Chris Birchall vs KC
German Alegria

Galaxy looking for better effort Saturday

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CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy have had their share of defeats lately, including three in four games this month, but last Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards at The Home Depot Center arguably was the worst of the bunch.

“I wish we didn’t lose in that fashion,” Edson Buddle said, “but we just have to forget about it.”

It’s one thing to lose on a lucky goal or be beaten by brilliant goalkeeping, but when you’ve been “outcompeted,” as Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena put it on Saturday night, it’s time to be a little more concerned than usual.

Arena used that seldom-used term following Saturday’s loss which sliced the Galaxy’s lead in the Western Conference to three points over Real Salt Lake and two points over the Columbus Crew in the race for the Supporters Shield. The Galaxy finished August with a 1-3-0 record for the month and face another critical game on Saturday in Chicago.

Arena admitted the loss to the Wizards was more troubling than a number of others that have seen the Galaxy go 3-5-2 over their last 10 games after an impressive 10-0-2 start to the season.

“It’s disturbing. It was not a good performance on our part,” he said after practice on Monday. “I think those things never surprise you in MLS. I think we’re getting the best shot of every team we play, and that requires that we be, game in and game out, ready to compete. And if we’re not, we’re going to have problems.”

Sharing Arena’s sentiment, and using his same choice of words, Chris Birchall was troubled by his team’s performance on Saturday night.

“Being outcompeted, where you’re not winning your individual battles, (is a serious problem)” said the Trinidadian midfielder who will miss Saturday’s game against the Fire through suspension. “You can’t always say the effort is there when you’re getting outcompeted. I think it was more alarming than the other (losses), and we just have to put it behind us.

“When you’re been all season at the top of the league, sometimes not even playing that well and still up there, you probably take it for granted that even if we lose we’re still going to be up there. Maybe there’s a bit of complacency, I don’t know.

“We just need a game where we play well and get the confidence again, like we did in New York.”

Birchall was referring to a 1-0 victory over the Red Bulls on Aug. 14, generally recognized as the Galaxy’s best performance in the last month and a half. Unfortunately, that win was followed by two of the Galaxy’s more distressing losses, 1-0 in San Jose and 2-0 to the Wizards.

“We need a performance where we play hard, grind out a one-nil win and put points on the table,” he said. “We need something.”

Defender Todd Dunivant is confident the Galaxy will respond this weekend, thanks to the presence of so many veterans and their desire to avoid a repeat performance.

“Guys know that’s not good enough,” he said. “That didn’t get us to where we are. This is a difficult period; every year you’re going to go through periods like this and hopefully we’re at the end of it.”

Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts said the Galaxy must remember what got them to the top of the table, what he called “the little things.” He also said this is not the time to make ill-advised decisions, whether they involve personnel or strategy.

“It’s no time to panic,” he said. “We’re going to have weeks like this. The road to the championship is never easy.

Arena would not reveal what alterations he will make to his lineup Saturday in Chicago, but did say, “The worst thing to do would be not making any changes.”

When asked what the Galaxy have to do to snap out of their recent funk, the answer he gave was simple.

“Win the next game.”