CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have been down this road before, too many times just this year, so they know the bitter landscape. It's disheartening to be back after another end-of-game defensive collapse cost them a point last weekend in Portland, but if cowed again by the circumstances, the reigning MLS Cup champs remain confident.
“It was without a doubt frustrating,” left back Todd Dunivant said as the Galaxy began preparations for Saturday's clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps at the StubHub Center. “At the end of the day, we again played really well, on their field and in a hostile environment controlled much of that game. We keep taking that as a positive and don't get too down on ourselves, but we have to learn from our mistakes, and we keep saying that, and we let it happen again.”
The Galaxy (9-8-3) have conceded 15 goals from the 76th minute on this year, eight of them in stoppage time, and have dropped 10 points in the process. It had happened just two weeks earlier, when LA dominated San Jose, then conceded twice in stoppage for a 3-2 defeat.
They haven't gotten enough from their dominance, and that plays into the problems. Instead of killing off tight games, settling for the point on the road, the Galaxy have pushed forward too many times, then falter when foes counter. That happened Saturday, when LA streaked forward with seven players then got caught as Portland cleared their box and attacked up the right flank.
A.J. DeLaGarza and Portland's José Valencia were tracking a ball up the right flank, and DeLaGarza was judged to have touched it before it rolled over the end line for a corner kick that Andrew Jean-Baptiste nodded home in the 94th minute.
“I was going to try to let it run out of bounds,” DeLaGarza said. “I don't know if it took a hop or what. Valencia came in pretty strong, and I didn't even see where the ball went, because I was on the ground. It was just a bad mistake on my part.”
Said Dunivant: “We have to back each other up. Guys are going to make mistakes, there's going to be errors throughout the game. That's when you need a teammate to step up – several teammates to step up – and have their back and make plays after that. We haven't been doing that enough.”
The Galaxy have been resilient after tough losses, and after they pulled out a tight July 4 victory over Columbus and dominated FC Dallas three days later, they believed they'd turned a corner. They don't want to spend too much time dwelling on failure.
“It's a balance,” Dunivant said. “You have to have a short memory, but you also have to learn from it, you have to take time ... It's good to talk about it, it's good to review it, it's good to kind of analyze what everyone can do better, and that's the key for us, keep learning from it.”
That's the plan going forward.
“I know we have the players and the character to always be able to bounce back from anything, and we've shown it time and time again” Omar Gonzalez said. “We have a lot of heart in our team.”
“I don't question this team's character, this team's mettle, one bit,” he said. “We have a group that knows how to respond to these situations and has done it time and time again. Unfortunately, we've had to do it time and time again, but we have done it.”