CARSON, Calif. – For all of July and into August, the Los Angeles Galaxy struggled defensively. The squad that held most of the rest of the league scoreless suddenly stopped earning shutouts.
After a successful 90 minutes in New York, though, those good early-season feelings are back.
“The first half of the season was great,” Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall said at training on Tuesday. “We were just going on the road, playing as a team and winning. Even sometimes we weren’t playing well, we were still working hard and picking up points. It seemed like we got back to our winning ways and back to the way it was at the beginning of the season.”
Los Angeles picked up another road shutout in beating New York 1-0. While it was the club’s first road shutout – and first shutout anywhere – since June 26, the Galaxy now have eight road shutouts.
On Saturday, the Galaxy will have a chance to make that nine as the club will head north to face San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Taking away a full three points from New York was crucial in order to boost confidence and turn the page on what was a rough defensive stretch for the club.
“It was important because I think for a few weeks now we haven’t played to our capabilities and we wanted to get back on form," Birchall said. "We had some heavy defeats, Chicago – even though we got back into the game – it was a hazy 20 minutes where we conceded three and Puerto Rico at home. We knew we could play, and when we play like that as a team, and everyone is on form, we’re a very good team.”
The victory was a morale-booster for several reasons. Aside from picking up a shutout and silencing the hype surrounding the suddenly en vogue Red Bulls, the defense was able to thwart a strong forward pairing. But it only goes so far, Birchall insisted.
“It brings confidence especially with the back two, Gregg [Berhalter] and Omar [Gonzalez]," he said. "They dealt with Thierry [Henry] and [Juan Pablo] Ángel very well and the midfield did well, and the forwards – everyone did well.
"Everyone can take confidence to their different aspects of their play and take it into Saturday, but it’s a completely different game. We did well, we played well that day but it doesn’t mean we’re going to play well on Saturday. Hopefully we do and at worst we hope to come out with at least a point.”
The Galaxy’s latest game memory will be the victory in New York, but their latest memory of San Jose is a 2-2 draw in which Landon Donovan scored at the death to help the Galaxy salvage a point.
“San Jose gave us a tough game here a few weeks ago and we didn’t play too well, but we managed to score in the last minute and salvage a point," Birchall said. "But like I said, we can only take confidence away from the win in New York. You’ve just got to go with confidence and try and concrete a place in the playoffs.”