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Puerto Rico Destroys Galaxy

A headline which seems ripped from an episode of Doctor Who feels appropriate to describe just what happened at the Home Depot Center tonight. After the game Gregg Berhalter said that the game was a nightmare, but that these unexplainable things happen in soccer. Again, change a word or two, and you've got dialogue fit for a Londoner what just saw a snowflake shaped spaceship invade Earth. 

It's hard to know what the Galaxy expected out of this game, but certainly it wasn't a 4 - 1 defeat at the hands of The Puerto Rico Islanders of Division 2 fame. It wasn't that Puerto Rico had more chances, the Galaxy had 23 shots on goal to Puerto Rico's 9. But all 9 of the Galaxy's shots on target were saved by Islander goalkeeper Bill Gaudette, including a fantastic fingertip save on a Landon Donovan free kick headed toward the upper left corner. The only Galaxy goal this game came on an own goal, where a clearance attempt ricochetted back into the Islander net.  Time will tell if this game serves as a showcase for Pennsylvania born Gaudette, who has spent time in the MLS with the Columbus Crew.

Edson Buddle, the MLS goal leader, didn't have a shot, despite playing all 90 minutes. No forward had a shot on goal, which Chris Berchall leading the Galaxy in attempts with 5, and all four starting midfielders had 2 shots on goal. 

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico just couldn't miss, with 7 of their 9 shots ending up on target. Josh Saunders let in more goals than he saved this game, but in his post game press conference, Bruce Arena stood by his keeper, saying "We didn't lose this game because of Josh". Certainly the two first half goals were preventable, both came from positions where the keeper can't do much and is reliant upon his backfield to keep the ball out of the box. 

Coach Colin Clarke of Puerto Rico was humble after the game saying, "I don't think we were ever in charge" and certainly the shot chart would agree. Puerto Rico was certainly the more aggressive team, picking up 15 fouls, most of them in the first half. When forward Nick Addley was asked what his teammates saw in the Galaxy that allowed them to go through so many times, his coach jokingly told him as an aside "don't tell them anything". It may have been a moment in jest, but obviously these Islanders saw a weakness in the "big boys" of Los Angeles and attacked with precision.

When asked about the problems in the defense Berhalter said that they have to simply stop giving up so many goals, but also mentioned that set pieces have been the Galaxy's nemesis, and that it's possible that they started to believe their own hype about just how good this defense is. 

Attendance for the game was less than a quarter to capacity, with several Puerto Rico supporters. When it comes down to it, of course the Galaxy always want to win, but it seems this tournament just means something more to those on smaller, foreign teams with something to prove.

After the All-Star break (where Ricketts and Gonzalez will definitely see time as they didn't play today, but Donovan and Buddle are questionable, according to All-Star coach Arena) the Galaxy host the Chicago Fire on Sunday at 4:30 pm.