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No Shocker Here, The First Goal Wins

How important is that first goal? A look at how teams have reacted to the opener.

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One of the criticisms of the Los Angeles Galaxy last year, especially when it came to the midseason slump, was that they didn't have a come from behind win. It took until September 18th for the Galaxy to overcome a first goal deficit in a match against DC United where Landon Donovan scored two goals five minutes apart to bring the Galaxy three points. The difference between that win and the slump that preceded it is that DC United didn't score until the 60'. It's not the most scientific analysis, but in a report released by the Elias Sports Bureau this week, it turns out the team to score first is 31-0-12 this season and there has been a goal within the first ten minutes of 23 percent of all games played so far this year; the highest percentage since 2002. 

During last year's slump, the Galaxy gave up goals in the 4' to Chicago, 4' to San Jose, 12' to Kansas City, as well as scoring in the 10' and 13' against New York and Columbus respectively. While soccer is normally a second half game, when teams are tired and exhaustion sets in, MLS teams have shown a preference for getting that early goal and just sitting on the match. 

Against DC United, the Galaxy got their first goal at the 12 minute mark, and then had to defend that slim lead for 78 minutes. While much has been made about Charlie Davies penalty, compare the DC match to the Galaxy's last match in Chicago, where a goal just before half time and another shortly after half time which made Chicago's late goal irrelevant. 1-nil victories are as much a part of soccer as the pitching duel is part of baseball, but that Elias Sports Bureau report also shows that the team which has scored first has averaged 2.44 points per match. I don't think anyone would argue that MLS is an arcade league (anymore), but it's become a league where simply having the best defense isn't going to be enough. There is a great deal of talent on the offensive end and although it's early, it seems like the Galaxy need to step it up.