CARSON, Calif – The LA Galaxy find themselves in a position they haven't been in since 2001, losing twice in a row to begin the season. Not only that, but it’s the first time in franchise history that the Galaxy – MLS originals – have started out the season with two straight losses at home.
The situation isn’t fazing head coach Curt Onalfo, who liked the drive he saw from his club despite Sunday's shorthanded 1-0 loss to Portland – the Timbers' first away victory against an MLS opponent since they won MLS Cup 2015.
“The effort and the way that they worked – they were warriors,” Onalfo said after the game. “Sebastian Lletget led by example, I thought he was excellent, I thought he was the best player on the field in every aspect.
“The play that draws a lot of attention for me is when he had to run back basically almost the entire field to help make sure we didn’t concede that second goal and keep us in the game."
There’s no doubting the effort put out by Lletget, who found himself operating out of the middle of the pitch as a creator and as a play stopper with the Galaxy missing Jermaine Jones due to suspension, Jelle Van Damme for all but 34 minutes due to a controversial pair of yellow cards just after the half-hour mark, and Giovani dos Santos in the second half due to hamstring tightness.
The Galaxy will know more on dos Santos’ situation after he’s evaluated on Monday morning, but it’s not a good sign for a club already missing several key starters. Barring a successful appeal by the team, Van Damme will be unavailable for the Galaxy's next match on March 18 against Real Salt Lake.
Van Damme was not made available after the match, but the defender did take the time to retweet comments from both the official LA Galaxy account and the account of a Galaxy supporters group which called into question the fairness of the calls.
There was a pool report issued from referee Baldomero Toledo which shed some light on the yellow cards Van Damme received. The first was for dissent after Van Damme was called for a foul at midfield. The second was given for “stopping a promising attack (by attempting to trip).”
“Van Damme attempted to trip Guzman, which stopped a promising attack,” Toledo wrote. “Guzman avoided the contact and fell awkwardly.”
Although he’s yet to get his first MLS win since returning to the league’s head coaching ranks, Onalfo put a positive spin on his team’s effort.
“Winning games is hard work,” Onalfo said. “You position yourself to make a play. I’m very pleased and proud of the effort the guys put in and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”