Licking their wounds after a slow start to the season, the LA Galaxy entered Saturday's match at Sporting Kansas City intent on leaving with three points.
While it did not happen, the club fought hard to ensure that their fortunes changed. Ultimately though, it was the team's inability to move the ball around the field that hurt their chances in a 1-0 loss.
"We came to compete today, but I don’t remember us connecting five passes in a row," Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee said. "Sporting Kansas City played at a high level today. They’ve got some amazing players, and some good guys coming off the bench."
The Galaxy's latest loss is their third of the 2012 season. It was also Sporting KC's fifth win in as many tries. Kei Kamara scored the game's only goal and was just one of a handful of players who gave the Galaxy fits.
HIGHLIGHTS: KC 1, LA 0
"Physically, they’re strong and extremely fit," Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. "They’re really willing to run and go at you. During the first half in particular, they did a really good job of moving the ball. We unsettled them in the second half, but they did a good job taking advantage of the openings we gave them."
LA had allowed seven goals in three regular-season games before Saturday afternoon. While Sporting KC found the back of the net late in the first half, the game was an improved defensive effort from the first part of the season.
"There are some things we did well tonight," Donovan said. "Overall, we limited their chances. We had a few goalscoring chances ourselves, but lacked the quality to get a point."
Ultimately though with Kamara, Sapong and Zusi pulling the strings, the hosts were too much to handle. Combined with a sellout crowd that made its presence felt, the Galaxy had too many challenges to overcome.
"They’re extremely hard to play against in this stadium," Magee said. "They pressure you and they’re hungry to win.The atmosphere is also amazing. The fans are right on top of you, so that makes it tough for the road team."
The Galaxy made four changes from the team that lost 3-1 to New England a week ago. Paolo Cardozo, Marcelo Sarvas and Andrew Boyens were out of the lineup due to coach's decision, while David Beckham missed the game due to back problems. In their place were Donovan, Magee, Tommy Meyer and Michael Stephens.
Perhaps the number of changes to the lineup hurt the Galaxy's ability to possess the ball and break down Sporting KC's defense, but Beckham's absence may have also limited the team.
"When he isn’t in the lineup that will hurt our ability to create chances," Donovan said. "But that was only part of the reason we were lacking offensively."
Despite the loss, the Galaxy hope that Sporting KC will line up opposite them once more in 2012.
"I hope we can play them again," Donovan said. "Because that means we would have made it to the final."
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.