CCL: Arena rues LA's lack of sharpness in both boxes
CARSON, Calif. – The way Bruce Arena saw Wednesday’s match against Toronto FC, it came down to making plays.
Toronto FC did so while the Arena’s Galaxy did not. And not coincidentally, the Canadians are moving on to the semifinals.
The Galaxy lost to TFC by 2-1 at The Home Depot Center, dropping their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series by a 4-3 aggregate score line. Ryan Johnson and Nick Soolsma netted on either side of halftime for the Reds, taking advantage of a pair of LA miscues.
Ironically, the lone Galaxy goal also came via a miscue as Ty Harden knocked a ball into his own net to briefly level the match.
“Give Toronto credit for the win tonight,” Arena said. "They were obviously very opportunistic, took advantage of the couple of opportunities they had. We played poorly in both boxes and that was the difference in the game.”
The Galaxy controlled possession for large stretches of the match but were unable to test Toronto FC ‘keeper Milos Kocic much. Kocic stopped Robbie Keane twice inside the penalty area and turned Mike Magee away on another. Otherwise, he watched balls sail high and wide of the goal throughout the match.
On the other end, rookie Tommy Meyer was beaten on a pair of plays as the Galaxy defense broke down at inopportune times.
“There were chances there for us, we could have scored a number of goals tonight and we didn’t get the defending we needed on a couple of plays,” Arena said. “We had to do a better job and the end result is we [lost] the game. There’s no one else to look at except ourselves in our locker room.”
The Galaxy went down in the 34th minute when Ryan Johnson headed in a ball off a cross from Soolsma, out-jumping Meyer. That gave the Reds a 1-0 lead at the break despite what Arena said was a superior Galaxy half.
“We actually played very well. It’s ridiculous we went into halftime down a goal,” he said. “We were very dominant in the first half, had a couple of chances and didn’t convert.”
The Galaxy got back into the game when Harden scored the own goal, but LA gave it right back. Still, the defense was not yielding much to Toronto.
“It’s not like we got blown up in the back,” Arena said. “Certainly didn’t do a good job of marking on the first goal or on the second goal, period. What more can you say?”
Keane, meanwhile, could have leveled the match in the 74th minute as he walked in alone on Kocic, but hesitated before taking a shot that Kocic was in position to parry away.
“He’s lost a little confidence. He’s had some chances in these past three games. You lose your confidence a little bit,” Arena said. “He’s going to have to get it back real quick."
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org