winless stretch around this point of the season last year doomed Los Angeles on Decision Day 2021

The good news is, there are still plenty of games and plenty of points to pick up.

The Galaxy will have their first chance to wake from their slumber when they travel to face second to last place, Colorado, on Saturday.

Photo Credit: LA Galaxy on July 13, 2022.