CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy want to believe they awakened from a brief slumber during that second-half comeback in Wednesday’s triumph at Colorado, but they can’t be sure until they see how they start Saturday night’s clash with Vancouver (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
It’s the first of four straight games at StubHub Center, one of them "away" against Chivas USA, and they expect that to help as they look to bounce back from horrid showings last weekend in Columbus and in the first half against the Rapids.
Their problems are older than that. They’ve conceded the first goal, no later than the 23rd minute, in their past four games and five of their last six, and although they rallied twice for victories and for a draw against San Jose, addressing the issue is a priority.
"We’ve clearly showed that we can come back and respond to being down, but [falling behind] just makes it harder," right back Dan Gargan said following Friday’s training session at StubHub. "Especially with a lot of games coming up [six in 23 days], we could use some performances that are [not so difficult].
"It’s important for us to keep clean sheets, and that’s the first and foremost thing for our backline and our defensive goals. Just to make sure that we’re going at them early and putting them on the back foot, as opposed to taking one and the kind of trying to claw our way back, is important."
LA was aggressive but fell behind against the run of play in a 3-1 victory over Portland and the 2-2 draw that followed with the Earthquakes. They lacked the required energy in Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Columbus and again while falling behind twice by two goals in the first half of the 4-3 win at Colorado.
"Collective mistakes," coach Bruce Arena called it. "Things that are correctable. Not easily correctable, but correctable."
Landon Donovan said that it was about "mentality more than anything."
"I think we’ve been probably a little naïve in the way we’re going about games," he said. "We can’t leave our defenders stranded the way we have, but at the same time, just the mentality from everybody and how we defend and how we aggressively get after the ball defensively. In the [3-0 win at] Seattle a few weeks back, everybody was tuned in for 90 minutes, getting after the ball consistently. When we don’t do that, which happened in the Columbus game and the first half of the Colorado game, we get scored on. So the blueprint is pretty simple, and now we just have to make sure we do it."
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The three-goal second half in Colorado might have turned things right, but "that’s to be seen, I guess," left back Todd Dunivant said.
"Every game you try to come out, you try to start well, and it didn’t happen," he said. "Why? Who the hell knows? You could blame it on a million things, but it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s how you respond and that you don’t let it happen again. We responded well, and now we’ll see how we do the second part."
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.