L.A. Galaxy Continue Slow Start, Lose 3-1 To New England
As the heavens opened and the rain poured down, so too did the goals pour in for the visiting New England Revolution, the latest team to expose the 2012 Galaxy's sieve-like defense.
The Revolution scored two goals in the game's first 13 minutes and added a third in the second half on their way to a 3-1 victory before a rain-soaked crowd of 21,324 in Carson, Calif.
"We were certainly beat tonight from the opening kickoff," Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said. "We were very poor and deserved to lose the game."
After giving up only eight total goals in 17 MLS regular season home games in their title-winning season a year ago, the Galaxy have already conceded seven goals in the first three league home games of 2012.
"It was the exact same thing we have been doing in the first few games -- conceding sloppy goals," Galaxy striker Robbie Keane said. "Every goal we've conceded so far has been very, very similar. It's stuff you deal with when you’re a kid. We've only got ourselves to blame."
The bad news started before kickoff, with captain Landon Donovan left off the team sheet while nursing a quadriceps injury. Keane captained the team for the first time in his 10-game MLS career.
Former UCLA star and Revolution rookie Kelyn Rowe made a dream return to Southern California, giving his new club the lead in the game's 10th minute. Moments earlier Rowe's teammate, midfielder Lee Nguyen, had his shot cleared off the line by sliding Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza before New England captain Shalrie Joseph put the ball back into the box on a looping pass.
Rowe slipped behind the Galaxy defense, collecting Joseph's pass and hitting his first shot right at Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders, before smashing the rebound into the top netting for his first career MLS goal.
Almost exactly three minutes later, the Revolution doubled their advantage. Defender Kevin Alston charged into the box and slid a pass along the ground across four Galaxy defenders and into the path of the oncoming Chris Tierney, who slammed a left-footed shot inside the near post and past a stunned Saunders.
"It's frustrating. We knew how good we were last year," Galaxy defender Sean Franklin said. "We knew that teams feared us last year. I don’t think anyone fears us this year. Teams are coming here to our come, which they didn't do last year, and are beating us. That's something that we can’t do."
Tierney was a menace throughout the half, consistently getting behind the right side of the Galaxy's defense and forcing Saunders to come up with a good save on a 35th-minute free kick.
The Galaxy responded with its best three chances of the period, all coming in the half's final six minutes. With the field slick from a steady rain, Beckham slipped and fell on his backside as he hit a 39th-minute free kick. Still, he managed to put it on frame and forced a leaping save from Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Keane played his strike partner Edson Buddle through but the American forward rushed his shot and hit it wide of the near post. Keane shouted and gestured at Buddle after the play, seemingly calling for the return pass that never came.
Beckham had one more chance with the final kick of the first half but his low, bending free kick was pushed up and off the crossbar by Reis.
"I couldn’t change 11 players—that's what I told the team at halftime," Arena said. "If I had 11 substitutions, I would have considered that."
Instead, Arena made two of his three available substitutions, including removing Beckham. The English midfielder, who was second in MLS in assists last season, left the stadium before talking to reporters.
"Hopefully he's ready to be part of our next game," Arena said about Beckham. "I'm sure he’s not pleased about [being substituted]. But that’s not the issue of the game. The issue of the game is that 11 players for New England soundly outplayed 11 players for the Galaxy."
When pressed further, Arena told reporters: "Write about the game. I don't know any player who would be happy coming out at halftime."
Los Angeles made the brighter start to the second half, with Keane and midfielder Paolo Cardozo especially active. The Galaxy couldn't finish off any of the moves with a goal, however, and it cost them in the 65th minute.
In their first chance of the half, the Revolution's striker tandem put the game to bed, with Saer Sene heading Ryan Guy's cross past Saunders at the far post.
"They had three crosses today and three goals," DeLaGarza said. "That's unacceptable. It's something that we've been working on in practice the last two weeks because we know we haven't done well at that the first three or four games. Today, it didn’t pay off."
The Galaxy pulled one back in the 78th through the efforts of their own forward pairing. Edson Buddle played Keane in with a deft through ball and the Irishman calmly dribbled around Reis, waiting for the keeper to go to ground and chipping the ball into the back of the net.
Los Angeles couldn't add to Keane's goal, however, and lost for the second time in their three MLS games in 2012. They are tied for last in the West with Home Depot Center co-tenants Chivas USA on three points.
"When you come back in the locker room, it’s just different from last year," DeLaGarza said. "Everyone's down. Obviously a rough start to our season but we still have 30-plus games. We can't hold our heads down."
-- Next up for the Galaxy is a Saturday road date with Sporting Kansas City, who currently sit on top of the Eastern Conference with three wins in three games. Kansas City plays at the Home Depot Center against Chivas USA at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Sporting midfielder Graham Zusi leads the league with four assists.
-- Donovan, who had pneumonia earlier this month and has played through several minor injuries already this year, sat out his first game of the season for the Galaxy with a quadriceps injury. Arena said the injury isn't major and that "we think he'll be available next week." Donovan also left the stadium before speaking with reporters.
-- The Galaxy next play at the Home Depot Center in two weeks, an April 14 matchup with the Portland Timbers at 7:30 p.m.