Already shorthanded at the start of their match away to Real Salt Lake on Saturday, the LA Galaxy only made things more difficult for themselves.
Two goals conceded in the first 10 minutes—Andy Williams’ second-minute sitter and Javier Morales’ ninth-minute penalty—were the start of RSL’s slow and painful dismantling of the Galaxy.
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Ultimately, the Galaxy, who were missing Landon Donovan due to international duty, left Rio Tinto Stadium with a 4-1 loss on their record. While they did get new Designated Player Juan Pablo Angel his first goal in an LA jersey, it was far too late to make a difference.
“We came out poorly, there’s no question about that,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “We turned the ball over and made some bad plays and they capitalized. The second goal off the penalty kick—I think [it] was a terrible call by the referee—but it certainly didn’t cost us the game. We were completely outplayed in the first half and were punished properly.”
RSL may have caught the Galaxy flat-footed at the start but it was not a surprise. At home, RSL are nearly always aggressive from the opening whistle.
“We expected that, we knew that was coming,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. “We didn’t start the game well and when you don’t start the game well against any team, it’s difficult. But when you start the game like we did against a team like this that can score quick goals, then it’s difficult.”
The loss is in line with the Galaxy’s former results at Rio Tinto. The only difference this time is that the match came so early in the season. LA’s record now stands at 1-1-1, and there is no need to panic about table positions.
So were there any possible positives from the match for the Galaxy?
“You take a lot out of this,” Arena said. “Sometimes you can learn more when you lose games than when you win. Tonight, there were a lot of individual mistakes. Obviously I point the finger at the coach when the team played the way we played in the first 15 minutes of the game.”
One possible bright spot was the play of Ángel. Not only did the former New York Red Bulls marksman start for the first time for the Galaxy, but he opened his LA account, knocking in a cross from Beckham in the 79th minute.
“[The goal] was good but I wish it would have come under different circumstances,” Ángel said. “It is always important to get off the mark, especially on a new team. I have a mix of emotions because it wasn’t a good game for us.”
The most difficult part to swallow, Ángel said, is the fact that Galaxy mistakes led to RSL goals. Against a club or RSL’s caliber, gifting goals makes earning a result nearly impossible, particularly when it is done so early in the match.
“It wasn’t a good game overall,” Ángel said. “We didn’t start the game off well and we got punished by it. We made mistakes and they capitalized on our mistakes. We’ve got to make sure we start off games better than that.”