For as much fun as Sunday night was for Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy, it was perhaps just as unpleasant for the Philadelphia Union.
Continuing their free fall in a season that’s gone from bad to worse, the Union were overmatched and outplayed in a 4-1 loss to the Galaxy at StubHub Center – their fifth defeat in the last six games.
And, perhaps predictably, they had no answer for the spurned Donovan, who assisted on the game’s first goal in the second minute and added a couple of his own to set the all-time MLS scoring record just days after being controversially cut from the US World Cup team.
“An inexcusable start,” Union manager John Hackworth said in his postgame comments. “We gave up a goal on a restart in the second minute, and then it took us a while to get into it. Finally, we get going and we start playing well. But we were never truly that dangerous in the first half and that was a problem.”
The Union certainly had many problems on Sunday, which included some ugly second-half giveaways that led to the Galaxy breaking the game open with what Hackworth called “too many easy opportunities.”
But for many of the players, everything came back to giving up a goal in just the second minute – which Union winger Danny Cruz said “changed the game completely.”
“We didn’t play well at all from the very beginning,” said Cruz, who started alongside Leo Fernandes and Antoine Hoppenot up top in what was an unconventional frontline. “You can’t give up a goal two minutes into a game and play from behind the entire time.”
While most of the attention was naturally focused on Donovan, Union midfielder Maurice Edu also played in his first game since being left off US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup roster.
But while he scored the only goal for Philly – on an 88th-minute penalty kick – Edu wasn’t nearly as effective as Donovan and was left searching for answers as to why his new team continues to struggle. When first asked his general thoughts on the game, Edu paused for more than 15 seconds, before concluding, “We let ourselves down.”
“We can’t keep playing in little segments – little glimpses – because that’s all for nothing,” he added. “At the end of the day, you’re not going to win many games if you concede four and just play in spurts.”
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Edu tried to spin a positive tone about the Union getting the chance to stay in Los Angeles and turn things around next weekend against Chivas USA.
But with just two wins through their first 14 games, it seems to be getting harder and harder for the frustrated players to remain positive.
“It’s unacceptable,” Cruz said. “And if we don’t clean it up, things aren’t going to turn around.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.