Short-handed Galaxy have enough to beat FC Dallas

LA Galaxy defender Nick DePuy, left, midfielder Sacha Kljestan, right, and FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira, center, battle for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer game Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Galaxy defender Nick DePuy, left, midfielder Sacha Kljestan, right, and FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira, center, battle for the ball during the second half on Wednesday in Carson. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Galaxy had one clear mission heading into Wednesday’s game with FC Dallas: make sure no one got hurt.

Winning? Well, that would be nice too. But after entering the day with a list of unavailable players almost as long as the starting lineup, it was safety first.

Turns out the Galaxy were able to make both things work, emerging seemingly unscathed and with a victory, with first-half goals from French newcomers Rayan Raveloson and Kévin Cabral sparking the short-handed team to a 3-1 victory before an announced crowd of 16,453 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The result also ended a two-game losing streak at home and lifted the Galaxy (8-4-0) into third in the Supporters’ Shield standings.

Just as important, however, was the fact that everyone walked off the field under their own power.

That hasn’t always been the case lately.

The Galaxy lost Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who shares the league’s scoring lead, to a calf injury before their last game even started.

And center back Sega Coulibaly didn’t last much longer, coming out before halftime with an abductor injury.

As a result, the 10 players the Galaxy were missing Wednesday may have been better than the 10 they started.

In addition to Hernández and Coulibaly, starting center backs Daniel Steres (hamstring) and Derrick Williams (suspension) were out with injuries while starting midfielders Efraín Álvarez and Jonathan dos Santos are on international duty.

Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget kicks the ball.
Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget kicks the ball during the first half against FC Dallas on Wednesday in Carson. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

In their place the Galaxy bench consisted of seven players with a combined 33 games of MLS experience.

And with the exception of Williams, who will return from a six-game suspension for the team’s next game July 17, it may be later rather than sooner before the Galaxy return to anything approaching full strength — bad news for a team that will finish July by playing four games in 14 days.

In the meantime, Galaxy coach Greg Vanney is adapting.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever put the same lineup on the field twice,” he said. “That’s what an MLS season is about. You’ve got to get something from everybody and that’s why it’s important to keep everybody in the mix and keep everybody ready to play. Which is great for just the team morale and also for the guys who we’re going to need as the year continues.”

Vanney started Raveloson, a midfielder, at center back Wednesday, and Raveloson rewarded him with his first MLS goal in the 17th minute of his second game.

Cabral doubled the margin 10 minutes later with his first MLS goal, although Sebastian Lletget did most of the hard work, battling Dallas’ Edwin Cerrillo to the end line before slipping the ball into the middle of box for an unmarked Cabral, who had an easy right-footed finish.

“I was happy for him. I know how much he wanted that one,” Vanney said.

The assist was the team-leading third of the season for Lletget, who left after the game to join the U.S. national team in Kansas City, Kan.

It’s unlikely he’ll be back until early August, leaving Vanney with another big hole to fill.

The Galaxy’s second-half score came from Ethan Zubak, who picked up his first goal of the season off a 55-yard Nick DePuy pass six minutes after the intermission.

Franco Jara came off the Dallas bench to spoil Jonathan Bond’s shutout in the 71st minute but that did little to spoil the night for the Galaxy, whose three goals and two-goal margin of victory matched season highs.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.