LA hope poor defensive play ignites August turnaround
The LA Galaxy hadn't lost by four goals in more than four years – unless you include the friendly three days earlier. One counted and the other didn't, but both offered a reminder that LA have not mopped up all of their troubles.
The Seattle Sounders, like Real Madrid before them, sliced up the Galaxy backline with incredible ease en route to Sunday's 4-0 rout at CenturyLink Field.
“Anything good [to take out of it]? Absolutely not,” right back A.J. DeLaGarza (above) told MLSsoccer.com. “Sometimes there are [losses] you take something out of it, but to lose, 4-0 – on goals where we're not marked in, not all together on the same page – that's troublesome.”
LA's defense was shredded five times in Thursday's defeat to Real Madrid, and the same problems – inadequate marking, failure to track runners, lax pressure in critical moments – made the Sounders' task simple Sunday.
There was plenty of blame to go around: left back Bryan Gaul and midfielder Marcelo Sarvas' partnership on Mauro Rosales' overlap to set up Eddie Johnson's sixth-minute opener wasn't good enough, and Johnson slipped too easily between center backs David Júnior Lopes and Omar Gonzalez. Lopes overcommitted on Fredy Montero to leave Alex Caskey one-on-one with Josh Saunders, and Gaul didn't react after his goalkeeper won the challenge, enabling Montero to double the advantage.
In addition, the Galaxy's backline, pushed up to the midfield line, couldn't match Eddie Johnson's pace on the third goal as Caskey buried his 30-yard empty-netter. Just one simple pass through the midfield dissolved LA's defense one final time, and the back line – with Gaul again out of position – was frozen on Marc Burch's ball behind for Andy Rose to finish.
Defending was poor everywhere, but it was especially noticeable at the back.
“We're the last line of defense, so a lot is thrown on our shoulders,” DeLaGarza said. “We have to deal with the cross to Eddie Johnson in the sixth [minute], we have to deal with the ball played along the back line for the fourth goal. It's not just midfield, and it's not just one player. It's all of us collectively.”
The Galaxy currently lack chemistry at the back, as Gonzalez has just recently returned from a torn knee ligament and is working on building a defensive relationship with Lopes. DeLaGarza just shifted from the middle to the right. And Gaul, a rookie, was filling in for Todd Dunivant, who could return from a calf injury next Sunday when Chivas USA host LA in another edition of the SuperClasico.
LA's worst loss last year, a 3-0 defeat at Portland on August 3, occurred around the same point in the season, and the Galaxy responded with some of their best soccer en route to the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup titles. The hope is something good comes out of this one, too.
“We turned things around last year after [Portland and] it lit a fire under us,” DeLaGarza said. “We need the same response. Last year, we were in first place. This year, we're in fifth. If this doesn't [light] a fire under us, I don't know what will.”