GALAXY: Another loss? No big deal
CARSON -- The last time the Galaxy lost three in a row? Go back to the 2008 regular season, before Bruce Arena was deeply into the rebuild that would take the club to 2009 Western Conference title (and MLS Cup final), Supporters' Shields the past two seasons and last November's championship-game triumph.
L.A. is struggling three weeks into its preparations for the Major League Soccer season, not that it matters. Tuesday's 3-0 loss to expansion Montreal on the club's training field at Home Depot Center -- following losses to Portland and Houston -- barely registers on the radar.
“Not losing a whole lot of sleep over it, to be honest with you,” Arena said. “This is, just for us, evaluation. Fitness, basically. That's what it is.”
The verdict: The Galaxy isn't as fit as its rivals, not at this point. They started a week later than a lot of the clubs, and a briefer offseason than the everybody else enjoyed has them on a different pace in the buildup to MLS's opening weekend in 3½ weeks.
“I think there's a little bit of understanding not that we're behind, but we have a little bit different schedule than everyone else,” said Todd Dunivant, who played 62 minutes at left back. “We finished Dec. 7 [after a postseason tour of Asia and Australia], and most teams finished at the end of October. We had a lot less of a break, and I think we're [following our own pace], which is the right thing to do.
“We're not going to win any championships these first weeks of preseason, but as it continues, we need to continue to keep getting better, get our fitness right, and I think that is improving. Personally, 60 minutes today felt a lot better than 45 did Friday [in the 1-0 loss to Houston], so that's a good sign. If we can keep building those things, the rest of it's going to come.”
The Galaxy have been without Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, both on loan in England, and Juninho hasn't arrived yet from Brazil. There's still a hole at the back, with rookie Tommy Meyer getting starts next to A.J. DeLaGarza in all four preseason games to date. Arena has used the games -- a rout of the L.A. Blues followed by a 4-1 defeat to Portland and the losses to the Dynamo and Impact -- to gauge the young players and build fitness. From that prism, things are going well.
“I think it was a good morning for us. We got a lot out of it,” Arena said. “I think to Montreal's credit, they pushed the pace of the game. Our midfield play in the first half wasn't good. We turned the ball over too many times, but I thought it was a real good game to evaluate some things, which is good, which is the purpose of these practice games.”
That first-half midfield included David Beckham and Marcelo Sarvas, who had a tough outing physically, which isn't all that surprising. The physical nature of the game in MLS is biggest adjustment for foreign arrivals, especially those from leagues in South and Central America. Sarvas, a Brazilian, had been playing in Costa Rica for Alajuelense.
Portland, which is looking to contend for a title after a solid first season, and Montreal, which wants to make a statement from the start, approached the games against the Galaxy with a superior competitive spirit. Again, no surprise.
“I think we can take a couple lessons from the Portland game and this game,” Dunivant said. “Because both those teams came out and high-pressured us. It's still somewhat early in the proceedings, and we haven't caught up yet, and I think both of those teams took us a little bit by surprise and we weren't able to catch the pace of the game.”
Said Arena: “I think [preparations are] on schedule for us. I think other teams maybe have a little greater sense of urgency to get things done right now. But us, with just a six-week break, we're not putting everything we have into preseason games now. In another week it will be better. In two weeks, it will certainly be a lot better.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Former Chivas USA defender Zarek Valentin scored a scorcher of a goal six minutes into the second half, bending a ball into the upper-right corner for a 2-0 Impact lead. Sanna Nyassi scored near the end of the first half with a shot that caromed off Bryan Jordan, leaving Josh Saunders no chance. Rookie Evan James added the third in stoppage after Miguel Montaño beat trialist J.T. Murray on the right byline.
Saunders made a couple of big saves in the first half, against Montaño and Eduardo Sebrango. David Beckham nearly tallied for the Galaxy, blasting a free kick from a few yards outside the box off the upper-left corner of the goal frame. Jack McBean also had a strong chance in the 74th minute; former L.A. goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made a reaction save when the teenage forward volleyed Hector Jimenez's free kick.
WORTH NOTING: The Galaxy on Tuesday finalized plans to bring Donovan back from Everton on Sunday, one week earlier than the loan agreement specified. Donovan will return to Europe at the end of the month, for the U.S. national team's Feb. 29 friendly against Italy in Genoa. ... Arena said Juninho would arrive in Southern California in the “next couple of days, I would think.” ... Sean Franklin is dealing with an injury and wasn't available. ... The Galaxy play their final HDC preseason game Thursday against Chivas USA. The club heads next week to Tucson, Ariz., for the last part of their preparations and four games in the Feb. 22-March 3 Desert Diamond Cup against New England, Real Salt Lake, New York and the final or third-place game. ... Patrick Donnelly, L.A.'s lead media relations officer the past decade, left the club Monday.
Home Depot Center University Field 1 (Carson)
Galaxy 0, Montreal Impact 3
M -- Sanna Nyassi 37
M -- Zarek Valentin 52
M -- Evan James (Miguel Montaño) 92+
Galaxy: Josh Saunders (Nick Noble, 46); Bryan Jordan (Justin Davies, 51), Tommy Meyer (Bryan Gaul, 63), A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant (J.T. Murray, 63); Michael Stephens (Adam Cristman, 63), Marcelo Sarvas (Kenney Walker, 63), David Beckham (Dan Keat, 63), Kyle Nakazawa (Hector Jimenez, 46); Edson Buddle (Jack McBean, 63), Paolo Cardozo (Pat Noonan, 46).
Montreal Impact: Donovan Ricketts; Zarek Valentin, Shavar Thomas (Nevio Pizzolitto, 74), Tyson Wahl, Josh Gardner; Sanna Nyassi, Fabrice Bernier (Aaron Schoenfeld, 74), Felipe Martins, Davy Arnaud (Collen Warner, 74); Eduardo Sebrango (Evan James, 74), Miguel Montaño.
Yellow cards: Nyassi 56, McBean 72, Martins 86.
Referee: Daniel Radford. Att.: c. 250.
- GALAXY PRESEASON
Record: 1-3-0; vs. MLS: 0-3-0
Feb. 3 vs. L.A. Blues (USL Pro): W, 7-2 (Sarvas pen. 12, Dunivant 29, Cristman 36, 45, Cardozo 42, McBean 63, Nakazawa pen. 85)
Feb. 7 vs. Portland: L ,1-4 (Keat 80)
Feb. 10 vs. Houston: L, 0-1
Feb. 14 vs. Montreal: L, 0-3
Feb. 16 vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center
Feb. 22 vs. New England at Tucson, Ariz.
Feb. 25 vs. Real Salt Lake at Tucson, Ariz.
Feb. 29 vs. New York at Tucson, Ariz.
March 3 Desert Diamond Cup final/third-place game at Tucson, Ariz.