This past weekend's 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake served as a wake-up call for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Despite outshooting their opponents and creating several more dangerous scoring chances, Real forced the Galaxy to swallow a bitter pill in putting an end to their four-match winning streak.
A combination of poor finishing and phenomenal goalkeeping by rookie goalie Jay Nolly led to the expansion team's victory. But if Saturday's game served as a wake-up call, then the Mother's Day showdown against the Colorado Rapids was an early warning sign.
In that game the shot count was 18-3 in favor of the Galaxy, yet they were able only to eke out a 3-2 victory thanks to a pair of penalty kicks -- including a controversial late decision. Again, lack of finishing and great play by the opposing 'keeper were the ingredients for a game that was a lot closer than it should have been.
"You can't have games like that. They really have two chances and score two goals," said Landon Donovan. "We get so many chances and don't answer."
Galaxy captain Pete Vagenas knows that the team is on the cusp of an offensive explosion -- it's just a matter of putting everything together.
"It's difficult this early in the season to try and be playing perfect soccer," Vagenas said. "We're not the perfect team yet, but all the ingredients are there."
This Galaxy team has been creating a number of good scoring opportunities, and actually is amongst the league leaders in goals scored. It's the opportunities that have gone by the wayside that are allowing teams to stay close.
Coming off the road loss to RSL, the Galaxy now face their biggest rival, the San Jose Earthquakes, in what should prove to be a hard-fought and emotional contest. If the Galaxy can convert their chances into goals as they did at the start of the recent run, the game could get out of hand quickly, as San Jose heads into The Home Depot Center with an injury-riddled lineup. Earthquakes defenders Troy Dayak and Craig Waibel are out for the season, while striker Brian Ching (hamstring) and midfielder Brian Mullan (ankle) will miss the first of 4-6 weeks out of the lineup.
Even if the Galaxy continue the trend of creating without finishing, Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson isn't ready to push the panic button.
"I'd be a lot more concerned if we weren't creating chances. I'm very happy with the way we're playing," said the Galaxy boss. "It's not just scoring the goals, but how the goals are scored."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.