Following a 4-2 defeat to Sporting Kansas City Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park, the LA Galaxy are three points below the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line in the Western Conference with 11 matches to play and enter a brief MLS All-Star Game break having won just once in their last six league matches.
It’s been a Groundhog Dog-like experience for head coach Greg Vanney, who has seen his young, but star-studded squad concede first and try to climb out of a deficit.
On Saturday, that deficit ballooned to three goals before the halftime whistle blew. The same thing happened in a 3-2 Cali Clasico home defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes on July 13 and in a 3-2 home loss to Minnesota United FC on June 29.
In fact, the Galaxy have conceded first in each of their five losses during their current slump. LA showed resolve to fight back, with Chicharito scoring a brace to pull within a goal before Daniel Salloi sealed SKC's home win in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time.
“Again, we get ourselves in the hole,” Vanney said. “There’s still one-third of the season left, but at the same time, we've got to stop being in this position and having this discussion. … In the first half, the game got away from us. Again, we do the same thing that we've done in some of these games that got away from us.”
For goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, now is the time to take a collective hard look in the mirror and hit the reset button.
“We just need to do the basics better, basically all over the pitch,” Bond said. “We need to lose the ball less. People need to stay in their positions and do the right thing, including myself. We just need to do the basics better. Usually, if you do the basics well, over 90 minutes, I think in this league you have a more than 50 percent chance of winning the game.”
Vanney said there is still belief in the group, especially with consecutive matches at Dignity Health Sports Park coming up next, beginning with a massive six-pointer against the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+) before hosting the Seattle Sounders a week later.
And that corresponds with the arrival of new signing Riqui Puig from Barcelona before the Secondary Transfer Window closed Thursday. The 22-year-old Spanish attacking midfielder could provide the spark needed to make a late-season playoff push.
“There’s surely belief in the group and there's certainly frustration in the group. At the same time, we have two home games, back-to-back now, and we’ve got to go home and defend our home turf,” Vanney said. “With two home games and you get two good results… Then you know how quickly things can evolve in MLS and move in a positive direction.”