FRISCO, Texas – The LA Galaxy came up empty Saturday night against the top team in MLS and consequently found themselves out of the Supporters’ Shield race.
But LA coach Bruce Arena doesn’t seem to put much stock into it.
Instead, Arena’s message following the loss was about finding a way to play better down the stretch of the season and grab momentum heading toward the playoffs.
That, according to Arena, didn’t happen Saturday night.
“I don’t think it was a very good game. I don‘t think either team played well,” Arena said, conceding they played better in the second half than they did the first. “I thought it was a little sloppy. There were some decent chances created by both teams.”
In addition, he said not all of his team was in good enough condition to play their best version of soccer this late in the season.
“We’re playing some players right now who aren’t fit, trying to get them moving along,” Arena said. “That doesn’t help. We’ve got to use the last two games to get our team ready for the playoffs.”
One area Arena said his team must improve is their defense on set pieces. The Galaxy are familiar with FC Dallas succeeding in that category as well, conceding two corner kick goals in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal loss in September, both initiated by Dallas playmaker Mauro Diaz.
It happened again in the 39th minute on Saturday, with Diaz connecting with defender Walker Zimmerman for the game’s only goal – the Galaxy’s 10th set piece goal conceded this season.
“It’s something we work on – the guys are aware of it,” Arena said of his team’s set piece woes. “[It was] a pretty foolish goal to concede at the end of the first half. Everyone knows their responsibilities. We shouldn’t be conceding that goal.”
With the loss, LA also lost footing in their path to bypassing the knockout round. FC Dallas clinched one of those spots with their win, but the second is a toss-up with Colorado, though the Rapids have four games left as opposed to the Galaxy’s two.
But that’s not something LA are thinking about, despite only having two games left to tune up before a run at another MLS Cup.
“The playoffs aren’t in our mind at all,” Arena said. “Playing these games and closing out the season are. We know we’re going to be in the playoffs.”