Before we fly our virtual whirlybird out of L.A. Galaxy airspace, let’s take one more quick look at the defensive issues on Bruce Arena’s club:
This time the assist comes from Brian Straus at the Sporting News. He points out how Bruce Arena keeps underselling Omar Gonzalez’s absence.
It’s not hard to understand why Arena keeps doing this. He’s the manager, and part of his job is to protect his players’ belief in themselves. Specifically, he needs under-fire center back A.J. DeLaGarza to rise to this moment. He needs right back Sean Franklin to have the confidence, while defending one-on-one in the corners, that his center backs can deal with any crosses he concedes.
So Arena is spinning, doing his best to arrest any signs of sagging confidence. It won’t help matters if the wise, highly respected manager is boohooing about injuries and absences no longer in his control, since that horse is way out of the barn.
Still, his words cannot alter the reality that this team sorely misses MLS 2011 Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez. Let NBC’s Kyle Martino say what Arena can’t (from Straus’ piece in the Sporting News.)
The reality is that a lot of people underestimated Omar Gonzalez,” former L.A. and U.S. national team midfielder Kyle Martino, NBC’s new soccer analyst, told Sporting News. “We were talking to Landon (Donovan) last week, and he said, ‘Not only was Omar the defender of the year, but for me, he was the (league) MVP. He bailed us out so many times because of his size, his athleticism and because of the way he reads the game.’”
Here’s the raw data on it all. Remember, this is a Galaxy team that had such a fantastic back like a year ago, backstopping a side of experts when it came to managing matches. Only seven times in the entire 2011 season did the Galaxy allow more than one goal in a game. That’s seven times out of 34. Compare that to what has happened already this year, in five matches over two competitions.
- 2-2 draw at Toronto
- 3-1 loss at home to Real Salt Lake
- 2-1 loss at home to Toronto
- 3-1 win at home over D.C. United
- 3-1 loss at home to New England
Conceding more than a goal was a statistical rarity last year (just 20.6 percent of the time.) This year it’s the complete opposite so far. More than one goal has dropped into Galaxy goal in 80 percent of the games, an admittedly small sample, but an alarming percentage just the same.