SANDY, Utah -- In the end, set pieces proved to be the fatal flaw of the LA Galaxy in 2013.
LA crashed out of the Western Conference Semifinals Series 2-1 to Real Salt Lake after dropping a 2-0 result to RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium. Both of the goals that RSL scored on the windy evening came directly or indirectly off set pieces with Chris Schuler’s goal in the 101th one minute coming off a Javier Morales free kick.
In 2013, the Galaxy conceded 17 goals on set pieces: 15 in MLS play and the two in CONCACAF Champions League play. Meanwhile LA tallying just nine on dead ball chances—seven in MLS play and two in CCL. In comparison, in league play in 2012—albeit with David Beckham on the squad—LA scored 15 set piece goals allowing just nine.
After crashing out at Rio Tinto Stadium, LA’s players gave their thoughts on the team’s set piece deficiencies.
OMAR GONZALEZ: “A lot of things hurt us this season from set pieces to…that was the main thing. That’s something we need to figure out, and tonight that hurt us again. It was the story of our year and tonight it ended up biting us in the butt.”
LANDON DONOVAN: “They had a number of quality set pieces. Obviously, the wind blowing the way it was going was going to make it difficult, and we’ve got to give Schuler credit. He made a great play to get his foot on it and put it in. It’s frustrating, you know at this point it’s over with and you’ve got to learn. We know there are a number of areas where we fell short, and we just didn’t get it done tonight.”
ROBBIE KEANE: “Set pieces has kind of been our downfall the whole season, so I think we go away now and come back next year hopefully a stronger team as we reflect on this season, which I’m sure that Bruce [Arena] and the players certainly will, but that’s life. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s what we’re in this game for. It happens to the best of teams. Maybe this year, we probably weren’t the best team, but we were certainly the team that people probably expected us to go on and win it, but in football, it doesn’t happen like that, I’m afraid.”
ROBBIE ROGERS: “Yeah, set pieces are a thing -- the whole team is responsible for that. I think over the course of the season, as long as I’ve been here, I think it’s been one of our weaknesses, defending set pieces as a team. There have been a number of games where we’ve given away points at the end of the game off set pieces, and it’s something that I’m sure will be addressed and worked on.”
TODD DUNIVANT: “There were quite a few. We were sort of bending not breaking, and finally they broke through, and they were dangerous especially on their wide free kicks. I think that Morales was definitely putting in really dangerous balls behind our line and putting Jaime [Penedo] in difficult spots. Those were great balls and they finally got on the end of one. We defended well for long stretches and I think let our guard down on that one. Tip your hat to that them.”