Photo credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News

Lackluster LA Fall on the Road to Resurging Real Salt Lake (0-3)

Though Bruce Arena dubbed last night a “comedy of errors,” it was anything but for LA Galaxy and their supporters. It was a perfect storm in the form of Real Salt Lake. Devon Sandoval scored a brace, Javier Morales converted a penalty kick, RSL’s new DP “El Burrito” Martinez continued to impress, and the Los Angeles Galaxy fell 0-3 to a driven Real Salt Lake last night.

“We give full credit to Salt Lake, they were certainly the better team tonight, there’s no question about that. When you concede early, it’s certainly going to be difficult, and then the penalty. As a group and as a team, we just have to take responsibility for this, and quickly move on.”
–Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy.

A dangerously unmarked Sandoval starting in his third game this week showed no signs of fatigue, opening the scoring in the third minute with a left-footed shot to complete Aaron Maund’s headed pass.

RSL then doubled their lead when Morales converted from the spot with his classic stutter step in the 28th minute for Salt Lake after Juninho took down Martinez in the box.

In spite of quality goal efforts from Keane and Gerrard in the first half, Rimando turned back all of LA’s efforts to get on the scoreboard.

Photo credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News
Photo credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News

The nail in the coffin for LA came in the 54th minute in the form of an unflappable Martinez who broke through the Galaxy’s defense and cruised towards the goal, crossing the ball to an eager Sandoval in the middle of the box ready to head the ball into the back of the net. The 0-3 score was just too much for a flailing Galaxy to overcome. Not even Alan Gordon’s magic was enough to battle through RSL’s Rimando wall. His final effort in the second half came closest but Edson Buddle was unable to capture the rebound for a finish.

LA fell short in spite of their theoretically perfect lineup that should have given them a huge advantage, and with chances at first place at stake, they lacked urgency and were unable to contain RSL’s attack from start to finish. It’s now been 3 games since the Galaxy have scored and the stale quality of play is hard to ignore.

“The second half doesn’t concern me as much as our poor play defending a corner kick, and obviously we need better judgment in conceding the penalty.  Then we had our chances, but give them credit, their goalkeeper made some saves as well in the first half.  So we go down 2-0 and need to come out in the second half and get a goal back. Conceding the third goal, the game was basically over.”
–Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy.

Meanwhile, a resurging Real Salt Lake’s playoff hopes stay alive.

The Galaxy (13-9-8, 47 points) stay tied with FC Dallas for second place in the Western Conference, a point off the Vancouver Whitecaps. Next week against Dallas at home brings LA a huge opportunity to re-establish their confidence and position at the top of the table.

“We know how dangerous Dallas is.  We’re at home and we’ve got to bring some energy that we don’t bring on the road for whatever reason.  We’ve only got four games left, so something’s got to start cooking.”
– A.J. DeLaGarza.