PORTLAND, Ore. — The LA Galaxy’s biggest problem of the 2013 MLS Regular Season reared its ugly head once more in the Rose City on Saturday evening.
Portland Timbers center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste escaped the mark of Gyasi Zardes to nod a Diego Valeri corner kick past LA’s Carlo Cudicini in the fourth minute of stoppage time to give the Timbers a 2-1 victory over the Galaxy.
Jean-Baptiste’s goal is the 15th that LA have conceded in the final 15 minutes of matches this season. That accounts for 60 percent of the goals that the Galaxy have allowed in their 20 regular season games with Bruce Arena’s side going 1-7-2 on the year when allowing a late goal. When LA have conceded in second half stoppage time—which they’ve done eight times this season—they are 0-6-0 despite entering stoppage time tied or in front in half of those six games.
Following the defeat at JELD-WEN Field, the Galaxy were left flabbergasted by yet another late collapse.
“What do you want me to say? I can’t explain it,” said LA captain Robbie Keane following the defeat. “It’s happened again. It’s happened too many times this year. We certainly didn’t expect it happen again tonight because we played well and didn’t deserve to lose the game on the last kick of the game. But it was the same old story, [we allow] a set piece and then they score. It’s disappointing.”
“It's inexcusable. It's been the story of our season giving away late goals all the way back to the Monterrey [CONCACAF Champions League] game, giving up a late goal,” said defender Sean Franklin, who eluded to the first late goal that LA conceded which resulted in a defeat. “It's been a pattern for us and we have to be ok with getting one point. We expose ourselves, we give up a corner late and we don't do a job of defending on the set piece and they get a goal."
Like in many of those results, the Galaxy were by and large the better team against the Timbers as they enjoyed a slight edge in shots attempted (10 to 7) and possession (50.8 to 49.2) while forcing Portland ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts to make four saves on the night.
Not unlike their defeat against the San Jose Earthquakes a few weeks earlier, the Galaxy believe that they once again caught up field pushing for the go-ahead goal when, perhaps, a more conservative approach could have been better.
“Sometimes I think we need to be clever and get to the corner sometimes instead of trying to score that second goal and coming away from here with a good result,” said Keane. “In the end, we lost and we have nothing."
How does LA correct this problem of conceding late goals?
The team has repeatedly said that managing the game in the closing minutes or finishing chances could turn the tide, but before LA can worry about specifics, one player believes that they must show a little guts at the end of games.
“We need just a little bit of leadership,” said defender Sean Franklin. “Everyone coming together and fighting for each other and knowing how to manage the game, and knowing that a point is fine, we don’t need three on the road. We have to get better at that.
“We have to realize that whether it’s 94 or 95 minutes, we have to play through,” Franklin added. “We have just have to compete every minute and not give up at the end.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com.