CARSON, Calif. – Inconsistent? Check. Trouble scoring? Check. Costly lapses in concentration? Check.
Put them all together, and it just about sums up the season for the LA Galaxy, who take on Western Conference rival Real Salt Lake for the third time this season on Saturday at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes).
It marks another important game for the Galaxy (5-3-6, 21 points), who slowly are making their out of the conference cellar. Real Salt Lake (7-3-7, 28 points) are second in the West seven points behind front-running Seattle.
“We know that we’re better than we are and we know we can be in a better position than we are in the standings,” the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan said. “It’s about concentration.
“We keep saying it … it sounds a little bit like a broken record … but when we focus and we concentrate we get the results we deserve. We just have to do that.”
The Galaxy are coming off another example of frustration, last Saturday’s 2-2 tie with the visiting Portland Timbers. The Galaxy appeared to be in control except for a 10-minute stretch of the second half in which the Timbers rallied to take the lead. Only an own goal salvaged a tie for the Galaxy.
“I think we saw against Portland even 10 minutes of turning off allows a team to get into the game,” Donovan said. “You can get punished for it. This league has enough good players when you make mistakes you’re going to get punished more often than not.
“We’re good enough to not have those lapses in concentration.”
Head coach Bruce Arena said he couldn’t agree more.
“We can be more consistent throughout games,” he said. “Get a little bit away from those down moments. But that’s all part of it with teams. You see it at the highest level in the World Cup. Like (Wednesday) you see Holland and Argentina focused for 120 minutes, and that’s why it was what it was.
“Maybe the day before, maybe you see a different lesson with Germany and Brazil. At all levels that continues to be a challenge. In every game at every level and every league there’s lessons to be learned.”
Saturday’s game, which could mark the returns of the Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez and Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman from U.S. national team duties at the World Cup, marks this season’s third meeting between the teams. Real Salt Lake won the first one, 1-0, in the March 8 season opener at StubHub Center thanks to an 80th-minute goal by Joao Plata (who has a team-leading seven goals). The teams then battled to a 1-1 tie two weeks later in Sandy, Utah.
The Galaxy’s Robbie Keane, who scored the tying goal in the second match, insisted all is not lost for the Galaxy despite its disappointing record. Far from it, in fact.
“You have to understand we’ve only been back two weeks,” he said, referring to the league’s recent World Cup break. “Two games we got four points, so it’s not all doom and gloom.
“We’re not losing games. That’s the most important thing.”