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Friday, August 5, 2011
GALAXY: Two losses to throw away

By Scott French

CARSON -- The Galaxy has no doubt that Wednesday's brutal loss in Portland isn't going to affect them when they meet their nearest pursuer in Major League Soccer's regular-season race, unless it helps.

L.A.'s performance in the 3-0 defeat, more so than the loss itself, is something that has to be put in the past. Everyone vows that will happen, no problem.

It better. Saturday night's Home Depot Center encounter with FC Dallas could, as Landon Donovan pointed out, “be the difference between finishing first or not.”

The Galaxy (12-3-9) sits three points ahead of FC Dallas (12-5-6) and has played one more game. A third successive defeat -- following the Hoops' playoff romp last year at HDC and their odd, lightning-delayed triumph May 1 -- would drop the Galaxy into second place in the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference standings and give Dallas the advantage if they finish even on points.

“We know they've been chasing us all year, and they're right at our tail now,” Donovan said. “We've got to make sure that we're ready. The Portland loss actually comes at a good time, because it makes us refocus and readjust, and we know they're flying and they've been playing well.”

David Beckham says he hopes “it's a kick up the backside for us” “that “kicks us back into the way we have been playing.”

Wednesday's defeat was the first in 15 league games for the Galaxy, since that loss in Dallas -- and that one, which Donovan called “bizarre” and Beckham termed “a weird night” -- might hold more sway over L.A.'s emotions than what happened up north.

They deny it, but head coach Bruce Arena, not one, generally, to go off, expressed his bitterness over the 2-1 defeat following L.A.'s practice Friday.

“It was a pretty stupid exercise, I thought, that whole thing where we stat around for over an hour, then replayed it,” he said when asked his memories of the game. “Unfortunately, they made a play in that little mini-game we had, and it turned out to be a big three points.”

The game was halted in the 83rd minute, tied at 1, by torrential rains and lightning, and after an hour the Galaxy had packed up and was ready to head back to their hotel. The decision to resume the game came down not long after, and Brek Shea scored two minutes into the final seven with a flighty cross that roamed into the net.

It was a result that, to paraphrase Donovan, could be the difference in who gets the Supporters' Shield.

“It bothers me because I think the whole thing was handled poorly,” Arena said, “but at the same time, we should have walked out of there with a point, because I think we played OK.”

Arena said the decision to resume the game came from the league rather than referee Alex Prus, and that “the referee has to be in charge of that. Whether you agree with the decision or not, needs to be the people on the ground there. Can't be the home club, it has to be the referee. The referee should have the power to stop the game and the power to start it, and nobody else should be involved.”

Restarting after an hour off the field, he continued, “distorts the final score, whether it remains the same or not. Because the teams that go out after such a long delay, it's not going to be the same game. It's an entirely different game, and it distorts the real game.”

It still stings.

“Who cares? It's over with now,” Arena concluded. “It doesn't matter now. It's in the record books. ... As they say, [stuff] happens.”

PORTLAND'S LESSON: The lessons of Portland are about attitude and expectations, according to Beckham.

“We can't play for a franchise like this and a team as good as we are and underperform like that,” he said. “We didn't show energy, we just went out there and expected it to be an easy victory for us. Which they never are. The only thing we can take from that is, simple as that, we can't go onto a field and expect to win just because of who we are and what franchise we play for.”

WORTH NOTING: FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman told the league's website that this “is the most important game of the season” because it puts his team “in a great position to be competing for that No. 1 spot.” ... Dallas is coming off a second 1-0 victory over El Salvador's Alianza to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League's group phase. ... The Hoops last week traded former UC Santa Barbara star Eric Avila to Toronto FC for former Chivas USA forward/midfielder Maicon Santos. The Brazilian attacker is the second team captain the Reds have dealt away this year. ... L.A. leads the overall series, 25-19-9, but add in MLS playoffs, SuperLiga and U.S. Open Cup games (and throw out the old shootout wins) and the on-field record favors the Galaxy, 31-20-13. Dallas has won just five games, one in a shootout, in 26 regular-season meetings at the Rose Bowl and HDC. ... Juninho remains one yellow card from a one-game suspension. Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez, back from a knee injury, and fellow midfielder Andrew Jacobson also will be suspended with yellow cards. ... The Galaxy has next weekend off, then begins CCL play Aug. 15 against Honduras' Motagua at HDC.

MISSING: Donovan Ricketts (broken arm) and central defenders Leonardo and Sean Alvarado (both torn ACLs) remain out. Ricketts says he's about three weeks away, and Arena said he'd be playing if he "were a field player." ... Beckham (fractured spine), and forward Chad Barrett and midfielder Jovan Kirovski (both sprained ankles) are questionable, but Beckham will play. ... Defender Omar Gonzalez (fractured nose), who has played in L.A.'s last three games, is probable.


THE OPPONENT

FC DALLAS
Head coach

Three key players

Current form/prospects

Local connections

Missing

THE GAME

At Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m.
TV:
Prime Ticket (delayed, 8:30 p.m.)
Radio: K-Talk (KTLK-AM/1150, English) and ESPN Deportes (KWKW-AM/1330, Spanish)
Referee: Michael Kennedy