the old North American Soccer League had ceased to operate and only the indoor version was in play -- one of the greats of the indoor game, Juli Veee, would say 'lose a game, save a franchise'. Thankfully, those days are far behind us and the game has never been stronger in this country.
But Saturday night that was the feeling I got from what I saw at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake. Don't get me wrong; the young franchise is doing just fine. They have great facility in a lovely city with a community excited about the club. But Real had dropped two in a row. One was a loss at lowly Chivas USA and, to add further insult, the other was a loss to the A-league's Seattle Sounders. Real needed this game more, unfortunately for us Galaxy fans, than we wanted it. Final score: Real 2, Galaxy 1. In this case, lose a game, save a franchises' season ... maybe.
Missed chances are a killer, so many with so few goals to show from them. Peter Vagenas, if I know the young man, will have nightmares for months over missing a tap in on the doorstep in the first half.
Was it the carpet that came up and grabbed his foot?
Was he trying to be too cute and walk the ball into the open net?
Did he take his eye off the ball (heaven forbid)?
Whatever it was, it was ugly and damaging in the biggest of ways. You can bet Peter V. won't let that happen to him ever again. This was the most glaring of missed opportunities on the night, but not the only one as Jovan Kirovski and Pando Ramirez had great chances, too, and they, too, missed the mark. The Galaxy left the door open for a struggling team looking to save their season.
Prior to the match one concern for coach Steve Sampson was the club's defending on set plays. It might be the weak link of this team through the first month and a half of the campaign. Saturday night it bit the club in the shorts again as Eddie Pope scored off a corner. Sometimes you try too hard instead of just going with the flow and executing the way you know. Do your job. Mark your man. Clear the ball if it comes your way. Easier said than done. Goal Real.
Lets give a little credit to the home team here too. Real made the correct adjustments defensively, stretched the attack through the middle and executed their chances. Good job on their part. Clint Mathis still looks a bit soft out there but his pass to Jason Kreis in the 65th minute was vintage Mathis. The man can play and if he can rededicate himself and get in proper shape, Bruce Arena will have to seriously consider bringing him back into the national team - and speaking of team USA, Jason Kreis deserves a long look as well. All this guy does is work his tail off when he's on the pitch. Oh, and he scores goals.
Why is it so difficult to win away from home? I wish I had the answer and, frankly, I think the rest of the organization wishes they had the answer too. Honestly, I felt the Galaxy would roll over RSL. Maybe that's the problem -- overconfidence. At least this broadcaster was overconfident.
Funny thing about this club Real Salt Lake -- the colors are perfect and the uniforms are right on. However, the first two people I run into in Salt Lake are Russian and the team hotel has a staff full of eastern Europeans. How about Dynamo Salt Lake? I digress.
NEXT UP: The San Jose Earthquakes come to town on Saturday. The Quakes are, well, quaking. Former Galaxy forward Brian Ching (hamstring) is hurting. Craig Waibel (knee) is banged up. Even Brian Mullan (ankle) is hurt. And then there are Danny Califf, Alejandro Moreno and Chris Aloisi. San Jose will be a tough task - -as always. Something tells me Landon Donovan will be a marked man for this one. You think? Nothing new for the Galaxy's No. 10, it doesn't matter which uniform he wears. Opponents know where he is on the field and when they don't they can usually find the ball in the back of their own net.
I hope to see you at The Home Depot Center at Cal State Dominguez Hills. How about another sellout Galaxy faithful? Call 1-877-3-GALAXY for tickets. Or better yet, click around this website and purchase your seats online. (Get the Galaxy Jersey 4-Pack >)
I truly believe this latest road setback for the Green and Gold is just a bump in the road. Looking back, final execution was the Galaxy's problem. This group is better than that. They'll get it done and the wins will come on the road again -- even if the road has to be The Home Depot Center. OK, out of L.A. as well.
For now, this is Joe Tutino, your friendly voice of the Galaxy. That's how I saw it from high atop Rice-Eccles Stadium. See you Saturday at the friendly confines of The Home Depot Center.
Joe Tutino is in his seventh season as the English radio voice of the Los Angeles Galaxy. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of the Los Angeles Galaxy or Major League Soccer.