Carson, CA – Bruce Arena isn’t concerned about the LA Galaxy and he may’ve just convinced me that I shouldn’t worry about the team as well.
However, this has been a poor start to the month of August and the last week has been taxing on the players, the coaches and the fans. The LA Galaxy, in three home games this week, have dropped points to the Red Bulls in a 2-2 draw, lost a chance at a US Open Cup final in which they were leading 1-0 with five minutes left, and had to come from behind to draw the Colorado Rapids. That’s two MLS Games, two points, and elimination from a chance at hardware.
But tonight versus Colorado, Arena was adamant that he thought his team played well despite some key deficiencies. “Story of the game is we didn’t finish our chances. It’s a game we could’ve scored – certainly two goals – maybe three or four” Arena commented after the game.
Gyasi Zardes had a very real chance to open up the scoring in the 11th minute when he was played through by Steven Gerrard after a masterful run by Emmanuel Boateng. Zardes got a touch on the ball before firing it in the general direction of Colorado Rapids Goalkeeper Tim Howard. Howard made a huge save even denying a rebound.
Note: Robbie Keane missed tonight’s game with an Orbital Fracture and the fact that he hadn’t yet cleared the league’s concussion protocol. This should not be taken to be that Keane suffered a concussion in the LA Galaxy’s game against New York. That actual determination seems fuzzy.
Then in the 26th minute it was Jelle Van Damme’s turn to be denied. It should be noted that Van Damme has been one of the most unlucky players on the LA Galaxy team when it comes to scoring goals. His header, which was started on a free kick from Steven Gerrard, was perfectly weighted and had already cleared the mass of players in the box and Tim Howard when it clanked off the post.
However, Van Damme doesn’t seem amused by not converting those chances. “It’s pretty frustrating for me. I think this season I hit the post four, five, six times. Last week I scored I was offside… I mean eventually one day I will score.”
The rest of the half played out with a half chance from Colorado and a some great soccer from the Galaxy, but in this case the whistle probably stopped what was some valuable momentum for the LA.
The Second half started with a change for Colorado as they brought on Sebastian Le Toux on for Dominique Badji. The LA Galaxy continued with their starting XI and the half picked up right where it left off – with the Galaxy attacking a stout defense of Colorado.
But the Galaxy defense fell asleep for merely a moment. A ripped shot from the top of the box saw Colorado Rapids forward Shkelzen Gashi score in the 51st minute. It was a game that saw the Galaxy dominate possession, but on occasion allow Colorado just a bit too much time or space near the box. Rowe was never really tested, and the placement by Gashi on this goal was perfect.
Trailing in a game they should be winning, the common theme over the last three home games, LA continue their onslaught on Colorado who did their best to stay strong defensively.
One of the truly great highlights of this game will be Emmanueal Boateng’s 45 yard run that eventually set up the corner kick that the LA Galaxy converted. Boateng picked up the ball in his own half, and seeing some room in front of him, took off. He beat 3 Colorado Rapids, one of them twice, before whipping a shot in on goal that Tim Howard was able to perry wide around the post. Boateng showed calmness, unmatchable speed and the ability to snap a quick shot on goal. Had he found the net it may’ve been up there for goal of the year.
But as it was the LA Galaxy received a corner kick from the play and it was Daniel Steres, a guy who had a game to forget against the New York Red Bulls, who converted his header into a tying goal for the the home team in the 62nd minute. It was a lot like Van Damme’s header that was clipped at the near post but traveled to the back post to find the net.
With the momentum restored the LA Galaxy probably should’ve seen at least one more goal.
In the 66th minute AJ DeLaGarza found himself on the ball inside the Colorado box with nothing but time and space. He had received a back pass from Sebastian Lletget who had just touched on a Giovani dos Santos pass. DeLaGarza had the time to take the shot, but with his off foot he pushed the shot wide not even forcing a save from Tim Howard.
It was the last good look the LA Galaxy would have as Bruce Arena brought on Mike Magee in the 72nd minute for Sebastian Lletget. And Alan Gordon on for the energetic Emmanuel Boateng in the 88th minute. Neither player brought anything dynamic to the game and in my opinion Arena played it much too safe.
