CARSON, Calif. — Bruce Arena knows this routine all too well.
The LA Galaxy manager spent months last year steering away concerns about his team, all pointed at one singular problem: Take away Edson Buddle, and you take away their goals.
The Galaxy are seemingly back in a familiar spot this season, this time with MLS top scorer Landon Donovan gone from the lineup and LA coming off a scoreless draw against D.C. United last Friday, just the second time the team has been shut out this season.
Arena isn’t having any of it.
“We’re fine, believe me,” he said. “I don’t know how many goals we scored last year, but Edson didn’t score all of them. He just happened to score the first eight or nine. And now Landon has scored [seven] in a row and everyone concluded that that was a crisis.”
Buddle (who actually scored the Galaxy’s first seven goals in 2010) gave the Galaxy a dangerous weapon up top last year, but his eager replacements have not been able to fill the void. Juan Pablo Ángel, Miguel López and Chad Barrett have combined for six goals in 2,531 minutes, an average of one goal every 421 minutes.
That has left much of the scoring load to fall on Donovan, who has carried the weight admirably. He scored seven consecutive goals for the team during recent a run that propelled them to the best record in the league, and he’s averaging a goal every 121 minutes, second only to DC’s Charlie Davies (one goal every 99.5 minutes) among players with at least five goals this season.
Arena, though, said it was not a negative that one player has amassed nearly the majority of goals. After all, Buddle accounted for 17 of the Galaxy’s 44 goals in 2010 and the club won the Supporters’ Shield.
“There’s nothing wrong with it,” Arena said. “The attacking players, you want them scoring goals. If they happen to be scoring all of them, that’s life. That’s not a negative. That’s a positive. That’s like saying Barcelona has a lot of problems with Messi scoring all those goals, or Real Madrid … holy [crap] are they in trouble, Ronaldo has scored 40 goals in the league.”
Much like his La Liga counterparts, Donovan’s goals are a byproduct of his squads collective efforts, Arena said, and as long as the team continues producing strong efforts, the chances will be there.
“The reasons those guys score goals is they’re playing on a good team,” Arena said. “It’s not an accident. It’s part of the teamwork.”