Storm clouds were (literally) gathering as the Galaxy practice ended Monday at Home Depot Center, the suffocating miasma of the sticky air seemingly reflecting the deepening gloom engulfing the team.
Veteran Pete Vagenas, usually one of the friendliest and most accommodating Galaxy players, walked off the field, his gaze locked at the ground straight ahead in a clear sign he was in no mood to talk.
Landon Donovan hobbled by, a leg encased in ice, a metaphor for a cold, stark season seemingly staggering to an inevitable conclusion.
I was there to gauge the mood of the team after another dispiriting loss last week to the Chicago Fire – and it wasn’t difficult to discern:
“We’re a little bothered, frustrated by our last game,” said rookie defender Sean Franklin, out of Cal State Northridge. “We’ve got four games left. I’m pretty sure we’ve got to win out or at least get three of the four. We’ve got to come up with a better mentality this weekend in Columbus.”
Franklin acknowledged the Galaxy just keep making the same old errors:
“We talked about how we had to step up to the midfielders and not give them a lot of space because they will shoot. They got space, (Rolfe) dribbled and exactly what we didn’t want to happen, happened. … We need to do a better job communicating.”
Coach Bruce Arena agreed:
“In general I don’t think we played well,” he said. “We’re too inconsistent. Our defending as a group isn’t good enough. We have some major holes open in our defense and that’s not attributed only to defenders, it’s attributed to the entire group.”
I’ll have more from Arena on the Galaxy’s psyche in Tuesday’s column and whether he can bailout the Galaxy any better than Congress could the banks today.
A couple of notes from training:
*Goalkeeper Steve Cronin practiced today for the second time since his injury.
*Defender Eduardo Dominguez was also back practicing with the team for the first time since making a flying visit to Argentina where at 12:52 p.m. Sept. 15 his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child – a son. Mateo Dominguez weighed in at about 6 pounds 6 ounces.
*Angels outfielder Juan Riviera was at practice today and had his picture taken with Donovan.
*The Galaxy reserves (1-5-2) lost 2-1 to their Chivas USA (2-3-3) counterparts Sunday, Maykel Galindo getting the winning goal in a come-from-behind victory in the 81st minute. Izzy Sesay, 18, scored the Galaxy’s opener from a Pete Vagenas cross. Newly-acquired Chivas USA midfielder Dejair assisted on Keith Savage’s equalizer.
Chivas USA reserves lineup: Lance Parker, Eric Ebert, Jim Curtin, Bobby Burling (Keith Savage 46), Gerson Mayen, Kraig Chiles, Daniel Paladini, Dejair Ferreira (Ian Etherington 66), Jorge Flores, Anthony Hamilton (Maykel Galindo 60), Roberto Nurse.
Galaxy reserves lineup: Josh Saunders, Joe Franchino (Ely Allen 46), Julian Valentin, Scott Bolkan, Vardan Adzemian, Mike Randolph, Peter Vagenas (Alvaro Pires 46), Brandon McDonald, Josh Tudela (Mike Muoz 59), Bryan Jordan, Israel Sesay.
Sunday college scores:
UCLA men 2 (2-3-3) Cal State Northridge 2 (4-3-1)
LMU men 1 (1-2-4) Oregon State 1 (3-4-2)
Cal State Dominguez Hills men 3 (9-1-1) Cal Poly Pomona 1 (3-6)
Arizona State 1 (6-2-3) Long Beach State 0 (6-3-2).
UC Irvine 2 (6-5) Pepperdine 1 (4-5-2)
Cal State Northridge 1 (6-3) San Francisco 1 (4-5-2)
Cal State Dominguez Hills 1 (6-5) Cal Poly Pomona 0