CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy have hardly forgotten Saturday's devastating defeat to California Clasico rivals San Jose, but they made a good show of it when they turned up for work on Monday morning.
With two important home games this week, Thursday against Columbus (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online) and Sunday against FC Dallas, they need to quickly digest what went wrong at Stanford, where a 2-1 advantage turned into a 3-2 defeat as the Earthquakes tallied twice in stoppage behind Galaxy-beater Alan Gordon.
“Anytime for us in sports when something like that happens, you have to have a real short-term memory,” said midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, who was on the field for the collapse. “I came in the locker room this morning, and everybody was ready to go. This game on Thursday can't come soon enough.”
LA lost almost identically to the Quakes in last year's first meeting — Gordon scoring the stoppage-time winner then, too — and have been punished repeatedly at the close of games this season, conceding 11 goals in league play after the 80th minute, seven of them in stoppage, and dropping nine points in the process.
“A couple mistakes in the end, and Bruce [Arena] talked to us long,” said Juninho, one of two starters on the training field Monday at the StubHub Center. “[He just said] a couple goals we missed in the end of a game like that and this cannot happen again.”
Mastroeni, acquired two weeks ago from Colorado, said the starters' video session ought to help.
“The basics of it are what can we do better, where should the attention be,” he said. “Some of those things you get caught up when you're up a man. Sometimes it's just a lack of concentration on all our parts. We're pros, accept that, and hit this game hard on Thursday.”
Mastroeni said the Galaxy need to be smarter at the end of games.
“We had the opportunity to either polish off the game [by finishing chances] or taking the ball to the corner flag and ending the game through better possession ...,” he said. “You can't departmentalize the game of soccer. It's all dynamic, it's all flowing. And if a certain set of circumstances happen just prior to [the meltdown], we're not talking about the latter part [now].
“The idea is to control the game when you have control of it. As ridiculous as that sounds, to do what you can when you have control of the game and not let it get to these frantic, emotional parts, because when the game becomes emotional, reasoning starts to sit by the way side and you start to do some very emotional things.”