Last year, Los Angeles Galaxy had an incredible season. They dominated the first half and had a rocky second half, but still managed to stay atop the table despite the absence of David Beckham for the majority of the season, and Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan out for World Cup duties. Unfortunately, the LA club fell short in the play-offs.
The 2010 run for the MLS Cup was far from perfect for the Galaxy. They experienced two major flaws that were costly for the team, complacency and frustration.
During the summer LA was well over 10 points clear from the second place team (either Real Salt Lake or Columbus). This favorable and comfortable position in the table caused the Galaxy become complacent and lax on the pitch. What results that followed were draw and draw, loss after loss. Fortunately, they were so far up in the standings that they still manage to stay in first place despite the slump.
They only time the Galaxy really showed up to play was when their position was threatened by RSL or the Crew. The pressure for a second place squad seemed to light a fire underneath them and actually play. However, once they were three or four points clear, it was back to complacency.
In the postseason, LA walked through the Seattle Sounders, but were destroyed and embarrassed by FC Dallas.
Dallas brought the pressure, force and made it a physical contest that agitated the home team until they self-destructed.
“When things don’t get called and lead to goals, it’s frustrating,” said captain Landon Donovan after their 3-0 demise to Dallas. “In the first goal, I think [Eddie Lewis] gets pushed in the back and fouled and they continue on and score, that makes it frustrating.”
The frustration that ensued resulted in sloppy and hopeful passing, poor final touches and another two goals by the visitors.
“We should have kept playing our football the way we’ve played all season, but we panicked a little bit and couldn’t get back in the game,” confessed David Beckham after the game.
As the 2011 training camp goes underway this week, the Galaxy need to work on those two aspects.
The talent is there and is fine. Donovan will be back after a much needed break. Beckham will play his first full season since the 2008 campaign. Striker Juan Pablo Angel will make his LA debut and bring his goal scoring power to the frontline, and their youngsters are a little bit more mature.
Do not question their talent, but rather by skeptical on if they have what it takes to deal with situations and events on or off the field and utilize that or convert it to a positive.
This management will dictate the Galaxy’s chances of achieving MLS gold this season.