Houston – The Los Angeles Galaxy got its wish. They were the trending topic across many social media platforms on Saturday night, but not for the reason they’d hoped. Criticisms of the current Galaxy regime were rampant and #Kleinout was a trending topic online. And after watching the Galaxy implode and fall apart on their visit against the Houston Dynamo on April 8, it is little wonder.
In a season rife with underperformance, LA took this to new levels in the 3-0 loss. The team showed no fight, desire, or spirit for much of the second half. It led to a flat performance in which two veterans lost their heads and assured the Galaxy lost the match.
LA Galaxy Post Match
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) April 9, 2023
Another “Emotional Blow”
The Galaxy did not start this game poorly. In fact, striker Dejan Joveljić had one of his better showings this season in the first half. It led to some decent Galaxy chances and the “emotional blow” Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney spoke about postgame.
With the Galaxy threatening, a ball was played out to Joveljić on the right wing. He gathered and went toward goal where Houston goalkeeper Steve Clark brought him down. The ball trickled to former Houston man Memo Rodríguez, who was bowled over by the Houston defense. Referee Alex Chilowicz pointed to the spot and Riqui Puig walked up to take the penalty. But before the Catalan could strike, Chilowicz went to VAR to review the play. It took Chilowicz just a moment to waive the penalty off. However, Vanney was much calmer about this decision than the one last week that went against LA vs. Seattle.
“There was some emotion involved when the penalty gets called, and then it gets overturned again. That was an emotional blow for this group that’s had three penalties that could have gone their way previously, and this is the fourth game where you think you’ve got something, and you don’t get something and that’s an emotional punch in the gut, but you’ve got to bounce back from it, and we have to fight through it,” Vanney said in a postmatch press conference.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy didn’t fight through it and about 10 minutes later, Houston captain Hector Herrera scored a sumptuous free kick to put Houston ahead 1-0.
Hector Herrera with the perfect angle on the free kick! 📐 pic.twitter.com/l5nFCJhF8G
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 9, 2023
Galaxy implode in Second Half
This season, the Galaxy has looked much brighter in the second half of games. Against Houston, the non-penalty call seemed to have robbed them of any fight. Not even the introduction of Galaxy captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández lifted the Galaxy.
Houston took advantage of the lackluster Galaxy press and spread the ball out into different areas through Herrera to Amine Bassi and Coco Carrasquilla. Carrasquilla in particular, stretched the Galaxy defense with his direct runs into space. It was his good work that drew the penalty for Houston on Martin Cáceres.
But before Bassi could take his penalty, Chilowicz went to VAR for the second time in the game. What followed can only be described as ridiculous. Cáceres, a veteran leader on the team, sprinted the length of the field to appeal to Chilowicz while he was looking at the VAR replay. Chilowicz turned and immediately hit Cáceres with his second yellow and the red that followed. It left the Galaxy with 10 men and even more deflated.
The Dynamo’s leading scorer Bassi took the penalty with calm to put Houston up 2-0. Things would only get worse.
Galaxy are fully a meme team. It's official. pic.twitter.com/C3Uxz8HmrA
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) April 9, 2023
From Bad to Worse
Down to 10 men and reeling, the Galaxy threw their last roll of the dice by bringing on Douglas Costa. Costa was lively against Seattle and Vanney was surely hoping he’d bring the Galaxy some attacking verve. Instead, the Brazilian was pedestrian. He was seen walking at numerous points during his appearance. Worse still, he and Lucas Calegari seemed to be on different wavelengths.
Their disconnect and the fact that LA was playing with 10 men, left huge gaps on the field. Houston would take advantage of this just eight minutes after their penalty goal.
The Galaxy had launched an attack that broke down with Chicharito. He stalled on the ball too long and Houston recovered and broke immediately. The Galaxy never had a chance in this transition.
Herrera was at the center again. He fed the ball to Forward Corey Baird, who found Bassi alone and unmarked in the center of the Galaxy box. Bassi took one touch to settle and rifled a strike into the lower right corner of goal for Houston’s third and the 3-0 in the 74th minute.
If it had ended there, it would have been a disappointing evening. What followed bordered on the obsene.
In the dying moments of the game, Costa one-upped Cáceres for foolishness. Costa was protesting a throw in on the touch line when he lost his head and grabbed Houston midfielder Brooklyn Raines from behind and around the neck and threw him to the ground. Chilowicz had no choice but to show Costa a direct red card. Not content, Costa took the ball and kicked it into the stands, which surely means a further ban. Vanney called the actions “unacceptable,” and it leaves the Galaxy shorthanded against a league leader next week.
“Today our emotions got the best of us, and that can’t happen. We have to get out there and fight every minute, that’s what we do when we play for this club and for our fans who fight for us, we fight for them, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. So that won’t happen again, ” the clearly-dejected Vanney stated.
All that to say that the Galaxy is in a tailspin. They are off to their worse start in club history and were in last place in the entire league for a moment on Saturday night. Only SKC’s season has kept the Galaxy off last place. And if things aren’t already bad, as mentioned above, the Galaxy host crosstown rivals LAFC next week in the latest edition of Él Tráfico.
On opposite sides of form, the match might be the death blow to the Galaxy’s season and we’re only seven games in. Vanney and LA might need to play the perfect game to get anything out of it. If the match against Houston was “from bad to worse,” the next Él Tráfico might set a new bar form hoe low the Galaxy can go.
This is the second time Douglas Costa has gotten himself a pointless red card at the very end of a match for the #LAGalaxy .
Not trying to sound like a complete Kevin Cabral apologist, but at least he tried and wanted to play. This is unacceptable.pic.twitter.com/IC2EZ4YKT3
— Eli Lesser (@thisweekinmls) April 9, 2023