Though the Galaxy's Edson Buddle wasn't able to find the back of the net for the first time in four games, his team's defense helped ensure their trip to Kansas City wasn't futile.
Donovan Ricketts made several clutch saves and helped offset a scoreless performance by the attack as LA and Kansas City tied 0-0 on Saturday. The game was the Galaxy’s first scoreless effort of the season, but the goalkeeping was strong throughout the match.
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"[Ricketts] had a good night," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. "It was apparent that it was going to be a low-scoring game, a one-goal game. Unfortunately, we weren't able to finish it off."
Perhaps a defensive battle between both sides wasn't totally unexpected. Both teams had allowed just one goal apiece entering Saturday.
Strong defending from the hosts kept Buddle from adding to his league-high seven goals scored, though the Galaxy’s red-hot striker was again the target of pushing, shoving and physical play.
But Ricketts kept up his end of the bargain and got the Galaxy a point regardless. Ricketts came up with six saves against the Wizards and picked up his fourth shutout of the season.
The Wizards were able to break through the LA defense more so than any of their other opponents this season. Even Real Salt Lake, who scored the only goal against the Galaxy this year, didn't have as many looks at goal as the Wizards had on Saturday.
The Galaxy defense was once again unfamiliar. Todd Dunivant and Omar Gonzalez have played every minute thus far this season, but Gregg Berhalter made his season debut next to Gonzalez in the middle, while A.J. DeLaGarza, who started in central defense last week to cover for an injured Leonardo, moved to right back as Sean Franklin’s injured ankle didn't allow him to travel with the team.
"I was glad to get back with the team," Berhalter said. "I've been out for a while. You always have to worry about your fitness in the first game and getting a result. Our team has won four games in a row, but I think holding on for a tie is a positive."
Though the Galaxy fielded their third consecutive new back line, it was the small dimensions of Kansas City’s CommunityAmerica Ballpark that seemed to play into the Wizards’ favor. It seemed the hosts were able to turn every deep ball into an opportunity.
However, the Galaxy have now finally faced some adversity. Leaving a road game with a shutout and a point may not be a three-goal loss—which it could have been had Ricketts not provided provided plenty of support—but ultimately the Galaxy failed to earn maximum points or score in a game for the first time this season.
"It was a very ugly game in a difficult venue," said Arena. "No surprise that it was going to look like that. I think the conditions were magnified [because of the field]. It was a difficult, ugly game. We knew that coming in, and we knew that when you leave."
Still, a draw isn’t exactly adversity.
The Galaxy get a great chance at redemption next weekend as they host expansion Philadelphia. The Union have yet to get a point on the road this season and have given up at least two goals in each of their five games.