PORTLAND, Oregon -- Although his LA Galaxy introduction came in Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Portland Timbers, there is plenty of hope that Designated Player signing Jonathan dos Santos can help brother Giovani and coach Sigi Schmid prevent the league’s most successful club from a rare postseason absence.
Jonathan got a run out in the second half, and while his 26-minute shift didn't provide immediate fireworks, his coach thought it was a good performance, considering the circumstances.
“Jonathan is a good player,” Schmid said, “but he hasn’t played a game since July 2 and hasn’t really trained on a regular basis.”
Even with the Galaxy's urgent need for points as they try to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, Schmid said rushing his new player out there could do far more harm than good.
“We don’t want to overplay him at this stage and all of a sudden there’s an injury and he’s out for a long time,” he said.
As Jonathan regains his fitness and gains a familiarity with a new league and team, the Galaxy are hoping to gradually break the midfielder in with the first team.
Romain Alessandrini made the trip to Portland but was not placed on the gameday 18 following a light workout out prior to the game. Assuming the winger can find his form and Jelle Van Damme can anchor a defense following his return from suspension, the Galaxy might have enough in the tank for a late-season run.
For Schmid, any sort of turnaround begins not with high-profile signings, but in the basics of the sport.
“We’re just not playing good soccer,” he said.
Schmid also expressed frustration at how tough it was for LA to get on the ball during the first half, and said their relative second-half improvement owed largely to a change in Portland's posture.
“Every time we put together four, five, six, seven pass combinations," he said, "then someone wasn’t as alert as they needed to be and all of a sudden the ball turned over."
Despite a third straight away loss and overall winless stretch of seven matches, Schmid said any late-season climb has to start with a simple focus on the next task ahead.
“We can’t worry. We can’t get caught up in points,” Schmid said. “We need to get caught up in playing better soccer.”