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Galaxy Give Go-Ahead Goal Generously

Or, why the Galaxy should start panicking as teams continue to drop the bomb.

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One thing has remained constant throughout the 2010 Los Angeles Galaxy campaign. When giving up the first goal, the Galaxy are 0-5-1, and when trailing at halftime they are 0-3-1. 

It's a trend that at this point almost feels predictive. 

"We’ve given up way too many early goals this year," Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein said via an article on LAGalaxy.com, "What that does to us is it ends up making us chase the game and allowing teams to sit in and counter against us."

That's certainly how the last two Galaxy games have felt. After giving up an early goal, the Galaxy look the better squad, because they're forced to dominate possession and press forward. Opposing keepers are forced to make some fantastic saves, and if they do the Galaxy leave themselves exposed for a counterattack. Of course, the sitting back part makes the Galaxy press all the more futile against a defense worth their weight in salt. On Saturday, the Galaxy left keeper Jimmy Nielson untried in the first half. 

That freak play in behind is a risk of an offense which likes to get up forward early. Against New York, another forward first team, the Galaxy were able to have success trading blows when they had the accuracy and New York didn't. Against more defensive minded teams which prefer to sit in midfield, that freak play is always on the table. It might not be the most exciting football (soccer) to watch, but against the Galaxy it has proven effective.

It's true that opponents aren't getting in behind the Galaxy, after open play the Galaxy have given up most of their goals off rebounds. It's only 3 goals, so it's a recent trend, but it stands in contrast to the 3 goals each the Galaxy have gotten off crosses, corners, penalties, and free kicks. The Galaxy have had great success this season bashing teams from all angles with their offense, and it shows in their point total. Until they find a way to buck this trend against them, it will continue to be a theme, and a haunting theme at that.

As Donovan said, in that same article on LAGalaxy.com:

"In this league, it’s hard to chase any game because we don’t have enough talented players," [Landon Donovan] said. "There aren’t enough talented players around the league to do the things to make plays when the other team has 10 guys behind the ball."

"When you see Chelsea or Man U or Arsenal or Barcelona play, they have enough quality players where they can play against 10 guys behind the ball and still create really good chances. That’s always going to be hard for us. We need to get back to the things we’re good at and if we do that, we’ll win."

This might be the most telling statement of all. In yesterday's ESPN soccernet podcast, Steve McManaman talked about how the Premier League is "90 minutes, run as much as you can, fight as much as you can" and that simply isn't the case in MLS. With Bruce Arena saying that players weren't sharp enough in their movements and passing around Buddle and now with Donovan pointing out the lack of talent to chase the game a clarification has to be made.

There is not yet the talent level in Major League soccer to have open, back and forth, 3-2 games. At least from the Galaxy's perspective, games tend to trend more like single hills than mountain ranges, aside from the 2-2 seesaw battle with San Jose in Home Depot Center earlier this year. But even that game wasn't a battle of momentum shifts, it featured the Galaxy forward all game with the Earthquakes getting quick goals against the flow of the game. 

So when Andrea Canales writes that the Galaxy need Beckham back, I agree, not because he's going to change the Galaxy into team which can successful chase the game, but it makes the Galaxy more likely to get that first goal, and play to the script, because trying to play to a different script simply isn't working.