Three Points: Set piece proves to be decisive once again as the LA Galaxy fall 1-0 to the Portland Timbers

LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to LA’s 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers

PORTLAND, Ore. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano offers his Three Points to LA’s 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers. This was the third and final meeting of the year between the Galaxy and Timbers, with LA taking just one of a possible nine points with a 0-2-1 record against Portland.

DEFENSIVE SET PIECES AGAIN A MAJOR FACTOR FOR THE GALAXY

Defending set pieces –particularly corners—has been a major cause of concern for the LA Galaxy throughout the season and again, it was the difference in their 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon.

Despite a tidy showing defensively, the Galaxy conceded the game’s only goal in the 52nd minute when forward Maximiliano Urruti was able to flick a Will Johnson corner kick past LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo at the near post. Urruti’s goal was a textbook display of LA’s struggles on set plays as the Argentine forward was able to outmaneuver Galaxy right back Sean Franklin and score the sixth goal that LA have allowed from a corner this season.

Just how the Galaxy correct this issue remains a major point of contention for the team. In the end, it won’t be tactics that will cause the Galaxy to improve, but rather a stronger mentality and more defensive fortitude on such plays. If they don’t find a way to cure this ill then the team’s quest for a third title may be stopped in its tracks.

LA GALAXY STRUGGLE TO BREAK DOWN COMPACT TIMBERS DEFENSE

The LA Galaxy had all of their attacking weapons back on the field on Sunday, but the rain and a compact Timbers defense caused them to be shutout for just the sixth time in 30 games this season.

The wet and windy conditions did the Galaxy no favors as their build-up play was muddled with the team completing just 72.6% percent of their passes. Where the Galaxy were truly lacking was in the final third as the team completed just 61.6 percent of their passes in the attacking end as LA repeatedly saw attempts up field blocked or intercepted by the Timbers. Despite the environment and Portland’s defensive tactics, the Galaxy still created more scoring chances as the team amassed nine shots to Portland’s five.

LA’s best chance of the night came in the dying moments as Robbie Keane saw a header off a Landon Donovan freekick sail into the back of the net, only for the Irishman to be called offside by referee's assistant Eric Boria. Television replays showed that Keane’s shoulder was offside negating the goal and extending the Galaxy winless streak to four games in the league.

SUPPORTERS SHIELD DREAMS UP IN SMOKE?

The LA Galaxy have fought to stay in the conversation for the MLS Supporters’ Shield, but those hopes may have finally ended on the rain-swept pitch at JELD-WEN Field.

With loss to the Timbers and just four games remaining, the Galaxy sit in a tie with the Colorado Rapids for fourth place in the Western Conference. However. LA are now four points behind the Timbers for third place and six points behind Real Salt Lake for the best record in MLS. Avoiding the Knockout Round is top priority for the Galaxy and the team will be lifted by a schedule that will see them play their next three games at StubHub Center where the team is 10-2-4 in all regular season matches this year.

LA will look to claw their way closer to the top three in the Western Conference on Sunday when they open up a three game home stand against Chivas USA next Sunday, Oct. 6 before facing the Montreal Impact on Wednesday, Oct. 16 and the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, Oct. 20. Taking maximum points from those three games will be vital for the Galaxy if they are to manage to escape the Knockout Round, thought it is worth noting that the Galaxy came from behind to defeat Vancouver 2-1 in the Knockout Round last year en route to their second straight MLS Cup title.

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com