This road trip couldn’t have ended any worse for Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy. The writing was on the wall earlier in the month when they fell to the Houston Dynamo at home. Dropping two out of three matches on the road has been a reality for this outfit because the truth is this: Carlo Cudicini is just not a clutch goalkeeper, period.
Here are six things we learned from Sunday afternoon’s encounter at a rainy Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. between the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy.
1. A slow first 20 minutes
Early on in the first half, the home side was intent on making Red Bull Arena their house, thanks to high-pressure play and precise counter-attacking fueled by star power. However, LA won a corner in the first minute. The good news for New York was that it was bad corner to begin with. In the third minute, Robbie Keane won a corner for Landon Donovan that was cleared. The Red Bulls were on the ropes early on and had to adjust.
In the sixth minute, Juninho Pernambucano laid a heavy challenge on the Juninho from LA. In the eighth minute, another corner for the Galaxy went cleared and a minute later, Juninho was taken out of the game on another challenge from Juninho Pernambucano, forcing Arena to bring in Rafael Garcia. That allowed the Red Bulls to add a little more pressure and play their game.
In the 12th minute, the first big chance for Thierry Henry was called back for offsides. After a battle of ball possession, Juninho Pernambucano got injured himself in the 18th minute of play. A chance in the 20th minute for New York to stretch LA’s backline went south.
2. This game…is going to be a grinder.
The 24th minute saw New York on the ropes yet again with their poor clearance attempts, but once again, the Red Bulls were able to avert the danger. A set piece in the 26th minute from Donovan was poorly headed by Hector Jimenez. Juninho Pernambucano’s first free kick sailed wide in the 27th minute. In the 28th, Fabian Espindola’s first legit chance was cleared off the line by A.J. DeLaGarza.
Espindola’s next chance in the 32nd minute was collected by Carlo Cudicini. But this was what New York wanted to do: maintain the ball and win the fouls. DeLaGarza was cautioned in the 35th minute for fouling Espindola. Sarvas tried his luck in the 36th minute but his shot went wide right. Todd Dunivant got back to form with a routine clearance in the 39th minute. Donovan nearly got on goal in the 40th minute but was held at bay.
Tim Cahill tried to muscle his way to a goal in the 43rd minute but was whistled. In the 44th minute, Los Angeles earned another set piece opportunity, but Luis Robles made a great save on Robbie Keane, a possible Save of the Week nominee. The ensuing corner was cleared by the Red Bulls back line, and that would be it for a scoreless first half.
New York Red Bulls LA Galaxy
4 Attempts on Goal 4
2 Shots on Target 0
2 Shots off Target 2
0 Blocked Shots 2
0 Corner Kicks 3
9 Fouls 6
6 Open Play Crosses 4
2 Offsides 0
0 First Yellow Cards 1
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
18 Duels Won 25
41% Duels Won % 58%
189 Total Pass 205
79% Passing Accuracy % 78%
48.4% Possession 51.7%
3. Thick tension to start second half
Early on in the second half, Thierry Henry won a corner in the 47th minute of play that was taken short. The short game backfired, as Espindola failed to capitalize. Cahill’s next opportunity was a rocket that went high in the 49th minute of play. The next from Espindola in the 51st went wide right. Fabian Espindola is a player that has had a healthy history of scoring on the Los Angeles Galaxy as a member of Real Salt Lake.
A through ball from Keane in the 55th minute to Donovan was not hit very well by the Galaxy’s No. 10. In the 57th minute, Espindola pressed the issue once more but Cudicini wanted none of that.
The 59th minute saw Omar Gonzalez concede a corner that was not well played by Henry. A shot from Donovan in the 61st minute went wide right and nearly got tipped by Luis Robles.
4. Slow start to second half
In the 63rd minute, with Gyasi Zardes now on the pitch, the match was able to break wide open with both teams in the hunt for the advantage. Henry was on an island in the 64th minute but didn’t get a good touch. In the 65th minute, a set piece from Donovan was not well-hit thanks to Espindola playing the one-man wall.
Hector Jimenez was shaken up in the 68th minute after losing a duel for the ball but was otherwise able to finish the match unscathed. Super sub Kosuke Kimura tried his luck in the 71st minute but it was not the best of efforts.
Advantage was played to New York, and Jonny Steele, who was looking to make an impact in this match, won a corner for Henry in the 73rd minute, but Jamison Olave ruined that opportunity.
5. Another smash-and-grab defeat for LA
Zardes had to clear another chance for Henry in the 76th minute, forcing a Juninho Pernambucano corner that was cleared. A chance for LA in the 76th minute on the counter was wasted. In the 77th minute, Zardes forced another save from Robles and a corner. Another chance for the rookie in the 80th minute was not taken advantage of due to a poor first touch. Somehow, these missed opportunities had to be costly for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
In the 82nd minute, Cahill won another corner for Juninho Pernambucano that was cleared. Lloyd Sam was hoping to add a late-match spark for the New York Red Bulls in the 88th minute. A header for Keane in the 89th minute went wide right. That was yet another opportunity that went south for the visitors.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Tim Cahill finally broke the deadlock thanks to a free kick from Juninho Pernambucano, and that was all New York really needed as they held on for yet another 1-0 victory over the Galaxy.
|New York Red Bulls||LA Galaxy|
|10||Attempts on Goal||9|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|6||Shots off Target||4|
|19||Open Play Crosses||12|
|1||First Yellow Cards||1|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|45%||Duels Won %||54%|
|77%||Passing Accuracy %||75%|
6. Poor momentum heading into next week’s home contest
The Los Angeles Galaxy are really proficient at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. They do it with style, with grace, and with an uncanny inepitude that is unenviable. And that could be their undoing next weekend, when they face an unstoppage force in the Seattle Sounders, who are counting on another decisive performance to help their assault towards the top of the MLS Western Conference.