Soccer

Galaxy and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are held in check in loss to Earthquakes

New England Revolution v Los Angeles Galaxy
The Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, shown at left during a June 2 game against New England, had a tough night Friday as he was held without a shot in his team’s 3-1 home loss to San Jose.
(Katharine Lotze / Getty Images)

No MLS team has relied as heavily on one player as the Galaxy have relied on Zlatan Ibrahimovic this season.

Of the team’s first 27 goals, Ibrahimovic has 13. In the 10 games in which he’s scored, the Galaxy won eight; in the 10 games in which he hasn’t, the team won three.

That has generally made things pretty simple for opponents: Stop Ibrahimovic and you stop the Galaxy, a strategy the San Jose Earthquakes worked to perfection Friday, holding Ibrahimovic without a shot in a 3-1 win that spoiled a career night for David Bingham, the Galaxy goalkeeper. His career-high 14 saves were the only thing that kept the game from becoming the blowout it should have been.

San Jose outshot the Galaxy 32-5 — putting 16 of those shots on goal, 12 in the second half alone. The Quakes had a comfortable lead in time of possession and took nine more corner kicks in what was, statistically, the most lopsided game of the season for the Galaxy.

But if you were looking for explanations afterward, the Galaxy locker room was the wrong place to go. Ibrahimovic, the team captain, left the stadium without talking, as did Jonathan dos Santos and Bingham.

And though coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto did speak, he had more questions than answers.

“We started the game knowing what we had to do. Even at halftime, when we were winning, in that moment, we were saying, ‘What’s happening?’ I wonder why,” he said. “Now is very soon to analyze the game.”

When he does begin his analysis, Schelotto might want to start in the midfield, where the Galaxy were especially bad. And the defense basically abandoned Bingham on San Jose’s three second-half goals, with Vako Qazaishvili and Danny Hoesen scoring three minutes apart midway through the second half to turn a one-goal deficit into a lead. Jackson Yueill then sealed the win in the 85th minute, standing unmolested in the middle of a quartet of Galaxy defenders and volleying home the rebound of a Qazaishvili shot.

Defender Rolf Feltscher scored the Galaxy’s only goal in the second minute. His shot off the crossbar in the 23rd minute was the only other one the team put on goal all night.

“I think we had a bad game today,” Schelotto said. “Everything we talk[ed] during the week for to do today we did that in the first 15 or 20 minutes, and then the game was for San Jose.”

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The Galaxy (11-8-1), shut out by San Jose two weeks ago at Stanford Stadium, started well with Feltscher giving them a 1-0 lead on the team’s quickest goal of the season. The score came off an in-swinging corner kick from Dos Santos that dipped into the six-yard box for Feltscher, who stuck out his right foot and deflected the ball in for his first goal of the season.

San Jose (9-7-4) kept Bingham busy all night but couldn’t get the ball by him until the 61st minute when Qazaishvili turned Dos Santos around to create space at the top of the box, then slotted a low right-footed shot just inside the left post. Three minutes later, he helped set up the go-ahead goal, sending a pass from the edge of the penalty area to Hoesen, who banged it in from the center of the box.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com | Twitter: @kbaxter11