The Los Angeles Galaxy and The Home Depot Center played host to the Yokohama F-Marinos of Japan's J-League on Wednesday night. While the visitors from across the Pacific took home the victory by a score of 2-0, both coaches took something else away from the match.
Yokohama is currently in their midseason break, and was using Wednesday night's game as a chance to test out a new four-back system in defense. The Galaxy on the other hand are entrenched in their domestic season, and seized the opportunity to "audition" several reserve players in a competitive match.
Both sides played competitively through the first 45 minutes creating chances on either end of the pitch, though none hit home. But after the break, the Japanese side sorted out their defense and came out firing. The home side infused more new blood into the lineup in the second half, and inexperience became their undoing, culminating in the loss.
Even if it was a little bit of miscommunication, or inexperience, that led to the goals, Galaxy boss Steve Sampson felt the game still was a positive.
"We got some players some real important minutes," Sampson said. "The game served an important purpose."
The Galaxy coach lauded the efforts of several players after the game, most noticeably Paul Broome, Ned Grabavoy, and backup goalie Steve Cronin. All three players could see significant time in the upcoming months as teams around the region are preparing for the World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the Galaxy employs several players who play for those countries.
In all, the game was exactly what it was billed as: friendly. There were very few harsh fouls or hard feelings between players on the field. After the game, both coaches had nothing but respect for their opponents.
Yokohama manager Takeshi Okada, whose team took away the win, was particularly impressed with the first half play of the Galaxy.
"In the first half, when the starting players were in the game, we saw a lot of skillful techniques out players couldn't cope with." Sampson did have six of his regular starters in for the first 45 minutes, but none of them finished the game.
Okada also was pleased with the way his team reacted to the test from the MLS side.
"This is the first match we started testing the four-back system it was very slow getting used to the system." said Okada. "After halftime the combinations started to get better and the team started to use the system better."
The system worked to the tune of two goals, both coming off free kicks. The first goal came when Todd Dunivant was beaten to a cross that was headed in. The second goal came when Cronin cheated off of his line only to see a curling shot beat him off of the crossbar. The ensuing melee in the box resulted in a rebound effort buried into the back of the net to cap the scoring on the night.
Sampson said he was happy with his team's performance in the first half, and wasn't surprised that Yokohama took advantage of the substitutions he made in the second half.
"When we made some changes in the second half, we lost a lot of rhythm," he said. "There was just too much inexperience to play against what I thought was a very good Yokohama team."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.