More on the Galaxy defense: a small statistical sample, but an alarming percentage just the same

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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.

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.

World Cup: Saudi team safe after plane caught fire mid-flight

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The Saudi Arabian national team arrived alive and well in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Monday after a terrifying incident that saw their plane catch fire in the air.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The blaze was caused by “a technical failure in one of the airplane engines,” which the airline, Rossiya, claims was caused by a bird flying into the engine. Each of the planes engines were reportedly in operation upon landing at its final destination.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation posted a message on Twitter later on Monday, saying they “would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”

The Green Falcons will face Uruguay in Rostov, hoping to rebound from their tournament-opening 5-0 loss to Russia on Thursday, in each side’s second game of Group A action on Wednesday (11 a.m. ET).

Seismologists clarify Mexico fans didn’t cause earthquake

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Seismological Service says there was seismic activity around the country’s capital Sunday, but it wasn’t linked to soccer fans celebrating their country’s game-winning goal vs. Germany at the World Cup.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The service says in a report that there were two small earthquakes at 10:24 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. The goal came around 11:35 a.m. local time.

A geological institute reported Sunday that seismic detectors had registered a false earthquake that may have been generated by “massive jumps” by fans.

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

Mexico’s Seismological Service explained Monday that the city’s normal bustle of traffic and other movement causes vibrations that are detected by sensitive instruments.

It says those vibrations notably quieted during the match as people gathered in front of TVs to watch, and rose after the goal.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 6 — Colombia vs. Japan; Salah’s debut?

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Day 6 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Tuesday — and would you believe it? — there’s another three games on the schedule. This whole “back-to-back-to-back games of soccer” thing isn’t so bad.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Up first, it’s the 2018 debut of Colombia, winners of tens hundreds of millions of hearts in 2014, as they take on Japan. In the day’s other Group H fixture, it’ll be Robert Lewandowski and Poland facing Sadio Mane and Senegal. Star power aplenty.

Then, we swing things back around to Group A, where the hosts Russia will look to continue their hot start against Egypt with Mohamed Salah expected to make his World Cup debut.

Below is Tuesday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Tuesday, June 19

Group H
Colombia vs. Japan: Saransk, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Poland vs. Senegal: Moscow, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group A
Russia vs. Egypt: St. Petersburg, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE