By Alex Baker
The LA Galaxy beat the Puerto Rico Islanders, 2-1 on the road last night. Unfortunately that result wasn’t enough to scale the daunting 4-1 aggregate slope the Galaxy had set themselves at the bottom of by losing 4-1 at home to the Islanders last week.
Bruce Arena played a 4-3-2-1 formation against the Islanders that looked straight out of Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan playbook. Landon Donovan was in the middle in the Wesley Sneijder role while Edson Buddle and Tristan Bowen were the twin strikers up front.
A backline of four covered by three holding midfielders was meant to ensure the clean sheet the Galaxy needed to climb out of their aggregate hole. The plan was working well enough before Edson Buddle brought down Marco Velez in a clumsy challenge inside the box. Velez certainly made a meal of it, however the ref was convinced and the home side was awarded a penalty kick.
The Islanders’ David Foley stepped up and sent Donovan Rickets the wrong way, finding the back of the net to make it 1-0 Islanders.
Ironically Velez was involved when LA kind of found an answer just five minutes later. Donovan shot from inside the 18-yard line forcing a save from keeper Bill Gaudette. However the ball pinballed off Gaudette into Velez and into the back of the net. The ensuing own goal made it 1-1.
With just five minutes remaining in the match Shawn Franklin provided a touch of class for LA. Receiving the ball from just inside the 18, Franklin turned and fired a beautiful shot, beating Gaudette at the near post.
Unfortunately it was too little too late and as the clock wore down you could read it on Bruce Arena’s face that he knew his side were heading home.
The Islanders now have a spot in the Champions League group stages while the Galaxy, having also been eliminated from the US Open Cup, are left to focus all their energies on maintaining their standing atop the MLS table.
In other team news the Galaxy have just claimed rookie goalkeeper Brian Perk off of waivers from the Philadelphia Union. The former standout UCLA keeper was waived off by the Union on Friday after having been selected by the club in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
Meanwhile Landon Donovan’s schedule showed no signs of letting up as it was announced that both he and Edson Buddle would be included in the U.S. squad that will face Brazil in a friendly on August 10th.
The Galaxy will meet Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid in a friendly at the Pasadena Rose Bowl this Saturday. It has been reported that, as of mid-week, more than 60,000 tickets have already been sold.
The game against Real Madrid is set to be Galaxy legend Clint Mathis’s final career match. After eleven years in MLS, the veteran midfielder has decided to hang up his boots for good after Saturday’s match.
Galaxy’s next MLS outing will be away to Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls on August 14th.
By Alex Baker