CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy had been scoring goals nearly at will since mid-June, especially at StubHub Center, where they'd won nine in a row – including U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League – while hitting the net 43 times.
Now they've gone 189 minutes without a goal, following up a dismal shutout loss two weeks ago at San Jose with an alternately thrilling and frustrating scoreless draw Saturday night against Montreal. It raises the question: Have the Galaxy lost their mojo?
“I don't know how you are using two games to determine the state of a team where we're 29 games into the season,” head coach Bruce Arena responded when asked during his post-game news conference. “I don't think the roof's caving in. I think we're OK.”
LA (13-8-8, 47pts) looked good defensively, limiting Didier Drogba's effectiveness behind strong showings from center backs Omar Gonzalez and Dave Romney, but the attacking precision they've used to destroy foes the past couple of months wasn't to be found.
“It was clear to see it was very frustrating,” said captain Robbie Keane, who had LA's best chance, a one-on-one showdown won by Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush in the 35th minute. “We weren't at the races tonight. A lackluster performance, but full credit to them. They made it hard for us, they defended well, but we certainly weren't at the races.”
A muggy night following a brutally hot week in Southern California didn't offer any favors, as both teams were dragging much of the game, but Arena downplayed the conditions.
“We weren't a good attacking team tonight. We just weren't sharp,” he said. “We looked a little heavy-legged – they did probably as well, and, obviously, [attribute] some of that to the heat and humidity, but on the night we weren't good and have to accept that and move forward.”
Arena wasn't pleased, he said, with “bad passing, inability to beat players one-on-one, bad crossing, not aggressive looking at the goal.”
Keane said there were “a lot of factors” for the subpar performance.
“You could see we had [last weekend] off. It looked like that,” he said. “Everyone wasn't sharp [as] we usually are, and you could see that in the performance. ... Fairly simple, we didn't play as well as we can. Sloppy at times. First half, I think we could have been a bit more crisper with our passing in the final third.
“When we had chances to counterattack at times, we should have went quickly instead of trying to use that extra pass, which gives them time to get back in the defense, so I think we just need to be a bit sharper.”
Are the Galaxy slumping?
“Nah,” Keane said. “It's the way it goes. It happens to all of us. It's only a couple of games. I wouldn't get too worried about it.”
There were certainly some pluses.
“I think that's one of the positives to take away from this game, is that our defense was solid and we put out a shutout,” Gonzalez said. “We haven't had that since maybe early July, sometime around then. So that's one of the positives.”
He's right. LA hadn't posted a league shutout since a 4-0 romp over Toronto FC on July 4. It was Donovan Ricketts' first clean sheet since returning to the club at the end of July.
“Bit frustrating in the attack,” Gonzalez added. “We, obviously, wanted more, especially at home, where we can be so dangerous. And it just wasn't clicking and wasn't going our way.”
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.