LA Galaxy Post Match Talking Points, April 1; Galaxy Loss “Unacceptable”

LA Galaxy Defender Jalen Neal Has Been the Silver Lining in an Otherwise Disappointing Season for the Galaxy. (Photo Credit: LA Galaxy)
LA Galaxy Defender Jalen Neal has been the silver lining in an otherwise disappointing season for the Galaxy. (Photo Credit: LA Galaxy)
Los Angeles Galaxy Center Back Jalen Neal celebrates scoring the first goal of his MLS career. His goal and play were the bright spots in another Galaxy loss, as they fell 2-1 at home to the Seattle Sounders on April 1, 2023. (Photo Credit: LA Galaxy)

Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Galaxy had already slumped to their worst start in club history in 2023. Their already turbulent season took another hit on Saturday, April 1, 2023, after losing 2-1 at home against the Seattle Sounders. The result leaves them in 12th place in the Western Conference and with a -3 goal differential through five games. And while many have started to ring the alarm bell in LA, should they be? The latest Galaxy loss is broken down below.

LA Galaxy Post Match

Another Wasted First Half

Against Seattle, the Galaxy played some of the best soccer of their season. Although that bar has been relatively low so far, they started brightly as they did in the scoreless draw against Portland. And just like against Portland, they failed to convert their chances. But unlike the Timbers, Seattle was surgical in making the Galaxy pay for their profligacy. 

With the Galaxy on the front foot, a moment in transition was all the Sounders needed to open the scoring. A speculative ball found Léo Chú on the left flank. His low cross found Jordan Morris in the six-yard box, who converted from close range with the tap-in. Their linkup, the fifth time in the last two games, gave Seattle the 1-0 lead in the 21-minute. Chú was back at it 14 minutes later.

Having taken advantage of a Lucas Calegari injury on the left wing, Chú drove into the heart of the Galaxy final third with aplomb. His low-driven shot from just outside the 18-yard box beat Galaxy Goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann at his far post for the 2-0 Seattle lead. Klinsmann probably should’ve done better on the shot, but Referee Allen Chapman should’ve stopped the game for the on-field injury as well.

It would not be the last time Chapman’s decisions would have “unacceptable” repercussions on the match.

READ MORE: 2023 LA Galaxy Season Preview: Riqui Shoots for MVP

Galaxy Go Two Up Top

With the Galaxy two goals down, Vanney brought on Preston Judd as a second striker. LA switched to a 3-5-2 with Judd and Dejan Joveljić up top. And it sparked the attack into life. Particularly after the 60th minute, as the legs on both sides got tired. The pressure on Seattle Keeper Stefan Frei’s goal was constant, and it finally paid off in the 63-minute. LA Galaxy Center Back Jalen Neal took advantage of a rebound off a Frei save to score his first career MLS goal. Crucially, it also brought the Galaxy back into the game and gave them hope. After Neal’s goal, it felt almost inevitable that LA would equalize. Only Chapman had other ideas and the LA was forced to choke down a bitter 2-1 defeat.

The Galaxy finished with 28 shots, eight shots on goal, and forced Seattle into blocking 11 more. The way Judd and Joveljić played off of each other stretched Seattle’s back line for the entire second half. And since both strikers have different natural tendencies, defenses have to worry about both in different ways.

“I think we both bring a different dynamic. He’s really good going in, checking-in for the balls, and like Greg [Vanney] said, I am a little more comfortable running in behind and getting behind the defense and bringing that physicality,” Judd said of his partnership with Joveljić. “I think it compliments each other well and I think it shows our chemistry is pretty well up there.”

For Vanney, it might be the way forward for an offense that hasn’t been producing much. Once LA’s coach brought in Douglas Costa and Jonathan Pérez to complement the strike pairing, Seattle was stretched even further. It brought about the polemic “handball” moment in the game’s stoppage time and an epic Vanney tirade.

Did The Galaxy Get Robbed?

With the Galaxy throwing everything at the Sounders’ goal in the dying moments, Costa tried to send in a cross from the left wing. What followed was the moment of the game.

Costa’s cross struck the bottom of Seattle Defender Nouhou Tolo’s elbow. While Nouhou had his arms back, he noticeably lifts his shoulders in an attempt at making himself bigger.  Under the laws of the game, Nouhou’s positioning and posture cannot be considered “natural.” And Vanney agreed the call was “unacceptable.”

“Three games in a row these guys don’t know what handball is. It’s getting to be obscene. Honestly. It’s ridiculous. And the game is about margins. They have VAR. They have the ability… they’re the only entity in the entire game that gets a redo. None of us else gets a redo. They get a redo. And it’s three times they can’t get it right. That’s their job,” Vanney said furiously.

“This, right now, we’re grinding. We’re in the margins and deserve better. We deserve better. We controlled this game. And we controlled the last game, and we deserve better. Yes, we need to execute better. That’s on us. But what we deserve, we should get. That’s better. Those three… were not fair. And that’s frustrating. And I’m fighting for my guys. My guys are sitting in there, dumbfounded that they can’t get a call. And that’s why I’m sitting in here saying that it’s unacceptable by them. Unacceptable.”

For a team that’s winless and desperate for results, these obvious errors make this Galaxy loss hurt even more.

Defending the Badge

The silver lining in this debacle of a season so far is Jalen Neal. The 19-year-old is doing it on both sides of the ball. He scored his first MLS goal on Saturday and the young defender helped keep the Seattle attack somewhat under control. Additionally, he was the one trying to rally Galaxy fans in the game’s final minutes. Neal easily wins this week’s Defending the Badge and probably season MVP so far. If Neal can keep displaying this form, the Galaxy has a chance at their first win next week away against Houston on Saturday, April 8.