The look of disbelief on Dave Romney’s face summed up the Galaxy’s frustrations.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Romney sent a header to the left side of the goal, only to see Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted get his right hand on it at the goal post. The scoring chance capped an extended possession in Vancouver’s end, and even a heavy second-half push couldn’t get the Galaxy on the board in a 1-0 loss on a balmy Wednesday night at StubHub Center.
Tony Tchani headed in a free kick by Christian Bolanos in the 64th minute for the game’s only goal. It came 13 minutes after Ousted’s save in a momentum tilt that doomed the Galaxy to their sixth home loss in what was supposed to be a prime chance at victory.
They fell to a league-worst 1-6-3 at home.
“It’s tough, especially home games,” Jermaine Jones said. “I think we don’t play really [the way we should]. Maybe it’s the pressure that you have to show something, here especially. People want to see special stuff.
“Whether you can play without pressure, I don’t know.”
Jones was one of two players the Galaxy returned from injury, against a team that was missing five players to international obligations and two others to injury.
Jones was inserted in the second half in his first MLS game since May 6, and midfielder Daniel Steres started in his first MLS game since May 27.
Pele van Anholt, a Dutch right back signed this month, was on the bench but did not make his Galaxy debut.
Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo said he liked Steres’ performance and that they took a step toward a full roster “but now we’ve got to get them all on the same page again, and getting some continuity.”
Onalfo made a curious tweak in the starting lineup when he had defender Ashley Cole play midfield. Cole played midfield in the second half of a July 11 game against San Jose but, outside of that, has long been a defender. He played 107 games at left back for the England national team, the most all time.
The return of Steres, though, allowed Onalfo to move Cole and put out his best starting 11 players, notably Romney.
“He’s a great soccer player, you can play him anywhere,” Onalfo said of Cole. “I thought he did a good job helping us keep the ball [and] dictating the game.”
The changes and additions to the Galaxy lineup amounted to quality chances but no goals in the first half. Jack McBean’s header sailed high in the second minute, and a left-footed try by Romain Alessandrini was barely deflected by Ousted in the 21st minute.
The road gets steeper for the Galaxy. Midfielder Joao Pedro was given a yellow card late in the second half and will miss the Galaxy’s next game Saturday at the New England Revolution.
The urgency wasn’t lost on Jones.
“Of course you have to win,” Jones said. “Everybody knows the second half of the season is always important, when you play for playoff spots.”