CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s recent defensive struggles have been much-discussed and well-documented. But they haven’t exactly been an unstoppable force on offense, either.
Omar Gonzalez’s game-tying goal in extra time last Saturday against the Chicago Fire snapped a scoreless streak that had reached 350 minutes. Prior to that goal, the last one for Los Angeles was by Edson Buddle in the 10th minute of a 1-0 victory at New York on Aug. 14.
The streak was the third-longest in MLS this season and the second-longest in club history. Only the 402-minute dry spell of the Kansas City Wizards and the 352 minutes by D.C. United were longer stretches without a goal in 2010. The Galaxy’s record, by the way, for the longest time without a goal was 525 minutes from April 29 to June 3 of the 2006 season.
Landon Donovan, who missed a penalty kick against the Fire, hasn’t scored in more than a month. The last time he found the back of the net was in the 81st minute of a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Fire on Aug. 1 when he converted the second of his two penalty kicks in that game.
“Honestly, I hadn’t thought about that until you said it,” he said about his barren spell in front of goal. “I guess, and I always say this, we don’t worry so much about not scoring. We worry about creating chances.
“I think we’ve had lots and lots of chances over the last few weeks.
"I think back to that Chicago game we lost, the Kansas City game we lost (2-0), the San Jose game we lost (1-0) and even in Chicago this time. We have had a lot of chances to score goals. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. At the beginning of the year, everything was going in. Maybe it’s kind of evening out now.”
GOING THE DISTANCE
The 1-1 draw with the Fire was an eventful one for veteran midfielder Dema Kovalenko, who got into a number of heated exchanges with his counterparts on the Fire, Logan Pause and John Thorrington. Pause was booked for a rough foul on the 33-year-old while Thorrington and Kovalenko had to be separated following a challenge near midfield late in the first half.
With Chris Birchall suspended for yellow card accumulation, Kovalenko assumed the role of sitting in front of the Galaxy’s back four. After missing much of the first half of the season with a quad strain and seeing only limited time over the past two months, Kovalenko admitted it felt good to get a full 90 minutes under his belt.
“It felt good,” he said. “I was a little tired in the end, which is normal. But I’m glad I stayed in and finished the game. I’m still a little bit behind because I missed so much time, but I’m a competitor and I’m going to find a way to fight and get myself going.
“I can’t wait until this weekend.”
Saturday’s game against the Crew starts a three-game home stretch for the Galaxy, a stretch that takes the club into the final month of the season and could go a long way toward helping the Galaxy finish atop the Western Conference for the second straight season. After playing the Eastern Conference leaders, LA will then host D.C. United (Sept. 18) and the New York Red Bulls (Sept. 24) to round out the homestand.
Defender Todd Dunivant wouldn’t go so far as to say these next three games could make or break what has been a highly successful season, but their importance should not be underestimated.
“Obviously we need to have a good run going into the final stretch of the season,” he said. “We still want to win the Supporters' Shield … that’s our goal. To do that, we’re going to have to beat Columbus and we’re going to have to get points. We haven’t been doing that lately, and it’s something we have to get done.”
Dunivant said Saturday’s game against the Crew has everything a soccer fan can ask for.
“It will be a great one,” he said. “Everyone around the league will be looking to this game. It’s the best team in the East against the best in the West. You can’t ask for more than that.”
CALLING IT A CAREER
Speaking with Joe Tutino on lagalaxy.com’s Cup of Joe on Thursday, midfielder Eddie Lewis said that he expects to retire from the game after the end of the 2010 season.
“For me, this is it. This is my last season,” Lewis said on the program. “Last year was great, I still felt I needed one more year to personally fulfill some of the things I wanted to fulfill and I wasn’t quite ready to give it up. I feel that this will be a great transition year. We have a lot of good young players coming through. I feel the foundation of the team is set now.”
The first player signed by Bruce Arena when he became the Galaxy’s head coach in August 2008, Lewis has appeared in 43 games for the club, scoring three times and adding six assists. He has appeared in eight games so far this season for the club.