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LA Galaxy Are Their Own Worst Enemies

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.

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  1. tcp

    January 31, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    When you win the Supporters Shield and fail to win the MLS cup, everybody decrees the season a failure. That’s just real dumb, but a lot of people thinks that way.

    It does not matter if you win the Supporters Shield by one or a hundred points. You are the best team in the regular season. End of Story.

    But a lapse of one game, one loss at a crucial time and the season is lost; failure. You have not won “the MLS CUP”

    The Galaxy threw “a lot” of newbies into the fold, for the season; Phelps, Bowen, Leonardo and Juninho, all rookies, all received considerable game time. Add to the second year people such as Gonzales and De La Garza, you have considerable INexperience. Dallas fed on that pressed hard and the Galaxy youngsters, panicked and lost

    But Bruce Arena has the right formula; a solid core of aging yet very experienced players, offset with talented but inexperienced rookies and young foreign players. The Galaxy should win their division, the Supporters Shield and with some luck, the MLS Cup. If that is being your own worst enemy; then bring me on!

    • Charles

      February 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Unless the schedule is unbalanced of course.

      For instance, Columbus won the regular season 2 years ago, I refuse to call it the Supporters Shield, with an easier schedule. It was VERY close, many teams could have benefitted and might have won by playing their easy schedule.

      We all can agree calling the Regular Season winner The Champion, would be pretty dumb. Many tried and are still trying, but that is crazy.

      Salt Lake won it all that year.

  2. LS

    January 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    All American team sports have playoffs. Single table is more logical and in my mind, more fair, but the playoffs system of doing things isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Too much $$$ to be made.

    • and how

      January 31, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      How is it “more fair”?

      You can beat a team two out of two times and finish 1 point behind them in the standings. Which of those teams is really the better team?

      • Flex Buffchest

        February 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm

        The team that is 1 point ahead. They won more of their games, or lost the least amount of games. That’s makes them the better team. So, you’re saying that if Wolverhampton beat Chelsea twice during the regular season, Wolves are the better team? No. Wolves also lost more of their games too.

  3. Tom

    January 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    We should have both, the regular season SS and the MLS Cup. *coming from a Rapids supporter.

    • Dan

      January 31, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      THANK YOU!
      The Supporters Shield should be renamed MLS Champion. Then you have an MLS Cup and a US Open Cup (should be alot more important than it is now) That is 3 solid tournaments to have.

      As for the Galaxy, Chelsea reminds me alot of them last year. Insane start and fell apart toward the end. The Galaxy can easily win the championship but they have a lot more to wrestle with than any other team, New York is probably pretty close to them. I think Arena has incredible pressure to win the Cup this year. The problem is that ANY team can win a few games back to back and thats all it takes to win the MLS Cup. Arsene Wenger said that any club England can be top of the standing in the first couple of months. So how is that a real champion then?

      • Charles

        January 31, 2011 at 2:28 pm

        IF you are going to name the regular season leader the champ. Which will never happen and I am very much against.
        THEN why would you have a playoff ? That makes NO sense.

        I am all for way more playoff games to make sure it is not just a team that won a few games, but….
        LA was exposed in the playoffs. They beat up on Seattle early in the year when the team stunk, when Seattle was better they barely got by them.

        Then when they played Dallas in the second round, not even close. They had no chance to beat Dallas. They could have played best out of 25, wasn’t going to happen.

        • CoconutMonkey

          January 31, 2011 at 7:47 pm

          LA? Exposed? No way man. Would you say Dallas exposed RSL’s lack of quality too? I bet you an internet beer that all 3 teams will finish in the top 6 this year.

          LA proved their class from March-October. They simply got beat by a very good Dallas team (a team they had already beaten twice). That’s not a revelation. That’s just soccer.

      • Nick

        January 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm

        Who cares where you end up in the regular season if you cannot win when it matters. The world cup and the champions league only take qualification or regular season into account to seed. People need to realize playoffs in American leagues serve the same function as the champion’s league in European leagues.

        • CoconutMonkey

          January 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm

          @Nick: I would argue that our Champions League serves the same function as their Champions League. However, if our playoffs followed a format similar to them, I would be quite happy. No East v West nonsense there.

          “Who cares where you end up in the regular season if you cannot win when it matters”.

          I care. Every match should matter. It’s not that a post season is bad. It’s just that ours is really bad.

