Galaxy seek consistency out of attack
In the 60th minute of the Los Angeles Galaxy's match at Real Salt Lake on April 29, Herculez Gomez tucked away what proved to be the game-winner in a 3-2 victory. Since that goal, the Galaxy have gone 300 minutes without finding the back of the net -- the five hours of play just 19 minutes short of the club record for a scoreless drought.
Still, the Galaxy coaches and players say that now isn't the time to panic. One of the problems the Galaxy have faced is the large number of different players who have lined up at striker thus far this season. Injuries can be blamed for some of the changes, national team duty is another reason, and head coach Steve Sampson's struggle to find anyone that can put in an honest 90-minute effort on a day-in, day-out basis is another.
"I think the lack of goal scoring has been because of the constant rotation of players," said Sampson this week in training. "We've had very little opportunity to gain any kind of rhythm or consistency in our attack."
Part of the problem can also be attributed to the midfield. Sampson has a slew of quality defensive-minded midfielders in Pete Vagenas, Paulo Nagamura and Marcelo Saragosa. While all of those players have the ability to disrupt an opponent's attack, none really is naturally comfortable going at defenders and offering a real dangerous threat offensively.
"We need more vertical runs out of midfield and more direct play," said Sampson.
After starting Landon Donovan as a striker, he moved him back to a playmaking midfield role with a degree of success. In the Galaxy's last win, against RSL, Donovan scored once and assisted on two goals playing in behind Gomez and Cornell Glen.
Donovan is now with the U.S. national team in preparations for the World Cup and the Galaxy need to adapt quickly if they are to turn things around.
"We have to learn very quickly how to play without (Donovan)," said Sampson. "Everyone really has to step up their game."
Los Angeles has already made a pair of moves to try and get the offense back on track. Kyle Martino and John Wolyniec were brought into the fold through a trade with the Columbus Crew.
The duo showed a glimpse of what the Galaxy need last Saturday when they nearly connected for a goal. A Martino cross came within inches of connecting with Wolyniec's boot for what would have been a Galaxy goal in the opening five minutes of play.
Both players bring a little something different to the table. Martino is a player more in the mold of an attacking central midfielder. He should be able to provide Sampson with the vertical runs out of midfield he's looking for.
"I think I bring creativity, getting people goal scoring chances and getting scoring chances for myself," said Martino. "I need to make sure every game I produce dangerous attacks."
Wolyniec brings size to a Galaxy attack that sorely needed a big presence in the box. With so much of the Galaxy offense focused on the flanks due to the lack of a playmaking central midfielder, defenses have been able to clear out crosses and long balls played into the area with relative ease.
Until the arrival of Wolyniec, the Galaxy only had one forward listed above 5-foot-10. That player is Alan Gordon, who has seemed to battle injuries since arriving in Los Angeles at the tail end of the 2004 season. Wolyniec now offers the Galaxy a little more of an aerial threat.
"(What I need to do is) just get on the end of balls in the box, to be a target up there so the guys have someone to play off of," said Wolyniec.
Both Galaxy newcomers will have their hands full on Saturday when they face off against Colorado. Since getting blown out 5-2 in their season opener by Houston, Colorado has conceded just six goals in its last five games, making the job that much tougher for a Galaxy team desperately looking for goals.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.