CARSON -- David Beckham noted a couple of weeks ago that there was no need for the Galaxy to panic yet, but if things didn't turn soon, that time would quickly arrive.
After Saturday night's SuperClasico loss to Chivas USA, perhaps it is time for panic.
The Galaxy (3-6-2) haven't won in their last five games, and all three of their losses in that span have been by shutout. They still don't have a clean sheet in 13 games, including the CONCACAF Champions League, after posting 22 in 46 competitive matches last year. They've surrendered the first goal 10 times and in seven of their last eight games. By the end of the day, they could be in the Western Conference cellar.
We've seen too little from Robbie Keane, Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan and Juninho -- and Keane and Donovan are leaving for awhile -- and although team defense has improved following a horrid start to the season, there remain problems -- and likely will until Omar Gonzalez returns hopefully sometime this summer.
And now the defending MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield champion has fallen behind its hated rivals in the battle for SoCal supremacy. Chivas is hotter (especially with Juan Agudelo's arrival), better defensively and steadily moving forward toward something potentially very grand.
Saturday's loss -- with Chivas dominating play in the first half but not creating much out of it, the Galaxy responding nicely in the second half, and a penalty kick with 20 minutes to go making the difference -- was another backward step for L.A.
“On the season, our record is probably not real precise in therms of how we've played,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “I think we've played better than our record indicates, but tonight the difference in the game is taking a chance. We didn't do it, and give [Chivas] credit.”
The Galaxy has played well in spurts this season, early on against Real Salt Lake, the rout of D.C. United, the second half in last week's draw at Montreal. They were swell to start the second half Saturday, creating far more dangerous chances than Chivas could -- Miller Bolaņos' shot off the post and the play leading to the PK aside. If not for Dan Kennedy's 50th-minute stops on Pat Noonan's blistering shot across the face of the net and Kyle Nakazawa's rebound, L.A. wins.
“I thought a goal was coming the first 20 minutes of the second half,” Donovan said. “It just felt like we were playing well and things were going the right way, and they kind of float a ball in the box, and that play happens, and it changes the game. If we're at fault for anything, it's not scoring when we had the chances.
“I think probably for the second week in a row we probably played against the goalie of the week, and it's frustrating, but that's the way it's going right now.”
WORTH NOTING: Donovan and Keane depart Sunday for international duty and will be gone for about a month, Donovan a little less and Keane possibly a bit longer. ... Donovan was much better in midfield during the second half than at forward in the first half. Arena said he didn't think his captain “was comfortable playing up top. I don't think he did well in terms of holding the ball in situations where we needed it held.” Donovan agreed, saying that the Galaxy “had a tough time getting enough guys involved going forward” in the first half. ... Rookie Tommy Meyer was not on the 18-man game roster for the first time all season. ... The Galaxy plays Wednesday at HDC against San Jose, Saturday at Houston and then are off from MLS duty until June 17. They have a U.S. Open Cup game May 29 and possibly another a week later.
UPDATE (6:15 p.m.): With the season more or less one-third done, the Galaxy find themselves in last place in the West following Portland's 2-1 victory Sunday over visiting Chicago. Point totals in the conference: Real Salt Lake 26, San Jose 24, Seattle 23, Vancouver 18, Colorado 16, Chivas USA and FC Dallas 13, Portland 12, Galaxy 11.