Matt Doyle broke down defensive mistakes in his latest Between the Lines video (click the picture above). In it, he reveals the first two rules of defense. First and most obvious, don't let your mark get between you and the goal. Secondly, and the focus of the video, don't give teams the time and space to pick out passes from the midfield.
On Monterrey's two late goals Wednesday night, who were the Galaxy players that violated the first two rules of defense? Doyle mentions three ways that offensive players can get the time and space to pick our their cross, and on Monterrey's first goal it was clearly a case of individual brilliance winning out.
Cesar Delgado completely took Michael Stephens to school. He dribbled back and forth getting Stephens to overcommit each time before sending the long cross in to Aldo de Nigris. Nigirs is being marked by Leonardo, is able to get above Leo, but his bouncing header is saved by Carlo Cudicini.
A.J. DeLaGarza and Sean Franklin were the other two defenders holding the line as the cross came in. When Nigris goes up, DeLaGarza goes over making an attempt on the block. Humberto Sauzo sees this and beats Sean Franklin to the space DeLaGarza left behind to have a shot at the rebound. It wasn't a clean shot, sort of a high kick in hopes that the ball hit foot.
So who's at fault? Certainly Stephens doesn't look great overcommitting to an old trick. Why was Stephens so concerned with a midfielder dribbling away from the goal? DeLaGarza doesn't look great either. He needed to be aware Sauzo was behind him, as Franklin only had a weak block on his mark. If DeLaGarza trusts Leonardo to take care of his mark, DeLaGarza is there to clear the rebound.
By the second goal the fatigue was really starting to show. The 90th minute featured a chain of four long Monterrey passes the fourth an unsuccessful cross, and then a chain of three successful long passes that led to the goal. Jose Basanta was given an acre of space to pick out his target, which he hit with a long floater.
This time, A.J. DeLaGarza stays between Guillermo Madrigal and the goal, as Madrigal keeps the possession alive with a centering header. Omar Gonzalez gets caught ball watching as de Nigris runs behind him, controls the header and chips it over Carlo Cudicini's outstretched arm.
Gonzalez, who watched the first goal from the top of the box, had a mark experienced enough to know just when to sneak behind Gonzalez the same way Sauzo knew to sneak behind DeLaGarza. When Bruce Arena decries his club's experience, these moments are a big part of that.
The good news for the Galaxy is that there are few forwards in MLS with that amount of top level experience, and LA has two of them. The bad news is, as was pointed out to me by SB Nation's Chivas USA blogger Alicia Rodriguez, the Galaxy don't seem to respond well to a physical attack.
The physicality of Monterrey led to fatigue and late letdowns, which betrayed an otherwise well played match. Again, the good news for the Galaxy is few MLS teams play with that level of physicality. Still, the argument that the Galaxy defense lost their legs and committed uncharacteristic mistakes in the last twenty minutes holds up under scrutiny.