Morning after: Thoughts as LA Galaxy take an early vacation

Photo by Ted S. Warren // Associated Press

Photo by Ted S. Warren // Associated Press

I want to preface this by writing that I, like Steven Gerrard, Giovani dos Santos and Donovan Ricketts, was a midseason addition to the Galaxy. I took over the Galaxy/soccer beat in August and since then, I’ve been frantically trying to learn as much about this team as possible. There’s still much for me to learn.

I can’t wrap up the entire season, because to be honest, when this season started, I was still in college. But here are some of the things that stood out to me as the season came to a close:

Keane kept off score sheet for first time in more than a month

Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos have had a good relationship on and off the pitch this season, mostly stemming from their history at Tottenham together. Keane said last week that in some ways, dos Santos is like his third son and that he acts as a sort of father-figure or older brother to the 26-year-old Mexican international.

On Wednesday, their relationship proved fruitless. They just weren’t on the same page at all and only connected on two passes (graphic posted with about five minutes left in the game).

It was a somewhat quiet performance for Keane, who was doing everything short of actually breathing fire down the stretch. He scored 17 goals in the last 14 MLS games for the Galaxy. Prior to Wednesday, he had scored in four straight games. Against the Sounders, he only had one shot. He was called offside three times. Midfielder Steven Gerrard, another one of his former teammates in Europe, only connected with him on one pass (graphic posted with five minutes left in the game).

Sebastian Lletget’s sixth-minute goal was the first MLS goal scored for the Galaxy by someone not named Keane since Sept. 27.

Late-season slump
Let’s start with the numbers: one win in the last eight MLS games and 17 goals conceded during that time.

It’s a bad slump to end the season, but also consider that the Galaxy finished the regular-season with five playoff-bound teams. Interestingly enough, the only one they beat was FC Dallas, the West’s No. 1 seed.

Outside of those five games, the Galaxy also faced San Jose on the road (difficult, rivalry environment), Didier Drogba and Co. at home (Montreal finished the season on a 6-2-1 run with Drogba leading the charge) and Real Salt Lake on the road (the road monster strikes again in an underwhelming performance against a team that didn’t have that great of a season). Those are eight tough games.

Then consider the types of opponents the Galaxy played immediately before their final eight games:

  • Aug. 23 vs. New York City FC (Final record 10-17-7, seven in the East): An over-hyped star-gazing event that featured a clearly overmatched NYC FC team that was just getting used to its new players. And no Frank Lampard.
  • Aug. 15 at FC Dallas: The one outlier in the month of August — not only a rare road win, but one against a good team.
  • Aug. 9 vs. Seattle: The Sounders didn’t have Clint Dempsey, didn’t have Obafemi Martin and didn’t have Osvaldo Alonso.
  • Aug. 1 at Colorado: A road win, yes, but the Rapids also finished last in the Western Conference and tied NYC FC with 37 points on the season so not all too impressive.

When the Galaxy looked unstoppable in August, maybe it was more their competition looking bad than them looking good.

Midseason acquisitions

The previous item first crossed my mind when I was talking to A.J. DeLaGarza in advance of the FC Dallas game in September. The team had hadn’t scored in three games at the time. I asked him what happened since the NYC FC win. He mentioned the schedule but also the continued integration of the team’s midseason additions.

“People say you can buy championships, it’s definitely not that easy,” he said. “You have a lot of players coming in midseason. To get them adjusted to the lifestyle and the system in general I think takes time.”

Photo by Ted S. Warren // Associated Press

Photo by Ted S. Warren // Associated Press

Lletget, despite fading for a period of the season, was the team’s best midyear signing.

Gerrard floundered down the stretch, missing easy finishes at Kansas City and then getting caught in no-man’s land on Andreas Ivanschitz’s free kick then Nelson Valdez put in for a goal. (He did make a sensational save off the line in the second half, though.)

Dos Santos looked great at times (especially early on) and mundane at others.

I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded about Donovan Ricketts in goal.

Integrating players in the middle of the season isn’t impossible (see: Drogba), but it didn’t go as smoothly for the Galaxy as they would have hoped.

“We’ve added new people midseason in years past and we’ve done really well with that,” defender Omar Gonzalez said after Wednesday’s game. “You can’t really put the blame on that. I don’t really know what to put the blame on. We didn’t have it all this year. And that’s why we’re out.”

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