The Galaxy have some offensive options, Raul Mendiola comes to mind, but the play of Magee and Gordon wasn’t anything spectacular and if Bruce wanted to do something about scoring goals I’m not so sure that either of those guys are the answer. It’s a reality that might be tough to face for some LA fans, but it’s a well that the team needs to avoid depending on.
The third substitution was actually one that the team did not count on. Arena brought in Dan Kennedy for an injured Brian Rowe when Rowe was unfortunately caught between teammate Nigel De Jong and Colorado Rapids attacker Kevin Doyle. Rowe had to come out to take control of a dangerous cross in the 80th minute. De Jong clipped Rowe’s head while Doyle slid into Rowe studs up. All their bodies ended up in a heap inside the box. No foul was called but Galaxy players immediately called for the trainers. It took a good five or six minutes before Rowe was able to walk off the field under his own power.
Arena stated after the game that he knew Rowe received several staples for a large gash on his head, but that he wasn’t aware of any other diagnosis after the game. It’s been assumed that Rowe will be required to go through the Leagues Concussion Protocol and that a determination on when he can play will be dictated by the results of that.
Brian Rowe was in the locker room after the game, sitting in his locker, talking to teammates and trainers. During Jelle Van Damme’s interview with the press, Van Damme stopped talking to jokingly introduce himself to Rowe from across the room. “Hi Brian! It’s me, Jelle!” Rowe laughed back acknowledging the joke.
Dan Kennedy came into the game and made easy work of the remaining half chances for Colorado and the game was over after only 8 minutes of stoppage time.
So again, the LA Galaxy created chances and they didn’t finish them. But for the first time in 16 MLS games they did outshoot their opponent. And that should be a good sign for those of you who depend on that type of thing. Bruce Arena isn’t one of the people. “Don’t tell me that we had more shots, more possession and all that garbage. It’s 1-1. Just another lesson for you children out there that the score is the only statistic in this game that means anything.”
But because Arena was joking on the night and honestly believed he saw something good from this game, it’s worth taking a step back and looking for that same silver lining. Although the result was basically the same as the New York game, it was different.
The LA Galaxy imposed their will on one of the best teams in Major League Soccer. And they continued to create chances and look good while doing it. But the finishing has to come. The Balls that bounce off the post and don’t go in will need to find netting and the great passing, and the individual plays of skill will need to start counting for something.
The LA Galaxy will next travel to NYCFC and Yankee stadium. Then they’ll play Chicago hoping to find 3 points from both teams. Because if you’re not getting 3 points at home, then you’ve got to get those points on the road. And why not? This team still seems completely capable of winning any game, at any time.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Emmanuel Boateng, who was outstanding all night, was flashy and calm with the ball, and created so many chances that it was disappointing to not see him find the back of the net. He’s a player who has been criticized for his consistency has shown two good back-to-back games. When he uses his speed the right way, Boateng easily outpaces almost any defender in this league. And his crossing and creativity on the night was in peak form. He’s a player that needs to have good games day after day if he wants to start, but there might be something there. He may be finding that form. More on him later.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Jelle Van Damme was everything the LA Galaxy could’ve ever wanted and more. Earlier this season Van Damme was a wild yellow card machine but he showed excellent positioning and the want and ability to get forward when he was allowed space. Tonight pretty much exemplified his total submersion in understanding how Major League Soccer is played.
Van Damme wasn’t wasteful with the ball but he looked to take space when it was available to him and wasn’t afraid to bypass the midfield with his passing. But he was also masterful at positioning. Making several great defensive stands and being a true outlet for most of the night. He got loud cheers from the StubHub Center crowd on multiple occasions, and just like Emmanuel Boateng above, he brought an energy to the team that cannot and should not be underestimated.
QUOTE OF THE GAME:
On not knowing the League’s Concussion Protocol
“I don’t know. I have a Bachelor’s of Science. It doesn’t qualify me for a whole lot. I don’t know what the diagnosis is of the player. So how can I answer that? I’m a bit of an idiot so I wouldn’t be able to tell you that right now (Emphasis added).” Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy Head Coach
COL – Shkelzen Gashi (Assisted by Marlon Hairston) 51’
LA – Daniel Steres (Assisted by Steven Gerrard) 62’