Bruce Arena’s halftime “kick in the butt” inspires second half comeback from the LA Galaxy

Landon Donovan says he is “really proud” of the Galaxy’s come-from-behind win over the Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – If the LA Galaxy end their 2014 campaign by lifting MLS Cup, there’s no doubt that they will look at their remarkable two goal comeback on a rainy evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park as a turning point in their season.

Down 3-1 at the break to the Rapids, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena took his team to task at halftime demanding that they show some resolve after falling behind by two goals. In addition to a closed-door tongue-lashing, Arena called LA’s defensive performance “embarrassing” and stated that the second half would determine if LA “had a good team this season” during TWC SportsNet’s halftime show.

After Arena’s call to action, LA erased Colorado’s two-goal deficit before the 68th minute and then in the 80th minute, Landon Donovan broke through and gave the Galaxy their fourth goal and all three points.

"They responded,” Arena told reporters after the match. “We are fortunate that we got a few good goals and I think that once we got the second goal, [Colorado] were certainly under pressure. The third goal was obviously big and then I thought that we'd have a chance to get the fourth one. It was obviously a big second half for our team."

But what exactly did the Galaxy boss say to spark the rally?

Donovan refused to go into details about Arena’s halftime speech admitting that repeating any part of it could get him fined for explicit language, but he was quick to praise LA’s ability to fight back.

“There were some choice words that we absolutely deserved to hear. After what happened Saturday, and what happened in the first half, giving up seven goals in two games is unacceptable for this team. The first order of business was defensively to do the job,” said Donovan. “We were embarrassing defensively, all of us, from front to back [in the first half]. We know we’re good enough to always get chances in games.

“We wanted to get the second goal. We thought if the second goal came, we could keep pushing,” Donovan continued.  “I was really proud of us at 3-3, after that first half a lot of teams would have closed up shop and tried to get a point. That wasn’t enough for us; we wanted to win the game. We needed these three points.”

Added Omar Gonzalez, “Bruce Just started yelling us [at halftime] which is something that we all needed. I’m happy that he gave us a good kick in the butt.”

No one seemed to heed Arena’s words more than the team’s three Designated Players as all three ended the match with a goal and an assist, marking the first time that the trio had done so in a game. The comeback wasn’t purely a DP affair however as second half substitute Alan Gordon tormented Colorado defenders –particularly rookie Grant Van de Casteele—allowing space for the likes of Donovan, Keane and Gyasi Zardes to attack. 

“It’s important that everyone steps up. Certainly it’s good that we did well because that’s what we’re here. Omar scored a good goal and Landon made the difference on the left helping us get the fourth goal. Once we got that goal, we knew that we could set up shop and get the three points. We showed a lot of character and hopefully this can be a learning curve for us in terms of starting games and finishing them.”

However in a season of false dawns and inconsistent form, Keane is quickly to note that the Galaxy have plenty of work to do before the Colorado victory can be considered a true turning point.

“I hope that it is because it’s no good getting a good result [on Wednesday] and then just throwing away on Saturday against Vancouver,” Keane said.

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