Struggling Galaxy will be missing Ibrahimovic against streaking Seattle
Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget doesn’t need a schedule to remind him his team has hit the skids, winning just one of its last five games.
Yet, the Galaxy have picked up points in 11 of their last 12 starts, going 5-1-6 over that span. They are in a tie for fourth in the Western Conference standings.
“We’re not in a bad spot at all,” said Lletget, who has scored in consecutive games for the first time in more than three years. “We sort of have to shift our focus to that more than what we lost.”
That may be tough given that Saturday’s game in Seattle will be the Galaxy’s fourth in 14 days, and they won’t be nearly at full strength.
When the team’s flight took off from Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday afternoon, five starters weren’t on it. Defender Michael Ciani and designated players Romain Alessandrini, Gio dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos all missed the trip with injuries. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who leads the team with 15 goals and seven assists, stayed home rather than risk re-injuring his surgically repaired right knee on Seattle’s unforgiving turf field.
That will force the Galaxy to field a makeshift lineup against the surging Sounders, winners of five in a row and unbeaten in eight straight, both league highs.
“It’s all over the field,” forward Ola Kamara said of the injuries. “That’s part of the game. You just have to make the best out of it.”
The Galaxy have made a bad situation worse by giving up the tying or losing goal in the 82nd minute or later in each of their last three games. Take away those goals and the Galaxy would be atop the conference standings.
“The last two are pretty frustrating. They’re ties that feel like losses,” midfielder Chris Pontius said.
Late defensive breakdowns have repeatedly cost the Galaxy, who have scored 48 goals, the second most in the league, but have allowed 42. Six times the Galaxy have failed to a win a game they led entering the second half
“It’s very irritating because we make basic things look very difficult. This should not happen,” Ibrahimovic said.
Fixing the problem hasn’t been as easy as identifying it.
“There’s many things. Being soft is one,” Ibrahimovic added. “Everybody talks about the playoffs. The way we play now we don’t even deserve [the] playoffs.”
Ibrahimovic’s absence this weekend will make it even more difficult to turn things around. The Swedish superstar has scored 10 goals and added four assists in his last 10 games. The Galaxy haven’t lost a match he’s played in since May.
The Galaxy better find a solution quick because just one of their next seven games is against a team that entered the weekend with a losing record.
“This is the crunch time of the season,” captain Ashley Cole said. “We have to start winning games.”
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