Defining moment? Bruce Arena stokes LA Galaxy's competitive fires at halftime in comeback win
The LA Galaxy followed its abysmal performance last weekend in Columbus with a first half Wednesday night in Colorado that was just as poor, perhaps worse, prompting an embarrassed head coach Bruce Arena, on the local telecast, to proclaim that he thought "we’re going to find out in the second half if we’re going to have a good team or not this year."
The Galaxy responded to some harsh halftime words from their boss, scoring three unanswered goals to rally from a two-goal deficit and claiming a wild 4-3 victory over the Rapids, with each of their Designated Players scoring goals.
Landon Donovan netted the winner in the 80th minute, cutting in from the left and sprinting to finish a through ball from Robbie Keane to send LA within five points of the Western Conference lead, with games still in hand.
"I think the second half was the defining moment in our season ...," Arena said on the club’s postgame show. "The guys showed a lot of character, played well on a night where, jeez, we were so sloppy in that first half."
The Rapids, aided by poor LA defending, especially at the back, took 2-0 and 3-1 advantages before halftime, and the shell-shocked Galaxy got an earful from Arena at the break.
"I don’t think I can say what he said without being fined, but there were some choice words that we absolutely deserved to hear," Donovan, whose free kick Omar Gonzalez headed home to trim the deficit to a goal in the 55th minute, told reporters in Commerce City, Colo. "After what happened Saturday [in a 4-1 loss to the Crew] and what happened in the first half, giving up seven goals in a game and a half is unacceptable for this team.
"So the first order of business was defensively, to do the job. We were embarrassed defensively, all of us, from the front to the back. We know we’re good enough to always get chances, and we wanted to get the second goal."
Gonzalez got it, and Keane, who netted a first-half goal, "had the feeling that we were going to come back and maybe get another goal and, hopefully, two, and we got two."
Alan Gordon, with his first LA goal since 2010, scored the equalizer in the 68th, a simple finish after Gonzalez nodded Marcelo Sarvas’ cross into the goalmouth, before Donovan did what he does best -- streaking into open space, rounding goalkeeper Clint Irwin, and slotting into the open net -- to claim all the points.
"Landon dug deep," Arena told reporters. "I haven’t seen that kind of passion out of Landon in a game in a long time."
Donovan noted that "a lot of teams would have closed up shot and tried to get a point" after climbing back to 3-3, but that wasn’t enough.
"After Saturday, we needed a response," he said. "It’s too bad that we took that long to respond after Saturday, because Saturday was unacceptable. And we were embarrassed at halftime. We shouldn’t be giving up three goals to any team, regardless of the situation. And that’s embarrassing.
"So everybody did their job defensively, the backline and [goalkeeper] Jaime Penedo were great in the second half, and they gave us a chance to win, and we needed to make plays, and we made them."