CARSON, Calif. – Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can make a difference. Just ask the LA Galaxy.
It was only four days ago, for example, that they trailed the Colorado Rapids 3-1 after one of their most dismal first halves in recent memory. That effort – or lack thereof – came on the heels of an embarrassing 4-1 defeat to the Columbus Crew.
Since the second half against the Rapids, the defense has been spotless, including Saturday’s 2-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of 21,637 at StubHub Center.
So what’s the reason for the turnaround?
“It’s just the mentality,” said the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, who scored the eventual winning goal in the fourth minute on an assist from Robbie Keane. “Sometimes we have a tendency to be a little lackadaisical and turn off. When we do that, not surprisingly we give up goals. We have bounces go against us and things go against us.
“We do things the right way and the bounces go for us. There’s karma involved and there’s doing things the right way, and you get rewarded.”
Saturday’s victory not only improved the Galaxy’s record to 11-5-7 (40 points) but came at the expense of a Whitecaps team (7-5-12, 33 points) that was on a five-game unbeaten streak (1-0-4) and hadn’t allowed a goal in 321 minutes until Donovan scored just four minutes in.
The Galaxy also retained their distinction of allowing the fewest goals in the Western Conference (26) and kept their all-time record against Vancouver at StubHub Center spotless (6-0).
But what particularly pleased head coach Bruce Arena and the players was a defense that limited the Whitecaps to just three shots on target, all in the second half. Arena called it “a very good collective effort.”
Midfielder Baggio Husidic, who started in place of Stefan Ishizaki (out with a toe injury), said the performances against the Crew and Rapids may have been blessings in disguise.
“We’re a good team defensively,” he said. “I think reality hit us that you just can’t win every game by scoring a lot of goals. We had a talk, the mentality changed … the defense comes first, then the goals will come.
“I think that’s a great sign of a team when you can play defense like that tonight and everybody’s clicked in. I don’t think there’s many teams that can beat us. “
Omar Gonzalez, who teamed with Leonardo for superb play in central defense Saturday, was particularly pleased with the clean sheet.
“It’s something we wanted to get back to,” he said. “Obviously the road trip we just went on we went through some troubles there. We weren’t playing as a unit. People were playing as individuals. For tonight’s game we just wanted to get back to giving a good team effort, and tonight we did that.
“On the night it was great from everyone out there. The front guys made our jobs easier. Vancouver wasn’t able to get much out of it.”