On Saturday against Real Salt Lake, the LA Galaxy found themselves in unfamiliar territory: trailing at halftime.
LA again found themselves trailing at the half on Tuesday, but this time the comeback was not to be. Striker Luke Rodgers put the New York Red Bulls ahead 1-0 in the 32nd minute, and the Galaxy’s failure to get a breakthrough in front of goal meant Thierry Henry’s 59th-minute strike would be more than enough to give the hosts the win.
The Galaxy now return home facing something they haven’t seen for a while – a break. The team will have the rest of the week off.
“This team definitely isn’t down; we’re going to enjoy our break,” Galaxy forward Chad Barrett said. “Everybody’s going to get to put up their legs, and that’s going to be really important heading into the playoffs.”
Tuesday’s match in New York was the Galaxy’s ninth game in 30 days, a stretch that, fittingly, kicked off with a 2-2 draw at Sporting Kansas City on Labor Day. During that time, the Galaxy have played games in two foreign countries (CONCACAF Champions League losses at Morelia, Mexico, and Alajuela, Costa Rica) and have had no more than three days between matches.
The loss in New York was the Galaxy’s third in that span – but the only league setback – and while it did not necessarily sit well with the team, it was understandable.
“Obviously 2-0 is difficult,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “We had to play with a bunch of young payers. No excuses, but we didn’t play particularly well. I think the break is going to be good for us."
Like most of their games during the stretch, the Galaxy missed key players against the Red Bulls. LA were without regulars Landon Donovan, Mike Magee and Sean Franklin due to injury and Robbie Keane due to international absence.
“We had a lot of players that weren’t on the field tonight,” Arena said. “But that’s not an excuse.”
Still, because of their resiliency during September and early October, the Galaxy have built up quite the lead over Seattle in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. The Sounders trail by seven points and will need to win home games against Philadelphia (Saturday) and San Jose (Oct. 15) in order to keep hope alive.
And despite the loss to the Red Bulls, the Galaxy can take care of their own business even if the Sounders take care of theirs.
“It’s not the worst thing, losing,” Barrett said. “We have a chance to go home and clinch the Shield at home.”