CARSON, Calif. – Missing four key starters due to international commitments, the LA Galaxy were unable to defeat the Colorado Rapids falling 1-0 to the Western Conference foe, which snapped the team’s six-game home unbeaten run.
With Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane, and Jaime Penedo all away on international duty, the Galaxy were unable to generate much offense against the Rapids, who took all three points with a strike from former LA striker Edson Buddle. In fact, the defeat was the third time that LA faced the Rapids during an international window with several key players missing.
Despite the absences, LA created several opportunities as Jack McBean came close two minutes into the match and Marcelo Sarvas registered a pair of chances that nearly found the back of the net, including one that hit the bar late in the first half. However, Colorado’s defense was in form as they repeatedly found a way to deny LA clear looks at goal—finishing the night with five shots blocked.
“I don’t think either team created that many chances the entire night,” said defender A.J. DeLaGarza. “I can only remember their one shot on goal was their goal. From what I can remember we never tested their goalie to make a good save, everything was right at him and like four or five shots were blocked.”
Defensively, goalkeeper Brian Rowe and center back Kofi Opare were steady filling in for Penedo and Gonzalez, but the Galaxy struggled up field.
With chances being blocked or sprayed wide, the importance of Donovan and Keane—as well as Gonzalez to the Galaxy attack was in full sight for all to see. During the club’s recent five game unbeaten run, the Designated Player trio accounted for LA’s last 13 goals in all competitions and the last time that one of those three players did not score for LA? July 20th against Vancouver.
“Jack and Jose have been sort of coming on every once and awhile so it’s tough to get a rhythm with the first team when you’re not playing as much,” said Rowe. “But I mean in the end, when we had those opportunities whoever it is needs to step up and get something on target and test the goalie.”
Against the Rapids, the young forward tandem of Jose Villarreal and McBean had opportunities, but were unable to find the back of the net due to what Villarreal described as a “lack of sharpness.” Even though LA’s starting forward core was thousands of miles from StubHub Center, Villarreal admits that the Galaxy must improve when they’re not on the field.
“I think as a whole team, we depend on [internationals] a little too much and it shows tonight,” said Villarreal. “I think that we were lost and used to [midfielders] playing balls up to Landon and Keane, and I’m not Keane and Jack isn’t Landon. These guys are very good players and we depend on them a little too much and this is what happens when we do.”
Yes, LA’s four international players are vital to the team’s success, but DeLaGarza admits that the Galaxy still have the talent to win even without the quartet—something that they may be asked to do next week against D.C. United as all four will be coming off taxing international matches midweek.
“We still have the players that can make plays and we were in the game [against Colorado] for quite a while,” said DeLaGarza. “We gave up a goal like we gave it out to another player who was our teammate. It seems these things always happen to us and it’s unfortunate.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider. Contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com