SANDY, Utah — With the calendar running out for the LA Galaxy on its 2018 playoff aspirations, they hope a 6-2 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday clarifies what they need to do in the remainder of the regular season.
Find their confidence. Embrace the challenge of making the playoffs. And climb the figurative hill which just got a lot bigger after Saturday.
After the Labor Day weekend results, including the Vancouver Whitecaps' 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, the Galaxy have fallen all the way down to 8th place in the West. They haven’t won a game since July, are struggling to find consistency on defense, or even in the lineup, and don’t have the confidence to weather a tough break.
“We were right there on the 2-2 with a header that goes off the post,” LA Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid said. “They go up 3-1 and there goes our confidence and things went worse from then.”
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LA midfielder Servando Carrasco agreed, “We should have responded a lot better at 3-1 and we didn’t.”
They can’t afford to do the same for the rest of their season.
“We just have a hill to climb, what our team needs to do now is accept the challenge,” Schmid said.
The bright spots were the return of Romain Alessandrini and Jonathan dos Santos to the pitch. Each scored with their first touches, but those little sparks weren’t enough to solve the bigger problems.
“It wasn’t good enough. At this point of the season, we can’t make mistakes, so it’s frustrating,” the Galaxy's Perry Kitchen said. “They were better than us tonight. They were much better and we just couldn’t figure it out.”
While there were plenty of defensive lowlights to go around, it wasn’t just the backline responsible for wide open spaces RSL took advantage of.
“It’s a full team effort. It’s not just the guys in the back,” Kitchen said. “We have two weeks to figure it out. The reality is we still have a shot. If we win four of six, we’re at 50 points. There’s a lot of work ahead. We have to believe. We have to fight.”
The mounting pressure of poor performances and precious few games left can ratchet up the focus on problems rather than solutions. The Galaxy have two weeks to prepare for their next game and while the pressure won’t be any less the next time they enter the pitch, they might be able to embrace it a little better.
“We have to embrace that pressure,” Carrasco said. “We are the Galaxy. The expectation is to be in the playoffs. We know that we have a huge challenge.”