— Nick Green (@LAsoccerblog) September 12, 2016
The PSA was shot on Christen Press’ home field as it were, Chadwick School on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Maybe Bruce Arena really does hate the U.S. Open & doesn't want to win it. Or perhaps Dallas is a good team, pulled it out in the end.
— Andrea Canales (@soccercanales) August 11, 2016
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 11, 2016
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena gave his team a B-minus for the first half of its season. After back-to-back league victories, it seems the Galaxy are poised to pull up their final grade by season’s end.
L.A. held on for a gritty 1-0 win over Seattle on Saturday at CenturyLink Field as a clutch save off the line from A.J. DeLaGarza preserved a lead from Robbie Keane‘s 15th-minute goal.
The team that couldn’t stop blowing leads now has two straight clean sheets in MLS play and three straight across all competitions.
“We’re learning,” Arena told reporters after the game. “We lost points in maybe three or four games this year in similar games on the road. It’s good to see we’re growing and understanding what we need to do to close out games.
“On the day, you know you’re going to come in here and it’s never going to look real good. You just have to get a goal and grind it out, and we did.”
All three of the Galaxy’s losses this season came from goals given up in the final 15 minutes and stoppage time of games. During the first 16 matches of the season, L.A. (7-3-8) conceded 10 goals in the final 30 minutes.
The Sounders (5-10-2) outshot L.A. 22-7 Saturday. But when under pressure from a desperate Seattle team chasing a much-needed victory, the Galaxy defense did not break this time.
“We defended a lot tonight and we had to,” DeLaGarza said. “Those are games that we lost points on earlier in the year, and we got out of here with the win today.”
Keane scored his second goal in as many games since returning from international duty. The Irish striker, who celebrated his 36th birthday Friday, tallied his sixth goal this season in only eight games played.
Goalkeeper Brian Rowe recorded four saves to preserve the shutout, but the biggest save of the game came from DeLaGarza. The defender stopped a shot from Sounders rookie Jordan Morris after Rowe came off his line, leaving the net empty.
Steven Gerrard committed a costly defensive error that led to the Galaxy’s season-ending playoff loss to the Sounders at CenturyLink Field last season. Several months later, the 36-year-old midfielder will return to Seattle in truly fine form.
Gerrard is third in MLS with seven assists in 12 MLS games played heading into Saturday’s noon game. He is coming off his first multi-assist game of his short Galaxy career and has assists in back-to-back games.
“I don’t want to settle for that,” Gerrard said. “I want to keep pushing and keep trying to add to my numbers. Certainly in this position, I know I can create chances. I’ve done it all my career.”
The Galaxy will play their Western Conference rivals three times this month, twice in MLS road games and once at StubHub Center for a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal. While the series is also heated as the two teams consistently battle for top prizes, L.A. has nearly always come out on top.
“When they came into the league, I think that they called us out. They thought they’d challenge us, and it didn’t work out well for them,” forward Mike Magee said. “They’re still trying to be what the Galaxy is. They’re doing a great job. They have great fans and a great team, but I’d say, to be honest with you, they’re a little jealous.”
Seattle had a dreadful start to the season. Typically in the hunt for a top playoff spot, the Sounders are stuck at the bottom of the Western Conference with 17 points. Four of the team’s Western Conference-leading losses have come at home.
A three-game scoreless streak for Galaxy players at home is nothing Robbie Keane can’t fix. The Irish striker returned from a month of international duty and scored in the Galaxy’s 2-0 win over Vancouver on Monday at StubHub Center.
Keane has been hampered by injuries and missed five more games while with the Irish national team, but has scored in five goals in six MLS appearances. He’s one of the league’s leaders in goals per 90 minutes played, averaging 0.71 goals per 90 minutes.
His score against Vancouver was a beauty as he curled a long-distance shot into the top corner.
“Robbie’s been putting them in top corners for 20 odd years,” Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson said. “I’m sick of seeing it to be fair. He tried to smile at me and I didn’t want to give him a smile back, but he’s a top, top player.”
Steven Gerrard notched two assists in the game, serving the ball in for Keane and sending a corner kick in for Jeff Larentowicz, who headed home his first goal of the season in the 47th minute.
Larentowicz admitted that he got away with a push, but was happy to record his first goal in a Galaxy uniform.
“It’s good (to contribute),” Larentowicz said. “That’s the goal, to be in the lineup and to be with the team, to help us win games. All those things came together tonight.”
The Galaxy haven’t won an MLS game since May 8. They’re on a seven-game winless streak, but they have a little momentum from a U.S. Open Cup win on the road now and their star strikers back.
Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Keane are back after international duty and available for the team’s 7:30 p.m. game against Vancouver on Monday.
The Galaxy snapped their scoreless streak, but couldn’t shake their other bad habit of allowing late goals.
After Giovani dos Santos ended the team’s 371-minute scoreless streak in MLS play with a goal assisted by Steven Gerrard in the 69th minute against San Jose on Saturday, Chad Barrett answered in the 90th minute with a header off a free kick to force a 1-1 draw at Stanford Stadium.
For the sixth time this year, the Galaxy allowed a goal in the last 15 minutes of the match. The Earthquakes have scored a goal in last 15 minutes against the Galaxy all three times the California rivals have played this season, with L.A. going 1-0-2 in those matches. The Galaxy have not won in MLS competition since May 8, going winless in their past seven matches.
The L.A. offense generated several chances and had six shots on goal. Gerrard missed a header just wide and had another shot in the post.
Ashley Cole was sent off for a foul and abusive language in second-half stoppage time, thus suspending him for the next MLS match. Jelle Van Damme picked up a yellow card, so he, too, will miss the next match due to yellow card accumulation.
Head coach Bruce Arena told reporters the team will likely appeal Cole’s red card.
After a U.S. Open Cup match against Portland on June 29, the Galaxy continue MLS play against Vancouver at home on July 4.
More than three whole games have passed since the Galaxy last scored a goal in MLS play.
Although the Galaxy have some dangerous moments, they amounted to nothing against the No. 1 team in the Western Conference in a scoreless draw against Colorado at home. The team hasn’t scored in 302 minutes of MLS play, stretching back to a goal from Mike Magee in the 58th minute against Montreal on May 28. L.A. is winless in six straight games.
“We’ve got to look dangerous, that’s not an achievement,” midfielder Steven Gerrard said. “We need to go a step further and start creating better chances and taking them chances and getting goals. … We’ve got to win ASAP.”
The Western Conference’s highest-scoring home team has two consecutive scoreless draws at StubHub Center. A Galaxy player hasn’t scored at home since May 8 as all the team could muster in that time has been an own goal against San Jose.
“They’re not terrible results, but you start sliding down the table,” defender Dave Romney said of the ties at home. “And that’s definitely not what we want to be doing going into the summer.”