On Saturday the LA Galaxy went to Houston and, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to say anything else about the trip.
A DIFFERENT TEAM
Things were interesting before the game began as the starting lineup was announced. With Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez on international duty as well as injuries to other starters the Galaxy fielded a team unlike any this year. Defensively, fans knew things were about to be drastically different for Los Angeles as Kofi Opare and Tommy Meyer were given the start in the center of the backline. Offensively things continued to be atypical – Robbie Keane was placed in a central midfield role while Samuel and Rob Friend were dropped in the front of the Irishman at the head of the attack.
PROMISE TO START
Just seconds into the game the LA Galaxy teased fans by intercepting a bad pass from Giles Barnes and took the ball straight to goal. While ignoring a wide-open Robbie Keane, Samuel made an attempt on goal that went wide and Houston dodged the threat that could have changed the entire match. Things didn’t get horrible for the Galaxy right away. In fact, Los Angeles seemed to have found better chances during the first half of the match – David Horst cleared a brilliant and rare attempt on goal from AJ DeLaGarza and the Galaxy seemed to be moments away from the first goal of the match.
THINGS FALL APART
With the second half the LA Galaxy became completely stale both defensively and offensively. Despite performing well in the first half Dan Gargan became a liability for his team as he failed to mark Andrew Driver who nearly put the ball in the back of the Galaxy’s net in the 57th minute. However, the next mistake Gargan would make is quite possibly the most idiotic defensive error the LA Galaxy has had in seasons. With Jaime Penedo telling him no, Gargan sent the Panamanian keeper the ball from a throw-in. From here, Houston’s Mark Sherrod quickly obtained possession of the ball and promptly found Giles Barnes who placed it neatly in the Galaxy’s net. After this deflating goal, the Galaxy was not able to equalize and lost the match in a frustrating fashion.
The Galaxy had a lot of questions to answer in this match and instead of answering any they gave themselves more issues to solve. Gargan’s defensive meltdown may have lost the game but the LA Galaxy’s offense also didn’t do much to win it – Robbie Keane was not as effective in the middle, Samuel played sloppy and missed a clear chance, and Rob Friend was close to invisible. With the possibility of Landon Donovan missing games due to the World Cup this offense needs to prove that it can be potent in his absence.
We just didn’t finish; it’s hard to believe they even got a goal tonight. They weren’t going to get a goal and we gave them a chance and to their credit they finished it. We’re very disappointed to walk out of here without at least a point on a night where maybe we’re not great, but the other team is not dangerous and we have got to find a way to get a goal. – Bruce Arena, to LAGalaxy.com
Kofi Opare and Tommy Meyer laid down solid performances as a center back team. The young defenders provided a promising performance that gave fans hope for defensive reliability while Omar Gonzalez is with the USMNT. Opare seems a certain threat to Leonardo’s starting position as long as Bruce Arena can bring himself to stop starting the shaky Brazilian. Importantly, Raul Mendiola made his MLS debut and provided the one of the only positive qualities of the Galaxy’s second half attack – the young forward played with confidence and even made an attempt on goal by dribbling aggressively towards the Houston defense.
POTENTIAL ISN’T ENOUGH
It has been said all season: this Los Angeles Galaxy has the potential to be one of the best teams in MLS. Well, that team is now sitting dead last in the Western Conference. The Galaxy has failed to win on the road this season (excluding an “away” win at Chivas USA) and needs to find its rhythm before things get away from them. However, the LA Galaxy has played four games less than the conference leading Seattle Sounders. All hope is not lost – it’s just out there trying to figure out how to score a goal.