      • Charles

        February 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm

        Arsene Wenger is a moron. I was watch Man City play at Christmas, they were saying that would be the first time they had led the English top league since like 1928 ( probably have the year wrong ).

        They lost. But I am confident many teams are in that camp.

  4. Tom

    January 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    We should have both, the regular season SS and the MLS Cup. * this coming from a Rapids supporter

  5. Brett

    January 31, 2011 at 11:22 am

    This article is really a shining example as to why the conference & playoff system should be done away with. If you demolished the league for the first half of the season, and then mantained your position throughthe rest of the year, you deserve the title. *coming from a D.C. supporter

    • Flex Buffchest

      January 31, 2011 at 11:58 am

      I agree Brett. *coming from a Galaxy supporter 😉

      But this should be true for any team. If you dominate the league and have the best reocrd, you should be considered the champs. More importance needs to be put on the Supporter’s Shield. I’m not against having playoffs to define a champion, but the main focus should be on the team with the best record.

    • montana lucky

      January 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      I disagree. I love playoffs. I dont like the way they have been structured in MLS. I don’t know what the solution is but there needs to be a greater advantage for teams who finished atop the regular season.

    • SanJose

      January 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      Pshhh whatever LA had all the advantages… homefield advantage, millions of extra dollars in payroll on high priced superstars, and they didn’t come close. That wasn’t one of those games where you say oh man LA were unlucky not to be through. They got annihilated.

  6. Charles

    January 31, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Love the article. Actual game talk !!!

    LA decided after not being able to keep up with Dallas to go older.
    Robert Hay’s analysis is spot on. They have one injury and this team is in trouble. Hedjuk in the game = good luck against almost every Western Conference team.

    Their young guys are good and they have more experience, but the rest of the league has that too. Virtually every team.

    • Dan

      January 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      LA has the single best defensive line in the league in relation to their age by miles. Bringing in some older guys is spot on, teach the kids and having the experience with the youth energy is what we needed. They will ease the transition for Franklin, Gonzo and AJD to become solid experienced defenders.

      …we still need a young up and coming striker though. dumb move to sell Bowen

  7. carella211

    January 31, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I love Donovan because he’s meant so much to the Nats, but there is no question he is the biggest diver in all of MLS. He complains CONSTANTLY, and acts like a total snob on the pitch. So I’m glad every time the Galaxy lose, and every time he goes up against an official with a spine and doesn’t give in to him.

  8. CoconutMonkey

    January 31, 2011 at 9:53 am

    “Selective memory, Landon, or is it only a foul when it’s committed AGAINST you?”


    I don’t know about you. But as far as I’m concerned, I’ve never committed a foul in any sport, ever. 😉

  9. LS

    January 31, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Great article, but I also disagree with Donovan. He talked about blatant fouls leading to goals in the Dallas playoff game. Someone should remind him of his own foul (actually, he ran up behind Jackson Goncalves and shoved him to the ground with two hands), after which he passed the ball to Beckham, who scored almost immediately. That was the 10/24 match at the HDC, the Galaxy’s final game of the season. Selective memory, Landon, or is it only a foul when it’s committed AGAINST you?

    • Jonathan Vera

      January 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      I remember that, and yeah, that was a total foul. But if you recall the ref that night was not calling anything. After the match the media asked LD if that “shove” was a foul. he said, “not in this game.”

  10. Rex

    January 31, 2011 at 9:21 am

    It is because the Galaxy need a TEAM and not a revolving door of stars and exUSMNT players within 5 years of retirement. When was the last time the focus of the main Galaxy players was actually on the Galaxy?

  11. Robert Hay

    January 31, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Great article Jonathan, but I would disagree with Landon’s analysis of the match. Dallas took advantage of a patchwork defense for LA (which was still better than most teams but still) and the Galaxy had no answer for Ferreria. This offseason I think the Angel for Buddle trade makes them slightly worse (I liked Buddle in his prime over Buddle just past his) but the key for LA is staying healthy. If they stay healthy they should be favorites, but I don’t know if you can count on that for this team.

    • Jonathan Vera

      January 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      Oh, i agree with you, Robert. The defense spotty playing made it easy for Dallas to take advantage of. But the Galaxy had the players and talent to come back, but they got frustrated and instead of driving into the area, but opted to go with sloppy and hopeful crosses from the midfield into the penalty box. That is a no no. To me, that is the first sign of frustration. They lost the game before it was over.

      A cool head and team work. That’s the only way, they or any other team can go far in any league.

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