CARSON, Calif. – In 2011, the LA Galaxy were the first MLS club to record a shutout. This year, they are the only team without one.
Heading into Sunday’s tilt with Portland (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online), the Galaxy (3-8-2) have zero clean sheets in 13 regular-season games – last year at this time the club had five shutouts and a 6-2-5 record.
“It’s definitely a blight,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant (above) said of his team’s inability to get a shutout. “No question that’s something we’re aware of.”
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Since head coach Bruce Arena’s first full season in charge, a stingy defense had been the Galaxy’s calling card. The club allowed 31 goals in 2009, 26 in 2010 and 28 last season. The Galaxy have allowed 21 goals already this season and, barring a drastic turnaround, will yield the most goals in the Arena era this season.
Teams now are finding space in the LA defense that simply wasn’t there before.
“It’s not been a hallmark of this team the last three years,” Dunivant said. “We’ve been a team that’s been difficult to break down. It’s really been defense first, defensive-minded and that hasn’t been the case this year.”
Picking up three points against Portland might be the team’s primary goal, but picking up a shutout is a close second.
“That’s something that we’re certainly focused on, as a defense and as a backline [that's something] we take pride in,” Dunivant said. “That’s something we’re looking to do.”
When the Galaxy will return to action on Sunday, a slew of players will not be available.
Robbie Keane is in Europe for Euro 2012. Mike Magee, Hector Jimenez and Michael Stephens are each suspended for the match while Edson Buddle, Adam Cristman, Andrew Boyens and Dan Keat are out with injury. Additionally, Bryan Gaul, Leonardo and Juninho are also nursing injuries.
“We’ve obviously been aware of those facts and we’ve been preparing our team to play without the suspended players and the injured players,” Arena said. “We’ll be prepared to play.”
Perhaps the most glaring area of concern is at forward. Keane and Buddle have combined for 17 starts, and Buddle has played in all but one game.
Arena, however, likes what he sees from Chad Barrett, who will likely start at one of the forward positions. Barrett has no goals in 381 minutes this season but does have three assists, including assists in each of the club's past two regular-season games as well as the Open Cup match on May 29.
“He’s improving as we get into the season,” Arena said. “It’s good to see he’s come back from that injury from last year. We’re hopeful we can get a lot of good play out of him.”
Former Columbus and Toronto FC defender Andy Iro is on trial with the Galaxy, but no determination has been made on his status and Arena said there is no timetable in which to make one. Iro is familiar with Southern California, as he was a part of the UC Santa Barbara squad that lost in the College Cup final at The Home Depot Center in 2004.