CARSON, Calif. – It wasn’t so much losing last Saturday’s game to the San Jose Earthquakes that still troubles LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.
It’s how they lost it.
The game was just four minutes old when San Jose’s Bobby Convey sent a long pass toward teammate Chris Wondolowski deep in the Galaxy penalty area. The Galaxy’s A.J. DeLaGarza and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts were in position to clear the ball away, but inexplicably let it go. Wondolowski pounced on the loose ball and scored the game’s lone goal.
“It bothers me,” Arena said after Monday’s practice as the team prepared for Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Wizards at The Home Depot Center. “I think it’s a game where at the worst we leave with a point. That bothers me.
“Gift-wrapping the game, giving away a goal. I don’t want to take any credit away from San Jose, but it’s as bad a goal as we can give up.
We helped manufacture a goal for them.”
Arena said he wasn’t overly concerned about any potential fallout from the loss, which dropped the Galaxy to 13-4-4, still the best record in MLS – “I wouldn’t think so, but you never know,” he said – but DeLaGarza, who started for the second game in a row in place of injured left back Todd Dunivant, said he still thinks about the blunder and admitted he has had a tough time putting it behind him.
“I’ve watched the replay plenty of times. Saw a nice picture of it, too,” he said with a painful grin. “I’m sure we’ll watch it again and we’ll sort it out.”
DeLaGarza said he still doesn’t know what went wrong on the game-changing play.
“One mistake cost us and I was a little bit part of that,” he said.
“I think nine times out of 10 we clear that. We just have to communicate better … it took a little skip on the right, past ‘D’ (Ricketts) and they score. Nine times out of 10 we get that, and unfortunately it cost us.
“We dominated that game. That’s what happens to us when we win, we might be the team that gets dominated but we win. That’s what we were doing early in the season, like in Columbus. We won (2-0 on May 29) but they say they dominated.
“It doesn’t matter who dominates, it’s who wins at the end of the day. We didn’t get that victory.”
Midfielder Chris Klein said the game was particularly frustrating.
“You look at that mistake and think that’s what cost us the game,” he said. “But we definitely had opportunities to tie it up and go from there.
“It’s a game on the road maybe we should have gotten a point out of and maybe we should have won, but we didn’t. Those are games we can’t let down; we have to prove we’re going to be a consistent team. On a day when you give up a mistake, you gotta get a draw out of that game.”
Added defender Sean Franklin, “That’s how a lot of our losses have been this year … we’ve made some kind of mental mistakes and given up goals in the first five minutes. That’s not like our team to do that, and we know that.
“It was a tough one to swallow.”