CARSON, Calif. – “We failed on both ends of the field, no questions about it.”
The words of Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena on the play of his club in their 3-2 loss to the Chicago Fire said it all.
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After three months of having everything go their way, the Galaxy have now fallen into a midseason slide, with several flaws laid bare in their disappointing 3-2 loss at home on Sunday. The loss was the club’s first at home in MLS play and the first time that the club has given up three goals or more this season.
The vaunted Galaxy defense, which was the key to the side’s success early in the season, disappeared on Sunday, allowing three goals within the first 20 minutes. This, coupled with the four goals conceded to the Puerto Rico Islanders on Tuesday, has left the club wondering what’s gone wrong.
“I’m sick of giving up goals and I’m sick of not winning at home,” said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. “Maybe our attitude isn’t right and maybe we’re focusing on things off the field and not our jobs, but we’re going to have to learn and learn quickly.”
In addition to their woes on the defensive side of the ball, the club’s renowned finishing has dried up of late. In the past two matches, LA have created chances in front of goal, chances that were converted in the first part of the season; however, goals have come at a premium in recent weeks.
In the last two matches, stars Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle have failed to convert from the run of play, a fact that is clearly wearing on the team.
“Our technical aspects have been poor because we should have been scoring goals from the run of play,” said Arena. “We could have scored five goals tonight and we didn’t.”
As the Galaxy search for answers on both sides of the ball after a pair of wake-up-call losses, one topic for consideration is the Galaxy’s own lead in the standings. At 40 points, LA are six ahead of their closest competitors, Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew.
“Players can get a little complacent when they look at the standings and I think that some of our guys have done that recently,” said Arena. “When you forget about the things that got you to where you are, it’s going to be harder to get back, there’s nothing good about this in my view, no matter if we’ve got 40 points or 15.”
Having surrendered nine goals in their past three games and a amassing a 1-3-1 record in all competitions over the last five, the mood was understandably somber in the Galaxy locker room after the Chicago loss.
However, hope remains that the club has found the proper time to fall into a run of poor form. They will get a chance to redeem themselves on Wednesday when they travel to Puerto Rico, needing a big result against the Islanders to overcome their 4-1 aggregate deficit in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“Thankfully this run has come in August instead of in October,” said Gregg Berhalter. “But we’re like a beaten dog right now, and it’s time to get aggressive and not care about failing and just go out and do it.”