The way things went for the Los Angeles Galaxy from March through June, it seemed nothing would stand in the club’s way for the remainder of the season.
But the month of July, the famed dog days of summer, proved to be a tough stretch for the Galaxy, who didn't come out unscathed. While their MLS record is still strong, LA were bounced from the US Open Cup and all but ousted from the CONCACAF Champions League.
Entering Sunday’s match against Chicago, the Galaxy are possibly at the lowest point of the season to date. But that may not be a bad thing, Galaxy forward Edson Buddle said.
“It puts you in check,” Buddle said. “The game always does that to you when you get a little relaxed or you get a tough game or you lose at home. Those [tough stretches] kind of put things in perspective for you.”
After a scoreless draw in Toronto on June 26, the Galaxy held a dominant 10-1-2 record and had given up all of four goals at the time. In July, though, the Galaxy went 2-3-1 in all competitions, had no shutouts and allowed 12 goals while scoring eight.
Perhaps complacency has set in, or maybe other teams have figured out the vulnerable spots in the Galaxy’s formation. Whatever the case, this stretch is a positive in that it’s happening in July and not in October.
“You need that, especially at this time,” Buddle said. “It could have happened later on in the season, but to happen at midseason is probably a good thing.”
The Galaxy's latest setback was a 4-1 loss to Puerto Rico in the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round match on Tuesday. The Galaxy gave up the most goals they’ve conceded since Sept.2009, lost by their widest margin this season, and gave up two first-half goals for the first time all year.
The match, though, was a bit of a perfect storm for Puerto Rico, and might be written off as such, Buddle said.
“Being out there, it felt like everything they did was right – loose balls bounced right to them, they cleared the ball and it went right to them, they shot the ball and it went right in,” he said. “It was kind of a perfect game for them.”
The Galaxy will need a four-goal victory in Puerto Rico next Wednesday to have a chance of advancing to the group stage of the Champions League. But before then, the club will have to play Chicago at the Home Depot Center.
While the club still holds a nine-point edge over Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference table, a continued run of poor form could help RSL make a dent in that position.
What also helped get the Galaxy to the top of the table was timely breaks for the club, and now that the ball is bouncing the other way, Buddle said the Galaxy must make breaks for themselves.
“Especially with how the season’s been going, it seems we’ve been getting more breaks. I guess we have to push the game sometimes. When things aren’t going our way, we have to fight through those times,” Buddle said. “We just have to put more energy and fight through bad times like that.”