LA Galaxy ring alarm bells as defensive lapses, poor starts threaten dominant summer form

The LA Galaxy believe their second-half turnaround Wednesday night in suburban Denver could be a catalyst for another trophy-winning campaign.

But as they take aim at the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup crown, they’re not going to be so quick this time about putting that awful first half behind them.

The Galaxy (10-5-7) followed their worst MLS defeat in nearly 15 months, last weekend’s 4-1 disaster at Columbus, with their poorest half of the season to start Wednesday’s match. Their thrilling comeback from a two-goal halftime deficit for a 4-3 victory did not erase what came before.

And after conceding the first goal for the fourth successive game, LA, who are home Saturday night against Vancouver, have work to do if they’re going to chase hardware down the stretch.

"It’s certainly something that we need to rectify," captain Robbie Keane, who scored LA’s first-half goal and sent the through ball that Landon Donovan finished for the winner, said on the Galaxy’s Time Warner Cable SportsNet telecast. "We can’t be going into every game chasing from the first 15 minutes. It’s always difficult to go behind, especially when you’re playing away from home.

"But we showed character in the second half, and we can take certainly a lot of confidence from that, and, hopefully, that will stand us in good stead for the next couple of games. Hopefully, we’ve learned a lesson in the last few games."

Why were the Galaxy so awful? Don’t ask Bruce Arena.

"Who knows? If I knew that, I’d just write the book and retire and collect all the money," LA's coach said. "No one ever knows. These things are never easy. Athletes are funny people, and sometimes they respond, sometimes they don’t.

“Sometimes there’s odd results, and sometimes teams come out flat for whatever reason, and tonight that was certainly the case with us. It was a tale of two halves."

Defensively, LA have been poor all over the field, but Arena in his televised halftime comments singled out his backline. Leonardo, starting in central defense for the first time in a month, struggled greatly in the first half, and Todd Dunivant, in his first start since tearing an abdominal muscle in early April, wasn’t sharp. Both were better after the break.

"We thought we had it after the Columbus game," said Omar Gonzalez, who headed home the first goal in the second half and fed Alan Gordon for the equalizer. "We said we’re going to come out very sharp here in Colorado, and again we fall flat on our faces and give up three goals. We have to come out a lot sharper at home. It’s going to be hard against Vancouver, and we have to make our house a place where we don’t lose, and if we keep going the way we’re going, then we’re giving ourselves a lot of space to give up games.

"We have to be sharper in the beginning, find it within ourselves, demand more of our selves and just have each others' backs," he added. "Before these past two games, we were the best defense in the league, and then it just went out the window. We have to get back to starting out with a good defensive shape and just go from there."