The MLS season is already a month old, but the Galaxy saw a couple of things Saturday that no has seen all year.
The first was the return of defender Ashley Cole and forward Gyasi Zardes, who missed the first three games because of injury. Cole started and went 82 minutes while Zardes came off the bench and played the final 23 minutes.
They weren’t triumphant returns, however, because the other first the Galaxy (1-3) witnessed Saturday was Vancouver’s first win of the season, with Freddy Montero coming off the bench in the second half to score one goal and set up two others by Matias Laba as the Whitecaps rallied to a 4-2 win.
The Galaxy are now in 10th place in the 11-team Western Conference.
“We gave the game away,” said Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo, whose team led, 2-1, midway through the second half.
“We should have put it away. Instead we just gift them a second goal, it gives them life. And then just gift them a third goal. So we just gave the game away.”
Onalfo was especially upset about the go-ahead goal by Laba, which Galaxy midfielder Joao Pedro made possible with an errant pass into open space that Vancouver’s Cristian Techera intercepted.
“We literally just passed the ball to their player,” he said. “Good teams are going to punish you when you make errors like that.”
Jermaine Jones agreed.
“We made too many mistakes,” he said. “We have to discuss [this] when we come back to L.A. And we have to step it up. “I don’t say names, but inside [the team] we have to talk clear that we understand what we have to make better.”
The Whitecaps took advantage of some shaky Galaxy play to open the scoring, with Sheanon Williams going over the top of the defense to find a Techera up the left side.
With no defenders between Techera and the goal, Galaxy keeper Clement Diop charged well out of the 18-yard box to try to break up the chance, but Techera played the ball on a bounce, spun away from Diop and pushed a shot into the net 25 yards away.
The Galaxy answered quickly, with two Romain Alessandrini goals in a four-minute span, giving them a 2-1 lead. On the first, in the 26th minute, Vancouver keeper David Ousted stopped Alessandrini’s hard left-footed shot from the right wing but couldn’t control the short rebound, which bounced off the keeper and across the line. It was originally ruled an own goal before being credited to Alessandrini for his first MLS score.
There was no debate on the next one, with Alessandrini charging into the penalty area to one-time an Ema Boateng cross into the lower left-hand corner.
Diop nearly gave that one back with another aggressive play in the closing minutes of the half after Vancouver’s Erik Hurtado found even more space behind the Galaxy backline. Only this time Diop managed to break up the play with a sliding tackle that knocked Hurtado out of the game.
That wound up hurting the Galaxy more because Montero replaced Hurtado and scored the tying goal in the 66th minute, then assisted on Laba’s decisive score a minute later. Laba added a goal in the 87th minute.
“Everybody has to know his role on the field,” Jones complained afterward. “You try to make more, you see you make mistakes. And then we lose games.”
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles TimesJermaine Jones