CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy, off to one of their poorest starts to the regular season with just two victories in eight games, appeared destined to add to their misery Saturday at StubHub Center.
They trailed the visiting Chicago Fire 2-0 at halftime and a crowd of 24,256 was growing restless. But the second half began and the five-time MLS Cup champions showed the kind of spirit that had been missing lately. Two goals in a nine-minute span of the second half, the first one by Dan Steres in the 56th minute and the other by Giovani Dos Santos in the 65th, salvaged a spirit-lifting and much-needed 2-2 tie.
“We became a team tonight,” head coach Curt Onalfo said. “That’s the Galaxy team you’ll see moving forward. It was a galvanizing moment for our group.”
Gyasi Zardes, who was sidelined earlier this year after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and has yet to score this season, said the difference in the two halves was simple.
“I think the mentality changed,” he said. “You can see by the second half we looked like a whole different team. “
He meant that figuratively and literally. Center back Jelle Van Damme, criticized by Onalfo for indifferent play, was substituted by Dave Romney in the 32nd minute and Ema Boateng came on for an injured Jermaine Jones, who suffered an apparent knee injury, 10 minutes later.
“The young guys that came on were magnificent,” veteran left back Ashley Cole said.
Zardes said Onalfo didn’t rant or rave at his players at halftime. He didn’t need to.
“You don’t have to yell to get through to us,” Zardes said. “We’re men; we know what’s at stake. It was just on us. He was positive at halftime and he’s always very motivating.
“This team really showed a lot of character. Once we came in here in the locker room at halftime we had a different mindset going out there for the second half. That’s the mindset we’re going to start having.”
Zardes said he found it difficult to talk about the Galaxy’s struggles that included a 252-minute scoreless streak at home that finally ended with Steres’ header off Roman Alessandrini’s corner kick.
“I haven’t been thinking about the last few games,” Zardes told reporters after the game. I’ve just been thinking about the Chicago game. This second half, we’re trying to build on that. That team you saw in the second half? That’s the team we’re trying to build on and move forward.
“We were out there fighting for each other. We were just pressing them. This is our home field, our home stadium, and I think we showed a lot of character in that second half.”