SANDY, Utah— The run is over for the LA Galaxy. All that’s left now is reflection ahead of the team’s first lengthy offseason since 2008.
LA crashed out of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 aggregate defeat to RSL in the Western Conference Semifinal after suffering a 2-0 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday night. By falling to RSL, the Galaxy broke a streak of four consecutive appearances in the Western Conference Championship. In fact, before Thursday’s defeat LA had qualified for the Conference Championship in each of their last six MLS Cup Playoff appearances dating back to 2003.
Following the defeat there was understandable shock in a distraught Galaxy locker room after the end of the quest for a third consecutive title, but LA captain Robbie Keane admitted that the team will simply have to ‘man up’ and move on.
“You have to try to move on and try to be a bigger and stronger man. I’ve always done that, I look forward now because obviously the next few days will be disappointing,” said Keane. “As soon as that’s over, we have to concentrate on having a break, hopefully coming back a stronger team and learning from these games.
“Just because you’re the LA Galaxy doesn’t mean that automatically you should be getting to the final, because it doesn’t work like that,” Keane added. “A lot of young players came up, stood up to the plate, and we can take a lot of positives from that. I’m sure next year we’ll probably see a stronger team.”
The growth of those young players was a major storyline for the Galaxy in 2013 as LA had to deal with the departures of David Beckham, Mike Magee as well as the absence of players like Keane, Landon Donovan and defender Omar Gonzalez due to international duty at various points of the season. The exits of Beckham and Magee allowed for the emergence of Marcelo Sarvas and rookie Gyasi Zardes who blossomed into prime contributors for LA in 2013.
During Thursday’s defeat, LA’s attack sputtered as the team racked up 22 chances at goal, but only caused RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to make two saves. Even though the Galaxy fell in the Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2003, Donovan was unwilling to label the season a failure.
“No. We got into the playoffs and that’s what we wanted to do in a tough conference. We played well enough to give ourselves a real chance,” said Donovan. “Salt Lake’s a good team and these games go either way. It’s 1-0 either way and tonight, we just weren’t good enough. We can’t put too much into one performance. We didn’t have a great year, but I thought we had a pretty solid year and we can certainly get a lot better.”
Improvement will be the name of the game for the team that finished with the fourth-best record in the Western Conference and the fifth-best mark in MLS. And moments after the final whistle that ended their 2013 season, the Galaxy were eager to get back to work ahead of a 2014 season that they hope will end with a fifth MLS Cup title.
“We’ve been at the top for two years now, and we’ve been getting everyone’s best game. And this year, was an incredible year for every single team out there because the playoff race was so intense,” said defender Omar Gonzalez. “There’s a lot of good teams and losing out now to Salt Lake, which played great tonight is disappointing, but definitely motivation for next year.
“I thought it was good to see young guys do well this year and it’s promising for next year for them to step up even more,” Gonzalez added. “For the older guys, [we] just got to keep going and look to a good 2014 season.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com