The only thing that’s been consistent about the Galaxy’s season has been its inconsistency.
There was a three-game winless streak followed by a four-game unbeaten one. They’ve been shut out four times and posted four shutouts. In fact, it’s been such an up-and-down year, the Galaxy dropped from first to third in the Western Conference standings last weekend after winning a game.
The latest swing of the pendulum came Friday, when a second-half goal from Jeremy Ebobisse and another that ricocheted off a Galaxy defender lifted the San Jose Earthquakes to a 2-1 win before an announced crowd of 17,568 at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Victor Vázquez had the only goal for the exhausted Galaxy, who were playing for the third time in seven days and have gone a month without scoring multiple goals in a game.
Six times this season the Galaxy (11-8-2) have followed a loss with a win, but Friday’s result marked the first time they’ve lost two in a row, with both defeats coming at home. So while their 11 victories are tied for second in MLS, their eight losses are fourth-most.
And coach Greg Vanney made clear Friday that his patience has run out.
“Our defending in general is just not good enough. We give away too many chances. We give away too many goals. It’s on me and it’s going to change in the next three weeks,” said Vanney, a standout defender in his playing days. “We can’t keep conceding goals and chances at the rate we are and it’s a mentality.
“Our mentality is that we love to attack and we love to have the ball. But we cheat defensively and we rest and we don’t concentrate and we don’t do the little things that it takes to be a good defending team. It’s going to end or guys aren’t going to be on the field.”
Vanney has seen 17 players make their Galaxy debuts in his first 21 games as coach and hasn’t had his best 11 players on the field together all season.
Three of the Galaxy’s starters against San Jose weren’t even on the team at the beginning of the summer.
“We have guys who come to us in midseason trying to get fit. We’ve had guys coming out of injury trying to get fit. Guys who are in and out,” Vanney said. “That’s where consistency helps you out.”
The Galaxy dominated San Jose on the road seven weeks ago, but the Earthquakes (6-7-8) haven’t lost since, going 3-0-7 and conceding just eight goals since June.
And they proved tough to break down in a physical first half Friday.
On the other end San Jose, which took 12 shots in the opening 45 minutes, was denied three times, once by the crossbar, which stopped Luciano Abecasis’ bending left-footed shot, then twice by Galaxy keeper Jonathan Bond, who made two splendid saves on Ebobisse seconds apart in stoppage time.
The game opened up considerably in the second half with Bond, who finished with five saves, making two more spectacular stops in the second minute on Ebobisse and Tanner Beason, leaving a pair of Earthquakes players holding their heads in their hands in frustration and disbelief.
But Ebobisse finally got the ball by the Galaxy keeper in the 52nd minute, slipping his mark in the box and heading in a long cross from Abecasis across the front of the goal and in at the far post.
Vázquez equaled it 13 minutes later, bending a low corner kick off San Jose keeper JT Marcinkowski and into the side netting at the near post.
But the tie was also short-lived because six minutes later San Jose’s Eduardo Lopez deflected a shot from a difficult angle in off Niko Hamalainen, who was playing his third game for the Galaxy, for the game-winner.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.