The LA Galaxy rustled up more than enough reasons why they failed to take any points in Saturday's game at Colorado, with the first being poor performances by too many players, that they had no need to look Marcelo Sarvas' way.
The Brazilian midfielder's absence -- after spraining his left medial collateral ligament last week in training, an injury that will sideline him as long as two months -- clearly played a role, with LA missing his tenacity and ability to keep the ball moving.
It also forced the Galaxy (2-2-2) to change their tactics, adding a target forward to the mix while dropping Landon Donovan back into midfield.
“It does change the way we play,” Donovan, who joined Stefan Ishizaki, Baggio Husidic and Juninho in the diamond midfield, said on his team's postgame telecast. “Marcelo does a lot of dirty work on the team. I filled his spot, but it's a different role.”
Rob Friend was paired up front with captain Robbie Keane, and that forced a considerable adjustment from what was working, often brilliantly, in LA's previous four games. Their diamond has two primary purposes: to clog space in midfield, making it difficult for opponents to build an attack; and to get the Galaxy's best passers together amid constant interchange among the front six.
Friend, at 6-foot-5 a pure target forward, provides a more static component.
The Galaxy did well in tempering the Rapids offense, especially in the second half, and they created enough chances to score a few times and should have had one on Keane's 62nd-minute penalty kick after Friend drew a highly questionable foul.
They outshot Colorado, had far more possession than the Rapids, but they were out of sync.
“We had possession, but we really didn't do anything, you know?” Keane told reporters in Commerce City, Colo. “Sometimes you can have possession just for the sake of having it, so there was no penetration. We just looked very kind of lackadaisical.”
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Sarvas provides an edge, a testiness, that the Galaxy were missing in midfield. Colorado took advantage, winning the second balls LA expects to win, and keeping their visitors off-balance.
“You can make a bunch of excuses, but at the end of the day, we need to show up and we need to run and we need to fight,” Friend said on the telecast. “That's the No. 1 thing, if we don't show up and we get outbattled and outbeat, you're going to lose the game. [The Rapids] showed up today, and we didn't. Simple as that.”
Sarvas might have been the difference, no?
“Certainly, Marcelo would have been great to have there, but that's not an excuse,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “We have enough players that can execute and win games for us.”