LA Galaxy mulling place in Western basement: "I think we should be undefeated," says Bruce Arena
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy look at the Western Conference standings, and they don't like what they see. There they are at the bottom, ninth of nine teams, alone in last place.
As defender A.J. DeLaGarza notes: "It's not fun."
It's not where they belong, either, nor an accurate depiction of their season. The Galaxy (2-2-3) have played two, three or four fewer games than all of their conference rivals – their 1.13 points-per-game average is sixth-best in the West – and, while unsatisfied with their results, aren't particularly displeased with how they're playing.
"I think we should be undefeated," head coach Bruce Arena said on the eve of LA's game Wednesday night against FC Dallas (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live), the first of two home games over five days. "I'm not saying all wins, but we shouldn't have any marks in the loss column. We've actually played much better than our record indicates, but that's nobody's fault but our own.
"I'll leave it at that. We have plenty of time to demonstrate that we're a team that belongs at the top of the table, not at the bottom."
Per Arena's belief LA ought to be 5-0-3, but they lost to Real Salt Lake despite a dominant performance in their opener, surrendered a late equalizer in a draw at Vancouver, missed a penalty that would have forged a tie in Colorado, conceded a stoppage-time equalizer in a tie at Portland, then lost at Houston on the flukiest of goals. That's nine points that have slipped away, and frustration has been growing.
"We're not getting the points we should be getting," DeLaGarza said. "So I'd say we deserve to be down there right now, the way we've been playing, giving up fluke goals and not scoring our own."
They have only eight goals in eight games, five of them by Robbie Keane, and have given away too many soft goals, a decent share in the closing minutes.
Forward Rob Friend thinks the Galaxy's odd schedule, in which they were off for three of the season's first eight weekends, has a lot to do with it.
"Not to make excuses, but I think we've had kind of a rough go at it," he said. "We've had a lot of tough away games in a row, we've had these [three] byes, and I think it messes up your flow. The schedule has kind of disrupted, I would say, the flow a little bit.
"I don't think it's time to look at the standings and start panicking. It's still a long season."
The Galaxy see this as a week to make things right. They're home against Dallas and then Sunday against Philadelphia, their first games at StubHub Center since April 12, after need to make a statement after a four-game road swing in which they drew the two games they probably should have won and lost the two in which they deserved a point.
"I think it's important at this stage now to get points on the board fairly quickly," Keane said. "It's OK saying it's only eight games into the season, but [dropping points] now could cost you at the end of the season, in terms of playoff situation and home advantage and stuff like that. It's very important. The players need to realize it's about now. We need to start winning now."
Keane promises good things are coming.
"I wouldn't be hitting the panic button yet. There's still a lot more to come from this team," he said. "There's a good chance soon, I think, that we could beat a team by quite a lot, and that will give the team confidence."