L.A. Galaxy Fall Again, Lose 1-0 To New York Red Bulls
Missed chances in the attack, breakdowns on the defensive end and another night without three points for the reigning MLS Cup champions—that was the story again Saturday at the Home Depot Center, as the visiting New York Red Bulls won 1-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000.
The Galaxy dropped to 3-5-1 in MLS (10 points, 7th in the West), matching their loss total from the entire 34-game season in 2011.
"It's a bit of a broken record," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "We had enough chances to create a couple goals in the game. We had the ball at the feet of our best players and someone has to make the plays when they're there. We didn't make the plays."
Los Angeles outshot New York 14-7 and the Red Bulls scored on their only shot on goal in the match, a 19th-minute strike from midfielder Joel Lindpere.
"It's getting even more frustrating week after week," Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. "We had our chances and we didn't finish off the chances that we had. We got sloppy in defense with a couple plays and obviously it's disappointing to lose at home."
The Red Bulls (5-1-3, 16 points) were also shorthanded on the night, playing without Major League Soccer scoring leader Thierry Henry (hamstring) and five of their top defenders who were out either injured or suspended.
"Give New York credit—I think they did what they came to do," Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said, referring to the Red Bulls defensive approach to the match. "We sort of let them off the hook by falling asleep on [the goal]. If I'm not mistaken it was pretty much their only chance. It's frustrating, but as everyone knows, that's how this game goes sometimes."
The Galaxy made the brighter start to the match and looked to involve strikers Robbie Keane and Edson Buddle in the early going. The pairing hadn't scored a goal in the previous five league matches.
Keane broke through the patchwork New York defense in the 13th minute but his chipped shot over goalkeeper Ryan Meara was saved off the line by a lunging Markus Holgersson.
It was Buddle's turn three minutes later; the forward deflected an open header wide of the goal, a play set up by a cross from Todd Dunivant on the left flank.
"Todd put a good ball across and I thought the ball was in the goal," Buddle said. "I got a head on it but it wasn’t enough and it skipped past the goal."
It was the Red Bulls, however, that scored the opening goal in their first real chance of the game. Midfielders Jan Gunnar Solli and Lindpere ran side-by-side down the left wing on a counter-attack, with Solli slipping a pass inside to Lindpere at the edge of the six-yard box. Lindpere avoided a retreating Beckham and hit his shot over Galaxy goalkeeper Bill Gaudette into the upper right corner of the goal.
"I don't think New York came to attack much today and they didn’t but they got an opportunity and they capitalized on it," Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. "It's a tailor-made way to play on the road for them and it couldn’t have gone any better for them."
The goal was Lindpere's first of the season and the 11th of his MLS career.
"We didn't do our job because we got scored on," Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza said. "We haven't posted a shutout this year so we've got to do that sooner rather than later."
Los Angeles struggled to regain their early attacking form after falling behind, failing to create a scoring chance again until the 38th minute. Even then, the attack was more comedic than calculated as Keane's shot heading toward goal hit and was stopped by Buddle, who was getting up to his knees after falling in the box.
The Galaxy ended the half with only two shots on goal, despite having 58 percent of the possession during the period.
It was more of the same for L.A. to start the second half, with the Galaxy dominating the possession but unable to force Meara into any difficult saves.
Substitute forwards Pat Noonan and Chad Barrett, who combined to score a late equalizer in the Galaxy's 1-1 draw with FC Dallas last Saturday, were brought on in the 68th minute to see if they could repeat their feat against New York.
Barrett was on the end of a neat passing exchange from Beckham and Donovan in the 74th, which resulted in Barrett shooting wide of the far post under pressure from Holgersson and Meara. Five minutes later, Barrett got open in the box again but volleyed a Beckham cross 15 feet over the crossbar.
New York's Meara, a rookie from Fordham, was perhaps the man of the match and came up with two crucial saves in the game's final ten minutes. In the 82nd, Meara tipped a long drive from Juninho over the crossbar. The Red Bulls goalkeeper then blocked a low drive from Donovan in the penalty box in the 86th minute.
The final chance of the match fell to Beckham's feet, but the English star hit his low shot from the top of the box wide of the far post.
"We haven't found a player that can consistently get us goals," Arena said. "There have been plays where the ball needs to end up in the back of the net and it isn't and it's costing us dearly."
-- Next up for the Galaxy is a Saturday trip across the border to Montreal for the team's first ever MLS match against the Impact. The expansion club is tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference on 11 points from 10 matches and upset league leaders Kansas City 2-0 on the road on Saturday. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. Pacific Time.
-- The Galaxy next play at the Home Depot Center in two weeks in what is technically a road match against HDC co-tenants Chivas USA. The next official home game is a May 23rd match against Western Conference-leading San Jose.
-- Entertainer Alfonso Ribeiro, better known as the character "Carlton" from the '90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, sang the national anthem before Saturday's game.
-- Stuart Pearce, manager of Great Britain's Olympic soccer team, was on hand to watch Beckham play in person ahead of picking his squad for this summer's competition. "It wasn't the prettiest of matches for him to come see," Beckham said. "He's coming to see a player he's thinking of picking for the Olympics... him coming all the way over here [to the United States] is obviously good for me."