Los Angeles Times

Victory elusive for Galaxy

Scoreless draw with Union stirs more questions about L.A.’s inconsiste­nt play.

- GALAXY 0 PHILADELPH­IA 0 By Kevin Baxter kevin.baxter@latimes.com Twitter: @kbaxter11

The Galaxy played a game they couldn’t afford to lose Saturday. So they didn’t. But they didn’t win, either, battling the Philadelph­ia Union to a scoreless draw in a match that was an unattracti­ve as it was frustratin­g for both sides.

For the Union, the tie extended their winless streak to 16 games dating to August. For the Galaxy, the result was just a small step forward in the franchise’s slowest start to a season since 2003.

Whether that step marks the start of a turnaround or simply a momentary pause in their suffering, it’s too early to tell. But coach Curt Onalfo clearly intended to shake things up, remaking a lineup that had already become stale less than two months into the season.

With Gyasi Zardes out because of an illness, Gio dos Santos started as a lone striker up front with midfielder Jermaine Jones assuming a playmaker role behind him. On defense, rookie Bradley Diallo made his second career MLS start and his first at right back.

That paid only partial dividends, though, because while the Galaxy (2-5-1) were aggressive from the start, they had little to show for it.

Their best chance in a ponderous first half was a left-footed Joao Pedro shot from about 35 yards that struck the right post, ricocheted across the goal and hit the left post, then bounded harmlessly away as Pedro grabbed his head in disbelief.

In the second half, the Galaxy had three promising opportunit­ies in a sevenminut­e span shortly after the intermissi­on. But they couldn’t finish any of them with Jones missing high on a driving header on the first, Romain Alessandri­ni arriving a step too late to gather a poor clearance at the near post on the second, and a left-footed shot by Ema Boateng hanging up just long enough for Philadelph­ia keeper Andre Blake to get under it on the third.

Before it was over the Galaxy had outshot Philadelph­ia, 13-8. They also had a huge edge in possession (62.9%) and outpassed the Union by a substantia­l margin. But none of that led to a goal.

As a result, the Galaxy’s uneven play in the season’s first eight games has raised more questions than answers for a team that is still searching for an identity under its new coach.

Are the Galaxy the scrappy, aggressive team that seized the momentum early against the Union? Or the sloppy one that given up the first goal in six of their seven previous games?

Are they the united team that smothered short-handed sides from Real Salt Lake and Montreal in their first two wins? Or the confused, disjointed one that feuded with their coach and each other in a one-sided loss to Seattle last week?

None of that got any clearer Saturday. Although the Galaxy were creative and fluid at times, at others they lacked chemistry and cohesion. Still, they managed to grind out a point — not a huge reward maybe, but a big improvemen­t over last week.

“Nothing’s been lost right now,” Jones said before the game. “We’ve lost games, of course, and we’re not happy about that. But the season is still progressin­g and we can still come back.”

How far back? That’s still to be determined. But the schedule doesn’t get any easier from here for a Galaxy team whose only seven points this season have come against winless teams.

 ?? Chris Carlson Associated Press ?? BRIAN ROWE of the Galaxy makes a second-half save against Philadelph­ia on Saturday night. L.A. outshot Philadelph­ia, 13-8.
Chris Carlson Associated Press BRIAN ROWE of the Galaxy makes a second-half save against Philadelph­ia on Saturday night. L.A. outshot Philadelph­ia, 13-8.

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