CARSON, Calif. – Save for the faces on the other side of the field, Saturday’s LA Galaxy match at The Home Depot Center was nearly identical to the game played here exactly one week prior.
A late equalizer, however, did not come against the Red Bulls as it had against FC Dallas. The result was the visitors walking away with a 1-0 win, while the hosts were left to ponder a three-game winless streak that’s seen them drop to seventh in the Western Conference.
What made this match much more difficult to handle for LA was that it should have culminated in three points. But then again, so should have several other matches through this early season of discontent.
“It’s a bit of a broken record,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Even giving up a goal we have enough chances to create a couple of goals in this game.”
Despite being held scoreless, LA pushed forward and held the ball for long stretches of time. And despite several dangerous crosses from the David Beckham and six corner kicks, the Red Bulls stood firm.
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The lack of scoring was not due to a lack of effort, Galaxy players said.
“I don’t think we’re playing poorly,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “I don’t think anyone can watch that game [Saturday] and say we didn’t give good effort, we didn’t play hard, we didn’t play with endeavor and try to do things the right way. It just didn’t come off and we’ve had a few of them this year. It’s frustrating.”
Part of the problem was New York’s defensive stance. The visitors were seemingly content with dropping back and defending. The Red Bulls absorbed the pressure and saw their game plan through at the Galaxy’s expense.
“New York came here to get us on the break and defend with all of their players and that’s what they did,” Beckham said. "It was successful for them. It’s sometimes not the prettiest way of playing but it can be effective. We tried to break them down. We had our chances but we didn’t finish off the chances we had.”
The Red Bulls had one great scoring opportunity and took advantage of it. Joel Lindpere took a feed from Jan Gunnar Solli, found space in the Galaxy’s penalty area and beat Bill Gaudette to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead after 19 minutes. Kenny Cooper had a chance from just off the right post three minutes later but aside from that, the Red Bulls were not very dangerous.
“We sort of let them off the hook by falling asleep on that play,” Donovan said. “Lindpere made a good play and a good goal from that mistake but that was pretty much their only chance. It’s frustrating but as everyone knows that’s how the game goes sometimes.”
New York started Markus Holgersson and Tyler Ruthven in central defense, but the Galaxy were never able to test them much.
“They protected them by dropping all the players in front of them,” Arena said. “They just dropped a lot of numbers behind the ball and closed down passing lanes. They protected their center backs. They did a good job. At the end of the day, there were no goals scored. Mission accomplished on their part.”
Ultimately, even though the Galaxy broke down defensively, the opportunities for the club to get back into the game were there.
“At home we’re more than capable of getting a goal or two,” Arena said. “We have no one to blame but ourselves.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
HIGHLIGHTS: LA vs NY