By Alex Baker
(Carson, CA) – The LA Galaxy‘s effort to defend their MLS Championship suffered another setback as they endured their third home loss of the season, this time to the New England Revolution. During a rain-soaked 90 minutes in which LA looked more like the visiting side, New England scored three times with LA only being able to find the back of the net once, courtesy of Robbie Keane.
New England took the lead through Kelyn Rowe whose close range blast into the top of the net put the Revs up 1-0 in the 10th minute. The Revs then doubled their lead just three minutes later courtesy of Chris Tierney whose edge-of-the-18 effort made it 2-0 in the 13th.
“Everyone’s upset,” said Keane afterwards. “When you concede two goals in the space of a few minutes, I think the whole team was frustrated.”
Edson Buddle nearly managed to put LA on the score sheet just two minutes later when he was played in on goal. Unfortunately the Galaxy striker sent his effort woefully wide.
As the half wore on sheets of rain began to pour down upon a home crowd that was 21,342 strong but appeared to diminish as the weather bore down on them and the home side teetered on the edge of complete disarray.
With just seven minutes remaining in the half, LA again came close to netting a goal when they were awarded a free kick from 25 yards out. David Beckham stepped up to the spot and his effort appeared destined for the top corner before it was tipped over by New England keeper Matt Reis
As the first half moved into injury time, the Galaxy continued to struggled to make do without key personnel like Landon Donovan who was out due to tightness in his quads and Omar Gonzalez who will be out until at least mid summer because of a long term injury.
Buddle squandered another golden opportunity when he was played in by Keane in first half injury time. But with only the keeper to beat the striker again put his effort wide of target.
A moment later Keane was bundled over just outside the 18 and LA were awarded another free kick. David Beckham again stepped up to mark and put his shot on target only to have it deflect off of Reis onto the crossbar.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made two substitutions at the half, taking Beckham off for Michael Stephens and Marcelo Sarvas off for Mike Magee.
When asked about his substitutions after the match, Arena was fairly damning in his assessment of his team’s performance.
“I couldn’t change 11 players,” said the former US national coach. “That’s what I told the team at half time. If I had 11 substitutions I would’ve considered it.”
As the rain continued to fall and more and more seats emptied, it appeared that this was a night when little was destined to go right for the Galaxy.
Their passing appeared predictable at times, their strikers ponderous in front of goal, the their defense looked porous without the Gibraltar-like presence of Gonzalez.
Things went from bad to worse for the Galaxy just after the hour mark when New England’s Saer Sene connected with a close range header and slotted the ball between Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders and the near post, to make it 3-0 New England in the 65th.
In the 71st minute Arena made an attack-minded substitution, bringing on striker Chad Barrett for midfielder Paolo Cardozo.
LA’s sole bright spot of the evening came just seven minutes later. Played through on goal by Buddle, acting Galaxy captain Robbie Keane rounded Reis and sliced a shot into the far corner to make it 3-1.
With hope temporary replenished the Galaxy attacked the game ferociously for the next ten minutes or so.
They nearly scored again in the 82nd when Keane flashed the ball across the mouth of goal. Mike Magee managed to connect with a header but his effort was saved by Reis.
As the match ticked into stoppage time Buddle was again played in on goal by Keane and yet again the striker shot wide of the target.
The final whistle was blown moments later and the Galaxy were left with more questions than they have answers as they struggle to come to terms with how they could have lost three out of four fixtures at the Home Depot Center this season after going undefeated at home throughout all of last term.
“What’s the difference?” asked Keane afterwards. “I couldn’t tell ya. If we knew that we woulda sorted it out a few games ago. Whether it’s lack of concentration I’m not too sure. We have to rectify it very, very quickly because we’re conceding too many goals.”
The Galaxy, who currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference table, will hope to find some solutions before they face Sporting Kansas City away on April 7.