CARSON, Calif. – With more than two-thirds of the 2010 MLS season complete, the Los Angeles Galaxy sit top of the league with 43 points.
For one night, position in the table may not have been such a good thing. The Galaxy were outgunned by the scrappy and hungry Kansas City Wizards, falling to their Eastern Conference foes by 2-0 at Home Depot Center on Saturday.
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“We got out-competed tonight,” LA midfielder Chris Klein said, “Kansas City played like a team that was fighting for their playoff lives. And we played like a team that was sitting at the top of the table with nothing to lose.”
The Galaxy still hold the top spot in the league with 43 points, but Columbus climbed to within two points while Real Salt Lake are three back after Saturday’s games.
Against Kansas City, the Galaxy hardly looked like the team that had its way with the league for the first stretch of the season. Kansas City attacked from the onset, pressured often and even after scoring continued looking for goals.
The visitors’ grit and determination made it difficult for the Galaxy to function.
“We got out-competed tonight at the start of the game,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “All this was about was fighting and scrapping tonight and we lost that part of it. That was the difference in the game – they played harder.”
Kansas City’s first goal was a product of such tough play. Kei Kamara and Todd Dunivant leapt for a ball and Kamara came down with it. The alum of nearby Cal State Dominguez Hills raced down the right flank, fighting off Leonardo’s mark and slipped a ball to Davy Arnaud. With two Galaxy players around him, Arnaud took one touch and beat Donovan Ricketts from six yards out.
Dunivant said Kamara’s hustle resulted in a foul but failed to point to that as the reason for the loss.
“It was a foul but we still could have made the play,” Dunivant said. “You can’t point to one play for the whole game. We’ve got 90 minutes to do something about it, and we didn’t.”
Once again, the Galaxy had to chase the game. Chris Birchall came close to equalizing with a pair of shots early in the second half but was unable to beat Jimmy Nielsen.
“The start of the second half, their goalkeeper made some pretty big saves which could have made a difference in the game but you have to make those plays,” Arena said. “That’s the fine line between winning and losing – they made plays and we did not.”
Jimmy Conrad put the game out of reach in the 70th minute when he got his foot to Arnaud’s free kick.
“The second goal was an accident,” Arena said. “Who the hell knows, you know, I can’t figure that one out.”
Still, the game slipped away once Arnaud’s attempt beat Ricketts 12 minutes in.
“Again giving up an early goal really hurts,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “and then aside from that they played harder, they played like a team that’s more desperate which is true. They out-competed us and they came in here to our place and outfought us, and that’s unacceptable.”
While the rest of the league continued to close in, the Galaxy still hold an advantage and still are the team to beat, Donovan insisted.
“All that being said… we’re still top of the league,” Donovan said. “We can’t keep losing or we can’t say that much longer but eight games to go, if you told me at the beginning of the year we had eight games left and we’d be top of the league, I’d still take that.”