Remember all that talk about the dynasty the Galaxy was building?
The New York Yankees of soccer looked more like the Seattle Mariners on Saturday, bumbling, fumbling and stumbling in a 3-1 loss to the New England Revolution.
“We were certainly beat tonight from the opening kickoff. It’s that simple,” said Coach Bruce Arena, whose team fell to 1-2 in MLS play and 1-3-1 overall. “We were very poor.”
And there may have been some collateral damage in this latest loss after Arena, irate over his team’s poor first half, took his anger out on David Beckham, pulling him in favor of Michael Stephens at the start of the second half.
“We needed to make a change in the midfield. Purely a coach’s decision,” Arena said afterward. “I’m sure he’s not pleased with that.”
Beckham didn’t stick around to give his side of things, leaving the locker room before it opened to the media. Team captain Landon Donovan, who wasn’t in uniform because of a tight quadriceps, also left without comment.
That left Arena to quash talk of a clash between coach and superstar -- something he wasn’t entirely successful at.
“You’re digging,” he told reporters. “Write about the game. I don’t know of any player who would be happy coming out of a game.”
As for the game, it was over before Beckham was pulled since New England was never seriously challenging after scoring a pair of goals in a three-minute span early in a rainy first half.
New England captain Shalrie Joseph got things started with a perfect 35-yard cross from the left wing that landed on the boot of an unmarked Kelyn Rowe just in front of the Galaxy goal. Keeper Josh Saunders made the save on the first volley but the ball came right back to Rowe and he didn’t miss the second time, putting the ball in the upper left corner to give the Revolution a 1-0 in the 10th minute.
Another massive defensive breakdown led to the second goal when Kevin Alston sent what appeared to be an errant pass across the front of the Galaxy goal. But with no Galaxy player there to clear it, New England’s Chris Tierney was able to collect the ball well to left of the goal before beating Saunders cleanly.
The quick scores were especially painful given the fact that the Galaxy was coming off a two-week break in which it worked on improving communication and teamwork on its back line. So then, just for good measure, the Galaxy gave up another goal in the second half when Saer Sene knifed between defenders Sean Franklin and Andrew Bowens to drive home a header.
“We did the exact same what we’ve been doing in the last few games: conceding sloppy goals,” said striker Robbie Keane, who was wearing the captain’s armband in Donovan’s absence. “Every goal we’ve conceded so far has been very, very similar.”
And only two teams in MLS have conceded more three weeks into the season than the Galaxy, which was the league’s top defensive team a year ago. Of course, last year they had Omar Gonzalez, the league’s defender of the year, on the back line. He won’t be back this season until late summer after undergoing knee surgery.
“It’s stuff you deal with when you’re a kid. Defending,” Keane said. “We didn’t do it properly so we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”
The Galaxy was almost as sloppy on offense, with Edson Buddle twice missing an open net. Keane eventually got the team’s only goal -- with an assist from Buddle -- in the 78th minute.
But the only thing that changed was the final score. And speaking of change, the Galaxy didn’t lose a game at home all last season, cruising to the MLS Cup. This season they’ve played four times at the Home Depot Center and have won only once.
For New England, meanwhile, Saturday’s win was its first in the Mountain or Pacific time zones since August 2009.
“We can’t point the fingers at just the defenders. We have to take this on board as a team, as a group of guys,” said Keane, who has scored three goals in his last two games. “It wasn’t good enough from any of us.
“Two weeks off, 10 days off, six weeks. It doesn’t really matter. We shouldn’t be conceding goals the way we’re conceding them. We have to rectify that and we have to rectify that very, very quickly.”