View From 108: (Long Form)
Bruce Arena, stated in a post game press conference that “(LA Galaxy) got beat soundly tonight. There’s no question about that – there’s no excuses.” And unfortunately, for all of us Galaxy fans he was 100% correct. While the Galaxy dominated most of the possession in the first half, they found themselves losing 2 – 0 at halftime due in part to lax defending in the box from what used to be the leagues best defense.
However, this defense has been far from great over the past 3 games. Maybe its been the shuffling of players on the back line that has somehow unsettled the careful choreography and chemistry that existed only 4 games ago? Or perhaps not having Omar Gonzalez in central defense really is a blow to how the gears and cogs turn inside the Galaxy defensive machine. But one thing is for certain, something is broken within the Galaxy and it will be up to senior players and team leadership to right this listing ship.
Lineup changes are nothing new to this team, as the Galaxy have at one point or another started 22 of the 24 players on the roster. So I patently reject the notion that Bruce Arena wasn’t taking this game seriously. In fact I wish he would have taken this game less seriously. At least then we would have an excuse for an uninspiring performance. The players he inserted into the lineup simply didn’t perform. And these were supposed to be the senior players.
Josh Saunders in goal this year has done a decent enough job in relief of Donovan Ricketts. We have to remember that this isn’t the Saunders of years prior. He has really flourished under goal keeping coach Ian Feuer and the senior Leadership of Ricketts. Saunder could probably be a starter for 3 or 4 MLS teams. I can’t blame him for 3 of those 4 goals. The first two goals were clearly defensive mistakes, as was the third goal that was taken from a great strike and went off the post and in. But the final goal should have been stopped.
So if you can only blame Saunders for the last goal did he really play that poorly? Would Ricketts have done better? I don’t know the answer to that question but you can’t blame Arena for playing Saunders. He should have performed… and so should have all the starters.
Berhalter was back in central defense with Leonardo. This is a combination that should work just fine. The Galaxy can’t simply rely on 11 starters and then when someone gets hurt throw someone who has very little game time experience into the fight. The entire defense let the team down and should have never allowed the first two goals.
The bottom line is that the Galaxy were able to pass out of their end with ease. They were also able to control the midfield for most of the game. But when it came time for finishing, the Galaxy had no answers. The service in from the sides, including Eddie Lewis and Sean Franklin was weak at best. Rarely did a ball find its way into a dangerous spot. Most crosses last night were behind the attacking players. The crosses seemed to be lacking height and precision. Most crosses were blocked outright and credit must be given to the Islanders defense for always putting pressure on the player providing the ball.
The Islanders also had a supreme amount of luck (Luck happens when you work hard and keep trying). Every strike on goal seemed to have resulted in a goal. Their ability to park nine or ten players behind the ball also worked in their favor. Everything went right for Puerto Rico. They got the go ahead goal early in the game, and then were able to double the lead just before halftime.Coming out of the break they absorbed pressure extremely well and counter attacked with precision and skill. Much like the Spain vs USA game, anytime you can get a team to chase the game from behind, you open up scoring opportunities on the opposite end.
My biggest issue from last night was the non existent play from our senior players. Ever since Donovan and Buddle returned from the World Cup, and the glory that followed, the team has taken on a shy persona. They are afraid to take the game to someone. They have forgotten how to score early and then wear an opponent out. They have simply taken their foot off the gas pedal. I don’t see the killer instinct or the looks of determination. Against the Islanders they looked bored and frustrated. Not what you expect from a top table team in Major League soccer. I want to see players be more selfish in the final third of the field. Where they are quick to pass, I want them to be quick to shoot. The Galaxy have lost their sense or urgency.
Something has to change Galaxy fans. Although Arena may have been pleased with the effort, I was not – “For the night our effort was good. Our execution was not.” In the end that effort and execution led to 4 Islander goals plus the own goal that brought the Galaxy to within 3 near the end of the game. So LA didn’t score a single goal in this game!
LA is going to need to find another striker option. As has been echoed by two good friends, perhaps Buddle, Gordon and Bowen are all too much alike. Especially Buddle and Gordon. Both are tall players who like to be the target just outside the box. Although Buddle is much better with his feet and head, Gordon allows Buddle to work off of him. This uses Buddle’s speed to advance the ball.
Bowen has the speed advantage over both Gordon and Buddle but lack the touch and finishing finesse. If you put them all together you would have one hell of a striker. But separately there is too much redundancy. Too much likeness.
In order for the Galaxy to prove that they belong in the CONCACAF Champions League they will have to travel to Puerto Rico and play on a difficult pitch against a team that can lose 3-0 and walk away with advancing. Now if the Galaxy can throw up a scoreline of 4-0, then all of the above statements go right out the window. Because in order to win they will need to play flawless, passionate, beautiful football. If the Galaxy can right the ship by that time, then we, as Galaxy fans, will have nothing to worry about.
As it stands now… Be worried about the Champions League, and be worried about the 2nd half of the season. No one wins the supporters shield by starting strong – but finishing poorly can certain lose you the shield, the playoffs and the cup!