Galaxy looking for better effort Saturday

Having won just once in their last five league games, Galaxy look for answers to improve perfor

Chris Birchall vs KC

Photo Credit: 
German Alegria

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CARSON, Calif. -- The LA
Galaxy have had their share of defeats lately, including three in four games
this month, but last Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards at The Home
Depot Center arguably was the worst of the bunch.

“I wish we didn’t lose in
that fashion,” Edson Buddle said, “but we just have to forget about it.”

It’s one thing to lose on a
lucky goal or be beaten by brilliant goalkeeping, but when you’ve been
“outcompeted,” as Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena put it on Saturday night, it’s
time to be a little more concerned than usual.

Arena used that seldom-used
term following Saturday’s loss which sliced the Galaxy’s lead in the Western
Conference to three points over Real
Salt Lake
and two points over the Columbus Crew in the race for the Supporters Shield.
The Galaxy finished August with a 1-3-0 record for the month and face another
critical game on Saturday in Chicago.

Arena admitted the loss to
the Wizards was more troubling than a number of others that have seen the
Galaxy go 3-5-2 over their last 10 games after an impressive 10-0-2 start to
the season.

“It’s disturbing. It was not
a good performance on our part,” he said after practice on Monday. “I think
those things never surprise you in MLS. I think we’re getting the best shot of
every team we play, and that requires that we be, game in and game out, ready
to compete. And if we’re not, we’re going to have problems.”

Sharing Arena’s sentiment,
and using his same choice of words, Chris Birchall was troubled by his team’s
performance on Saturday night.

“Being outcompeted, where
you’re not winning your individual battles, (is a serious problem)” said the
Trinidadian midfielder who will miss Saturday’s game against the Fire through
suspension. “You can’t always say the effort is there when you’re getting
outcompeted. I think it was more alarming than the other (losses), and we just
have to put it behind us.

“When you’re been all season
at the top of the league, sometimes not even playing that well and still up
there, you probably take it for granted that even if we lose we’re still going
to be up there. Maybe there’s a bit of complacency, I don’t know.

“We just need a game where
we play well and get the confidence again, like we did in New York.”

Birchall was referring to a
1-0 victory over the Red Bulls on Aug. 14, generally recognized as
the Galaxy’s best performance in the last month and a half. Unfortunately, that
win was followed by two of the Galaxy’s more distressing losses, 1-0 in San Jose and 2-0 to the
Wizards.

“We need a performance where
we play hard, grind out a one-nil win and put points on the table,” he said.
“We need something.”

Defender Todd Dunivant is
confident the Galaxy will respond this weekend, thanks to the presence of so
many veterans and their desire to avoid a repeat performance.

“Guys know that’s not good
enough,” he said. “That didn’t get us to where we are. This is a difficult
period; every year you’re going to go through periods like this and hopefully
we’re at the end of it.”

Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts
said the Galaxy must remember what got them to the top of the table, what he
called “the little things.” He also said this is not the time to make
ill-advised decisions, whether they involve personnel or strategy.

“It’s no time to panic,” he
said. “We’re going to have weeks like this. The road to the championship is
never easy.

Arena would not reveal what
alterations he will make to his lineup Saturday in Chicago, but did say, “The worst thing to do
would be not making any changes.”

When asked what the Galaxy
have to do to snap out of their recent funk, the answer he gave was simple.

“Win the next game.”