ATLANTA – One of the LA Galaxy’s most recurring problems this season felled them yet again on Wednesday evening against Atlanta United.
Los Angeles enjoyed a fast start and nearly scored the opener inside the first 15 minutes before an Atlanta counterattack goal by Josef Martinez put the home team up for good en route to a 4-0 win. Conceding first has been a consistent issue for the Galaxy throughout the season and has often led to defeats with the team a disheartening 2-15-2 when allowing the first goal.
When that first goal goes against them, the Galaxy admit that they find themselves stuck and unable to react.
“Once that first goal goes in, it’s ‘this is happening again,’” Dave Romney said postgame. “There’s that amount of doubt that sets in, I guess. It’s happened time and time again, and it’s not good enough collectively.”
Romney continued, “It is mentally draining when you are playing well, and then you get scored on. Strong teams stay focused and stay in attack mode. I think once that first goal goes in, the confidence goes down, and you start forcing things, you get impatient or whatever it may be, but we have to do everything better, collectively, when that first goal gets conceded, if we concede first.”
After Martinez put the expansion side on the board, Atlanta quickly added to their lead with Yamil Asad notching twice more in seven minutes to put the game out of reach. Things went from bad to worse in the 39th minute when Jermaine Jones was sent off for a hard foul on Hector Villalba. Just six minutes later, Miguel Almirón capitalized on another counter to complete the scoring in the first half.
Frustrated by their dire opening 45 minutes, head coach Sigi Schmid challenged his team at halftime declaring the second half to be “a new game.” His squad responded keeping Atlanta off the board with an organized defensive effort, but the damage was complete.
“It was that seven-minute stretch where we conceded those three goals. We lost the game in seven minutes,” Romney said. “That’s soccer. If you can’t focus for 90 minutes, then it’s not good enough.”
Head coach Sigi Schmid agreed, “Our concentration and our focus needs to be better. When we defend, all 11 players that need to defend, but we need to be focused and concentrated. We showed in the second half playing a man down that we could defend. Guys were focused. If we were to play that same way in the first half, we would be in a different position right now.”