By Brian Kowalski
Carson, Calif. -- Following a season-opening loss to FC Dallas, the Galaxy looked to rebound with their first win of the 2017 MLS season against the Portland Timbers at home. No easy task, considering that LA entered the game without key players Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Rogers, Ashley Cole, and Jermaine Jones. In a tough Western Conference, the Galaxy cannot afford to get too far behind this early in the season.
Unfortunately, LA fell behind in just the 8th minute, as the Timbers scored to go up 1-0. After an LA attack, Portland quickly countered as Diego Chara received the ball and headed it over to Diego Valeri. With only Nathan Smith back to defend, LA’s defense was compromised. Valeri dribbled towards goal, drew Smith his way, and then easily passed to Chara for the simple tap-in goal to give Portland the lead.
The first half would bring more bad news for Los Angeles, as Jelle Van Damme received a yellow card in the 30th minute of play. With the game becoming physical between both sides, David Guzman dribbled past centerfield and Van Damme attempted to steal the ball. It appeared that Guzman embellished his fall and that Van Damme did not make contact with him. With Guzman rolling on the ground, head referee Baldomero Toledo gave Van Damme another yellow card, sending him out of the game and leaving LA with just 10 men for the rest of the match.
The Galaxy’s scoring chances throughout the game were minimal, and the Galaxy’s new head coach, Curt Onalfo, brought in Jose Villarreal and Emmanuel Boateng for an offensive boost after Giovani dos Santos was absent in the second half with a leg injury.
Galaxy defender Rafael Garcia helped keep his squad at only a 1-0 deficit when Portland had a clear breakaway as the Timbers' Fanendo Adi headed towards goal with Clement Diop left to defend on his own. Garcia sprinted back to help Diop block multiple shot attempts, which seemed to fire up the team and its fans.
In the 83rd minute, Romain Alessandrini took the free-kick for LA following a foul on Portland. Alessandrini’s shot just missed the mark and was probably LA’s best chance to score in the game.
“You’re always going to deal with adversity through the course of the season," said Onalfo after the Galaxy's 1-0 loss. "You don’t want to draw it up where it’s this early. I actually look at it differently. We’ll be better for this. We got some players some minutes and they performed well. That helps create depth to our team. We were down five players today. That’s never easy.”
LA will look to get their first win of the season when they play Real Salt Lake next Saturday on the road.