Gonzalez, Lopes still finding feet as LA's center back pair
CARSON, Calif. – David Júnior Lopes and Omar Gonzalez continue to work toward an effective partnership, and they're happy with how it's coming along, even following some mighty struggles in the LA Galaxy's 5-1 loss Thursday night to Real Madrid.
They were the central tandem in the back for the first half, when the Spanish champs repeatedly tore apart LA's defense to the tune of three goals, and probably could've had more.
Lopes afterward revealed there “wasn't enough communication” on the backline, and Gonzalez, the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year, on Friday acknowledged he needs to be more vocal.
WATCH: LA Galaxy - Real Madrid recap
“I think a way we can get better is if I raise my game,” said Gonzalez, who has made five appearances, two in friendlies, since returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in preseason. “There are things that take a little bit of time coming back from this injury, not playing in six months, that I've just got to be aware of so I can be at my best on the backline. A lot of it has to do with more talking. I think I need to talk a lot more so we can be that much more organized.”
They've spent only 248 minutes together, 90 of those in friendlies, with only one full match in tandem, last weekend's 1-0 victory at FC Dallas.
On Thursday, the Galaxy backline was caught playing passively, often out of position, and failing to react throughout the first half as Real Madrid put on a mesmerizing offensive display. Coach Bruce Arena said Lopes and Gonzalez were “not good last night in the early going, that's for sure.”
“My guess is we probably won't find a team like Real Madrid running around MLS,” Arena said. “That's the only good thing. But some of the mistakes we made we can't make against anybody. We have to get some of those tactical movements down a little bit better.”
Lopes acknowledged he “could have been better,” and Gonzalez said he is still working to get back to his best, that “it just takes some time.”
“There are times I could be in certain positions a lot faster,” he said, “moving with the backline, covering for people, dropping earlier, just things like that.”
They were better on attack against Madrid, combining to put away a David Beckham free kick in the 23rd minutes that gave them some semblance of hope after conceding twice in the first 11 minutes. Lopes put it away, just like he put one away in last week's 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur. Nice to score, he says, “but I'd be happier in league – those are the ones that count.”
This one, in particular, will count for something.
“That goal's for everybody – for my kids, my grandchildren, everybody,” Lopes said. “That will stay there forever. When I'm done playing, I'll remember that I played against Real Madrid, played against such a great team. That goal, nobody will ever take away.”