Galaxy stars entertain no excuses for 3-0 loss to Timbers
It does not change the fact that the they still own the best record in Major League Soccer (12-3-9, 45 points), but the time has finally come to write the obituary for the Los Angeles Galaxy's 14-match unbeaten streak.
"It's hard to go through a long stretch of the season unbeaten, especially in our league, where there's a salary cap and teams are playing with the same rules,' Galaxy striker Landon Donovan said. 'It was a good run. There were probably a couple times where it could've been broken up. But tonight we didn't deserve to win, and we paid for it."
Galaxy midfielder David Beckham expected the Galaxy to play a lot better than they did in being handed a 3-0 loss by the Portland Timbers.
"I'm surprised at the way we played, but if you perform like that, you deserve to lose like that,' Beckham said. 'We go home a little bit embarrassed because of the result, but at the end of the day, it's the first game we've lost in three months. We've been on a good run, (but it) had to end somewhere."
• So what happened to the Galaxy, who blew the Timbers out of the water with a 3-0 win in L.A. the first time they played in April?
'We were lacking in every area,' Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. 'Technically, we were poor. Physically, we were dominated and (we were) out-competed. If there's any game where you can point to 10 field players and say you lost your matchup, this is the game."
There was also a notable difference in the club Los Angeles faced Wednesday night compared to the one they faced in April.
"They seem more hungry,' Beckham said. 'I'm sure they always want to win because they're professional players, and I'm sure they love playing for this team, but they were hungry tonight. They didn't want to lose this game, especially in front of their own fans. They did well. So congratulations to them, and they deserved the win."
Beckham in no way thought the Timbers looked like an expansion side.
"They looked like a good team,' Beckham said. 'They looked like a team that was passionate about winning. They want to win in front of their own fans, and they did them proud tonight and the fans did the team proud, because it's a good atmosphere to play in."
•• A fact about Major League Soccer that is often swept under the rug is that there is leeway in terms of the width of the pitch in each stadium. The Galaxy play on a large pitch at the Home Depot Center. The Jeld-Wen Field pitch is much narrower.
'I don't think we made adjustments for the size of the field and the surface,' Arena said.
Donovan did not use the size of the pitch as an excuse for the Galaxy being severely outplayed. It was something he noticed, though.
'We knew it was going to be like that,' Donovan said. 'It's part of it. But they were more prepared in that way. They played direct, and they had a couple of forwards who battled well, and we just didn't do a good enough job of competing.'
As well as noting the size of the pitch, Beckham also remarked on playing on turf rather than grass.
'Obviously (the pitch) was tight,' Beckham said. 'It's something that is the same for both teams. Obviously they play on it more than we do. But the size of the field is not a problem. It's not very nice playing on a plastic field, I must admit. It's the same for both teams, but they play on it a little more than we do.'
••• While losing 3-0 to a struggling club is not how L.A. envisioned its road trip would end, the Galaxy are unlikely to put too much importance on what was only their third loss of the season.
'You have to throw it behind you,' Arena said. 'If you dwell on this, you're not going to win any more games. We were beat tonight, and there's absolutely no excuses."
Beckham said he believes the Galaxy have to examine the loss before moving forward.
'We have to look back on this. We have to learn from this,' he said. 'But we obviously have to forget about it at some point. On Saturday, we'll have forgotten about this game.'
The only thing Beckham said he thinks the Galaxy will have to build on from the match is a sense of disappointment.
'To build on? Not so sure,' Beckham said. 'We just have to look at ourselves individually and as a team. And we need to perform better. Because when you play for a franchise like the L.A. Galaxy, the owners, the manager, the management staff, everyone expects more than that from their players.
'(Arena) put the right team out there to perform, and we didn't perform. It's as simple as that. We let ourselves down tonight.'
•••• The Galaxy have been on the road for longer than usual for MLS clubs. They traveled to Vancouver - where they won 4-0 on Saturday - before coming to Portland. No one was willing to say that was the difference in the match, though.
••••• When Arena was asked if his side was tired on Wednesday night, he rolled his eyes.
'Sure, if you want to use that as an excuse,' he said. 'They (the Timbers) had a game, too, on Saturday.'
•••••• The road trip did not produce the result the Galaxy had hoped for, but there is still reason for them to be optimistic about the 2011 season.
'We've got one win and a loss tonight,' Beckham said. ' We're still in a good position. Still top. We've just got to continue to work hard. Continue to not have results like in the game we've played in tonight. And then we'll look forward.'
It will be nice for the Galaxy players to return home to Los Angeles. Especially for Beckham, who will be greeted by his three sons, new daughter, Harper Seven, and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, or, as she was known in the 90s, Posh Spice.
'It's always nice to get home,' Beckham said. 'No one likes being away from their family.'