It’s been a recurring theme so far for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2012.
Scoring chances gone begging combined with defensive mistakes that enable its opponents to find the back net have been a nasty habit for the Galaxy in this young season, and the New York Red Bulls were the latest recipient of the Galaxy’s sudden misfortune on Saturday. A first-half goal from Joel Lindpere combined with an efficient bunker-down defense enabled the Red Bulls, minus Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and many others, to collect a 1-0 win over the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.
“It’s been kind of a broken record,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of the Galaxy’s lack of finishing so far this season. “Throughout 90 minutes, there were certainly enough chances to at least get a point or win the game.”
With the three points, the Red Bulls thrusted themselves into the thick of the Eastern Conference race, as they sit in third place, two point shy of D.C. United and five short of Sporting Kansas City, who were upset 2-0 by the Montreal Impact. Meanwhile, the Galaxy continue to languish at near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, as they currently stand in seventh place in the conference.
“It’s little things and little adjustments, and we gotta keep working on it, but by no means are we giving up,” Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant said.
The Galaxy had a golden opportunity to score in the 13th minute when a long ball by Sean Franklin sprung Robbie Keane for goal. Keane chipped keeper Ryan Meara, but Markus Holgerson managed to clear the ball at the goal line. Once again, a missed chance came back to haunt LA, this time in the 19th minute, as Jun Gunnar Solli played a perfect ball to Joel Lindpere in the penalty area and the Estonian did the rest, beating keeper Bill Gaudette far post to put New York in front.
The Red Bulls didn’t do much attacking after the Lindpere goal, instead, opting to absorb the pressure that LA was sure to bring while waiting for counterattack opportunities. LA’s first chance at an equalizer came in the 37th minute when a David Beckham free kick went over an outstretched Edson Buddle, but found its way to Robbie Keane, Keane tried to get the ball to Buddle inside the six, but Buddle, on the ground, couldn’t fully control the ball and New York eventually cleared out the danger.
LA continued to create the chances in the second half, but Meara simply refused to let anything past the goal line. Meara’s first save of the second half was relatively easy, as Mike Magee blasted a 22 yarder at the top of the box, Meara stopped the shot, spilled the ball though Brandon Barklage did clear the ball out of the box. Meara’s next two saves were huge, such as a patented long-range attempt outside the 18 by Juninho in the 82nd minute, but Meara’s left hand redirected the ball over the crossbar, which was then followed by a point-blank denial of Landon Donovan four minutes later. The Galaxy had one last shot at an equalizer in stoppage time, as a cross by Chad Barrett into the box was chipped by a Red Bulls player, but it went to Beckham, but his volley in the box missed far post.
“The only way I know and the only way this team knows is to keep going,” Donovan said. “It seemed like pretty much everything went against us today.”
The Galaxy will try to right the ship next Saturday, as they make their first visit to Montreal to face the Impact, while the Red Bulls return home to face the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.