Sunday, April 8, 2012

Galactic Aftertaste: Thoughts On LA's Loss To KC

Some things to take away from the Galaxy's 1-0 loss to Sporting KC

* Bar Has Been Lowered? The Galaxy did not give up much to Sporting KC. The hosts had maybe a few decent chances to score in the first half, one of which was a goal, and another of which Josh Saunders exquisitely dived and parried away. This seems to be a major step forward for the Galaxy, who had given up seven goals in league play thus far. Does that mean the Galaxy's expectations are lowered? Has the club gotten to the point where efforts like Saturday's are acceptable? Obviously the result is not and never will be acceptable but if players and coaches feel good about how things went on the field aside from the result itself then the club will be in for a long season.

* No Early Goal: Players have lamented their lack of finishing, and it seems that in every game the Galaxy has an early chance that just does not fall. AJ De La Garza told me as much this week about the ealry chances.

"If you look at every game we’ve had a chance to score first, we’ve had the better scoring chances first and we just haven’t capitalized. We kind of fall back and let them get one and we start breaking down. We’ve just got to finish our chances and defend them on the other side."

There's some truth to that. Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane combined for a chance very early in the loss to New England and if Keane buries that one, who knows? While the Galaxy have had a multitude of defensive breakdowns and tactical mistakes, the club ihas also suffered through a loss of confidence. Perhaps an early goal would give the team a shot of confidence. Then again, look at the DC United match. The Galaxy were up 3-0, comfortably heading towards a win when DC United scored late and then all of the sudden DC started buzzing and nearly got a second. An early goal would help for sure but until they get one, there's no guarantee that that will help turn things around.

* Still Salivating? The buzz around the Galaxy's strike force before the year began was loud.

"Robbie Keane and Edson Buddle, with Landon Donovan and David Beckham behind them? This team could score three or four goals a game!"

Well all that is gone. Keane has looked extremely pedestrian-like while Buddle is the Buddle of 2009. Not only is this not one of the best strike pairings in MLS history, it's not even one that is among the best right now. It's actually among the worst. Keane has three goals, Buddle one but their play has been stagnant and their partnership has not yielded a thing. It's really time to shake things up in that unit. Chad Barrett has had his chances - including a late one in the loss to KC - but it's time to give him a start. Or perhaps it's time to move Donovan up top, pair him with Keane and plug in his hole in the midfield. Either way, Buddle-Keane is not putting fear in anyone right now.

* Shell Shocked: The way the Galaxy is playing right now reminds of me of the way the club played for the last several months of the 2010 season. The Galaxy had an awesome start to the season but around July other teams had figured out their defense. Puerto Rico did a number on them in a CONCACAF Champions League qualifier and then others started to tear down their defense. Even though the team wound up winning the Supporters' Shield that year, the end result of the year was a bad 3-0 loss to FC Dallas.

The difference between then and now of course is that the Galaxy had amassed enough points to where they still cruised into the playoffs and walked away with hardware. This time around, the deer-in-headlights look the Galaxy has given is happening way too early for their own sake.

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