Galaxy sputter in draw with Columbus
The Los Angeles Galaxy remained undefeated at home on Wednesday night, but it was done in less than perfect fashion. The Columbus Crew took up residency in their own half of the field and bunkered in for a scoreless draw, in front of an unimpressed crowd at The Home Depot Center.
It wasn't for lack of opportunities though that the Galaxy didn't earn the full three points. Even without star striker Landon Donovan, the Galaxy enjoyed much of the possession and again dominated the shot total, outshooting the Crew by a 2-1 ratio.
Yet it was a familiar thorn in the side of the Green and Gold -- lack of finishing again was the undoing of the home side in the first half. The majority of the chances fell to Guillermo Ramirez, who is among the league leader in shots taken, but the Crew defense left the Guatemalan still looking for first tally of the season.
Then the second half rolled around, and a new problem arose for the Galaxy -- lack of continuity. With two players making their first starts for the Galaxy and another making his first-ever appearance late in the game, it came as no surprise that the Galaxy struggled to connect. It was something that was on the mind of coaches and players alike after the game.
"I think in the first half we created a number of opportunities," said Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson. "It was important for us that we got at least one so we could get Columbus to create space for us between their lines."
However, that goal never came however for Sampson's side, and as the game went on without a goal, it became more and more clear that the Crew were going to play for a draw. The more players that Columbus dropped behind the ball, the harder it became for the Galaxy to connect offensively, and it eventually broke down completely with the addition of substitutes Joseph Ngwenya and Mamba Chisoni into the attack.
That lack of rhythm was just what the Crew was hoping for and they got it.
"They had a very distinct approach to the game," said Pete Vagenas. "Their focus was to sit back and get players behind the ball to disrupt our continuity. I think they did a fairly decent job tonight."
By the time the final whistle blew, there were five Galaxy players on the field that had little experience with the first team, thus compounding the lack of understanding between the Galaxy attackers tonight.
Galaxy holding midfielder Paulo Nagamura -- who has started every game for Los Angeles this season - noticed how much harder it got for the Galaxy to create chances as the game wore on.
"The first half I think we created a bunch of chances," said Nagamura. "Second half, they played very defensive and we couldn't go through them."
One positive can be taken away from tonight's game by the Galaxy. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman registered just his second clean sheet of the season, and the defense, which has been subjected to momentary lapses of concentration, stood tall.
Anchored by Tyrone Marshall in the back, the Green and Gold limited the Crew to just four shots on goal, and only one really solid scoring chance that didn't trouble Hartman too much.
In advance of the second Super Clasico, the Galaxy have just three days to try and find a solution to replacing Landon Donovan in attack. It was a situation Sampson's squad knew they would have to address, but the first attempt wasn't the best.
Adding to the Galaxy's problems is an injury to defender Chris Albright. If he can't go on Saturday, another new face will be inserted into the lineup, this time on the back line.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.