CARSON, Calif – LA Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid and his staff had been harping all week about a more concerted effort on defense, and the coaches appeared to get it in Friday’s 1-1 tie with Los Angeles FC in front of a sellout crowd of 27,068 at StubHub Center.
The Galaxy (10-9-8) played defense like they haven’t in weeks and might have been unlucky to come away with only a draw in the third and final game of the inaugural crosstown series.
But they definitely were lucky in one respect. They were fortunate to have in goal David Bingham, who made arguably the save of the season to preserve the deadlock.
It was during the 72nd minute when LAFC’s Benny Feilhaber broke free through the Galaxy defense and headed in on goal. Bingham, however, came out to challenge him and managed to just knock the ball away.
“It was a good save,” Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid said, “and that’s what goalkeepers need to do.”
It has been an inconsistent season at best for Bingham, an eight-year veteran who was signed on Jan. 10 after the club acquired his rights from the San Jose Earthquakes for $100,000 in general allocation money and $100,000 in targeted allocation money.
As the Galaxy defense proved wildly inconsistent, his numbers reflected the spotty play. He ranked just 19th, for example, in Major League Soccer with a 1.81 goals-against average entering Friday’s game and was second in shots faced behind league leader Evan Bush of Montreal. He also was second overall in saves and made six more Friday, giving him 99. Only Bush with 106 has more.
Perhaps none of Bingham’s saves this season were bigger than his stop on Feilhaber.
“He comes through and he tries to dribble on me, he came across and I was able to get a hand on it,” Bingham said.
Galaxy right back Rolf Feltscher raised his hand on the play to call for offside, but game officials made no such ruling and the Galaxy barely escaped, thanks to Bingham’s heroics.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said of the no-offside call. “The refs put their flag up, they don’t put their flag up. You don’t even know what the rule is anymore.
“You just play it and see what happens.”
Schmid understandably was thankful for Bingham’s game-saving actions.
“The hardest thing for a goalkeeper sometimes is it’s easy when a team is peppering you with a lot of shots and you get a lot of action,” he said. “They (LAFC) were around the goal but there weren’t a lot of shots, per se. When you’re not peppered with a lot of shots and you’re called upon to make a big save, that’s pretty important.
“Obviously that was a big save at that point.”
Bingham said he was encouraged by the play of the revitalized defense, but he also hoped it wasn’t a one-time thing. He preferred to look at the big picture, one in which the Galaxy desperately is trying to reach the postseason. They’re now tied for fourth in the West with Real Salt Lake; the first six teams qualify.
“It was good, but at the end of the day we would rather play bad and win the game then play good and tie or lose,” he said. “We need to win a lot of these games coming up and that’s the only thing that matters.”