The LA Galaxy have lost six of their last eight games, all told, have conceded 10 times in the final 15 minutes of MLS games this season (and four more in CONCACAF Champions League), and have surrendered eight goals in successive losses in the past week.
There's plenty with which to be frustrated, and the Galaxy is disappointed by all of it. But they are not disheartened.
“It's a little bit like 'Groundhog Day' right now,” Landon Donovan said on the club's postgame telecast following a 3-1 loss Saturday night at Real Salt Lake. “We're playing well enough for long stretches of the game. This was always going to be a tough game, a tough opponent. We knew in the second half they were going to put a lot forward and press us, and we go from in one minute Robbie [Rogers] hitting a good cross, I almost score, and a few minutes later, we're picking the ball out of our net again.
FULL BOX SCORE AND MATCH STATISTICS
“So it's frustrating, and we've got to make plays when they count. I keep saying that, but it's the reality, and we've got to do a better job.”
LA's young lineup was again without captain Robbie Keane and center back Omar Gonzalez, both away on international duty, and left back Todd Dunivant, sidelined by a quadriceps injury. Donovan noted that “there's no doubt the game would look different” with all three on the field, “but that's not an excuse.”
“We're in a great position and doing just fine up to 82 and 83 minutes,” Donovan said. “[Missing key players] happens to teams throughout the year. That's why you have 28, 29, 30 guys on the roster, not 11 or 14. So that's not an excuse. Obviously, we want those guys back quickly, but we've got to do our job when they're not here.”
The Galaxy was in last weekend's game at New England until the 87th minute, but the Revolution turned it into a 5-0 rout with three goals from that point. LA was even with RSL until the 84th minute on Saturday, then gave up two goals to forward Olmes Garcia.
“It doesn't taste good,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said. “We're certainly not pleased about that, but we need some guys to step up, we need our leaders to be leaders, we have to have some of these young kids learn quicker on the job.
“It's a horse race. We're in the middle of a horse race, we're not at the end, so we know what's ahead of us.”
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The Galaxy again struggled to create despite a new 4-3-3 alignment (that played out as a 4-3-2-1 most of the way), and the difference in possession -- with RSL holding onto the ball for 60 percent of the game -- caused LA problems. It's “tough,” defender A.J. DeLaGarza noted, “to defend the entire game.”
However, these last two losses weren't as bad as they appeared, Donovan insisted.
“The feeling from an effort standpoint and the way the game went isn't that [it was so poor], but the reality is you look at the score, and it's bad,” he said. “We've got to change things. There's no question. The status quo isn't cutting it. ... We're putting ourselves into a little bit of a hole right now, and we've got to dig ourselves out.”
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.