BRONX, NY (August 20, 2016) — The LA Galaxy lost to New York City FC 1–0 on Saturday afternoon at Yankees Stadium. Despite generating good chances off individual creation and defensive mistakes, the Galaxy continue to struggle finishing.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena shuffled the lineup again. With Gyasi Zardesfully healthy, Arena had his side in a 4–2–3–1. Baggio Husidic and Nigel de Jong were in the midfield. Steven Gerrard started in the No. 10 role, with Zardes and Giovani dos Santos on his wings. Robbie Keane returned to the starting lineup at center forward. With Brian Rowe injured, goalkeeperClement Diop made his MLS debut between the pipes.
City head coach Patrick Vieira was suspended from this match, but had his team in NYCFC’s typical 4–3–3. Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, and Andoni Iraola in the midfield. Frederic Brillant and Jefferson Mena started at center back. Jason Hernandez made a rare start at right back. David Villa started up top with Jack Harrison and Tommy McNamara on his wings.
New York City came out firing on all cylinders. LA took some time to adjust to the smaller field dimensions of Yankees Stadium. Their shape was a bit off and they overloaded one side of the field from time to time.
City had shouts for a handball in the 4th minute. After some good build up play, Lampard appeared to be brought down going for a pass by Jelle Van Damme. No foul was called.
Two minutes later, David Villa got his team on the scoreboard. A midfielder turnover unleashed Ronald Matarrita. The left back ran forward on goal and fired a low shot. Diop was able to get a foot to it, but it took a deflection. Villa was in front of goal and tapped it into the open net. Replay showed that Villa appeared to be off-sides, but the goal stood.
New York City continued to put pressure on the Galaxy, creating chances off quick turnovers and several free kicks. They forced youngster Diop to make several big saves. Diop was excellent coming off his line and making difficult saves throughout the match.
LA gradually came out of their shell as they got used to the surface. Their first good chance came in the 32nd minute. Gerrard took a shot from just outside the box. It got deflected and fell to Dos Santos, but goalkeeper Josh Saunderswas able to beat the attacker to it.
The Galaxy’s best chance came right before half time. De Jong took a bicycle kick on a recycled ball off a free kick, but Saunders made an excellent save on the play.
The half ended 1–0.
NYCFC came out very compact in the second half. They showed the game down, giving the Galaxy the ball and focusing on the counter. LA was unable to break the home side down, even with numbers forward.
Keane looked uncomfortable as the lone forward up top. He dropped back at times to help get and maintain possession, leaving no one up top to receive outlet passes.
Arena made three attacking substitutions in the second half, focusing on wide play. The visiting side’s best chance came in the 71st minute. SubstituteSebastian Lletget got some space on the wing and fired a cross into the box right in front of goal. Keane and Saunders both went up for it. Saunders misread the ball and missed, leaving Keane alone with a wide open goal. Keane, almost caught off guard by Saunders’s blunder, missed the header. It went out for a goal kick.
The Galaxy continued to push forward and create shooting opportunities, but could not find an equalizer. Emmanuel Boateng was excellent off the bench late on, trying to create a goal on his left wing side. The match ended 1–0.
LA are now winless in five straight matches. In at least three of those games, they created enough chances (high quality and/or high volume) but they could not finish. Even if Villa’s goal was off-sides, NYCFC were the better team and the Galaxy didn’t do enough to score.
Whether it’s been Keane, Dos Santos, Zardes, Gerrard, or even an Alan Gordon or Van Damme, no one can finish. The team seems to get down on themselves when they do enough in a game to earn a goal, but don’t. This sets them up for lethargic second halves, just like in this match.
The Galaxy need a goal. They need an early goal. They need it from their star attacking players. A blow out win where they’re up 3–0 at half time would be perfect. But right now, they just need one finish and possibly a lineup shake up.