CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy refused to allow Jelle Van Damme's controversial first-half ejection serve as an excuse after their ill-tempered 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
Van Damme was giving his marching orders in the 34th minute after picking up two yellow cards in a three-minute span. The Belgian defender was incensed by referee Baldomero Toledo’s decisions as television replays seemed to show that Van Damme did not make contact with either Diego Chara or David Guzmán on the two plays that resulted in the bookings.
Via a pool reporter, Toledo provided his explanation for Van Damme’s sending off after the Galaxy’s defeat.
“Van Damme was given [the first] caution for dissent,” Toledo stated. “On the second caution, Van Damme attempted trip Guzmán which stopped a promising attack. avoided the contact and fell awkwardly.”
The 10-men Galaxy rebounded in the second half as the attack led by Sebastian Lletget and Romain Alessandrini had numerous chances to find the equalizer. However, it was not to be after Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson made a pair of top-class saves to give the Timbers all three points.
Although the plays will be the subject of much discussion in the week ahead, Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo admitted his team needed to be better on the day.
“I haven’t seen the plays. I haven’t been able to see the replays. I was told that the players dove, so that’s unfortunate. But he did get a yellow card for dissent, and we can prevent that,” Onalfo told reporters after the match. “We dug ourselves a hole, regardless of if the referee made a bad judgment or not. We can’t put ourselves in that situation. We’re at home. We need points. And there in the 34th minute, we’re playing with ten men.”
One week after the Galaxy saw two of their players given one game suspensions due to decisions by the league’s disciplinary body, the team is hopeful that Van Damme’s cautions will be reviewed in time to allow the captain to play next week.
“[The tackles] didn’t look that bad. They looked like break-up counter plays. I can see why [Toledo] probably thought they were fouls,” defender Daniel Steres said. “It sounds like it was nothing on [Van Damme] and hopefully there’s a chance we can get him back quicker than we expect.”