Finishing touch back for LA after slow start in front of net
CARSON, Calif. – If any aspect of the LA Galaxy was going to be a work-in-progress in early 2012, simple math would have indicated a defense hit by the loss of MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez.
But that wasn’t necessarily how it worked out. Through their first three games, LA put away just three chances, a stretch that saw the club eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League.
But after closing out their challenging early-season slate of games with a three-goal performance against D.C. United last weekend, the Galaxy's offense merely cleaned things up to make things right.
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"I think we’ve played well this year," head coach Bruce Arena told reporters earlier this week. "We’ve just missed a couple of key plays. It’s a fine line, but we generated a lot of chances in the four official games we have played this year."
The Galaxy matched their goal production from their first three games of the year (Toronto FC helped them out with an own-goal) against United. Robbie Keane hit the back of the net twice on Sunday and, along with Marcelo Sarvas’ first Galaxy goal, the club has now had five different players score goals.
While there may not have been reason to panic, there was cause for concern as LA missed several opportunities in losses against Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC that may have flipped the script from loss to victory.
Keane, for example, had two chances against TFC from close range but was unable to put them away. Against D.C. United, though, Keane showed that those missed chances were just that, and not indicative of any wide-ranging problem.
"He’s always going to score goals, he doesn’t go too long without scoring," Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. "I know he felt bad the other night, missing that chance we had against Toronto."
Perhaps since the season is still young, and games against RSL and Toronto FC were high-profile, the Galaxy's inability to put the ball in the back of the net was magnified. Against Toronto FC, scoring issues cost the Galaxy an opportunity to advance to the semifinal phase of the CONCACAF Champions League.
TFC scored first in the second leg, forcing LA to respond. The Reds put one in the back of their own net, accounting for the Galaxy's lone goal on the night, but when Toronto FC regained the lead, ultimately for good, the Galaxy could not answer.
And although that loss – and the end of their continental dream – hurt, the Galaxy said they never worried about the lack of production.
"No, because we were creating chances," midfielder David Beckham said. "I know that we've done that in the last few games and we've not put them away, but when we have the quality that we have up front, at some point they're going to go in."