CARSON, Calif. – Scoring first doesn't guarantee three points, but the LA Galaxy wouldn't mind taking their chances with a lead on Saturday against Montreal (4 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, watch LIVE online).
Too often this season, the Galaxy have been on the wrong side of the game’s first goal. And as the defending MLS Cup champs look to shake off their sluggish early-season form, jumping out to a 1-0 lead is one way the club hopes to combat their ills.
“Scoring first will help a lot,” LA captain Landon Donovan said. “In all these games when you get scored on first, it becomes very difficult no matter what time of the game it is and we can’t keep letting that happen.”
The Galaxy have given up the first goal in six of their nine regular-season matches. Throw in a pair of CONCACAF Champions League games and that rises to eight out of 11. Compare that to 2011, when the Galaxy allowed the opponents to score first in just eight of their 34 matches, and this year’s stats seem even more dire.
When opponents break through first, it has several effects. First, it throws LA off their game plan. It also shakes the club’s confidence, and a rattled team that has to chase games does not make for success.
“From a confidence standpoint, it will help a lot," Donovan said. "If we can score, we can play differently and play a little bit more conservatively and play to our strengths, which are countering and being good when we get chances."
Allowing the first goal does not necessarily equate to a loss, though. In 2011, the Galaxy got points in half of the games where their opponent scored first. This year, though, they are 1-5-2 in all competitions when the opponent takes the first lead.
The players are at a loss for their defensive shortcomings.
“It’s very hard to put the finger on what exactly,” Galaxy striker Robbie Keane said. “We’re obviously conceding goals, we know that. When teams score against us, we’re fighting hard to chase teams, trying to break them down. Hopefully we don’t concede any goals to try and win the game.”
While falling behind early or sometime in the second half is equally as difficult, getting off to a strong start will be crucial against the Impact.
“It’s important that we start the game strong, because I think in many of the games this season, we started the games and teams have gotten two, three good chances in the first five minutes, which shouldn’t happen,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. “You have to set the tone with the way you start the game and then hopefully we can push on from there.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.