CARSON, Calif. – After starting the season with six successive home victories, just one shy of the club record set in Major League Soccer's inaugural season, the LA Galaxy have dropped three in a row at Dignity Health Sports Park, and haven't looked good while doing so.
The New England Revolution tore up the Galaxy with an impressive counterattack Sunday night, pulling out a 2-1 triumph in new head coach (and former LA boss) Bruce Arena's return to the field, and stunning a side that had bounced back from successive home losses with back-to-back road victories at Orlando and Sporting Kansas City.
“Maybe this is who we are, to be realistic,” suggested Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose stunning bicycle kick in the 84th minute gave LA hope. “We have ups and downs, and reality will catch you sooner or later. So we just have to do our best and fight for it.”
The Galaxy (9-6-1) had far more of the ball, and territorial superiority, and were clearly the better team the first 35 minutes, but they struggled to penetrate after that. Losing Sebastian Lletget to hamstring irritation in the first 10 minutes didn't help, and New England (4-8-4) exploited gaps between LA's lines.
“Their counterattacks killed us,” midfield general Jonathan dos Santos said in Spanish. “We were sloppy defensively. Every time they would get the ball and start a counter, it almost ended in a goal.
“Every time they had chance, they were able to come at us too easy. I have to help fix this, because the midfield is a very important part of the team. If the midfield is playing well, the team will play better.”
Ibrahimovic, whose goal was his 11th of the year, called the loss “very disappointing.”
“And very irritating, also,” he added. “Because it was not a difficult game, and I think everybody was underperforming, and when you do that, it's difficult to get the outcome like we want.”
The usually talkative Ibrahimovic didn't want to discuss his spectacular goal. Asked about it, he was somewhat cryptic.
“Maybe I should stop,” he said. “Maybe this is message I should stop.”
Later he called the game one “to forget as soon as possible, even if you score goal of the year. This is to forget very fast.”
Dos Santos said the Galaxy were weary after a difficult stretch of the season. LA have played 10 games in the past six weeks, including three midweek games, road matches against Minnesota, Columbus and Sporting KC.
“It's true that in the last three games I haven't been 100 percent,” he said. “Due to a little bit of everything, the team is not 100 percent. The legs are tired, the travel – but they are not excuses. At the end of the day, we are professionals, and we know that's how the game is.
“We are not at 100 percent, or else would be able to beat anybody, and I think that is what is happening. If we were healthy, we would all be able to run together, put away our chances and defend together. The team is going to be OK. These are the types of games that teach you what you need to work on in order to make it to the top.”
Schelotto is giving the team a few days off before they begin preparations for their June 12 U.S. Open Cup opener against surprising amateurs Orange County FC.
“We don't have training, we are free for a couple of days,” Ibrahimovic said. “Maybe it's better like that. Let's go and recover and take rest and come back here with fresh mind and do better.”