There were abnormal circumstances on the pitch tonight as the two teams played the majority of the match with ten players apiece, but the LA Galaxy took advantage and rolled on to a 5-1 victory over the New England Revolution. Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes both recorded braces as the two of them involved themselves in goal scoring opportunity after opportunity.
In keeping with the regular season, despite an offensive explosion tonight the biggest takeaway was another great defensive performance. The circumstances were trying, with Dan Gargan sent off for a challenge in the penalty area on a goal scoring opportunity, but with three at the back the Galaxy kept the Revs from any further scoring. It was yet another defensive lineup with Leonardo reinserted and A.J. DeLaGarza asked to play left back. Bruce Arena claims the consistency goes back to preseason work.
"Just working with those players since preseason getting them organized and getting them enough games," said Bruce Arena. "Tonight, in the first half we start with AJ at left back, match up Leo and Tommy which we hadn't done a whole lot. With Dan Gargan sent off it was a good exercise for them playing three at the back. I thought that was good."
Omar Gonzalez has long been the best defender in the bunch, but he's only played in six MLS matches this season. It's meant a calvalcade of players asked to work together as a unit, and through the first half of the season they've managed to limit most teams to a single goal at worst case scenario. This despite the relative youth of Tommy Meyer and Kofi Opare, and the occasional mental lapse of Leonardo.
The Galaxy also lost Sean Franklin and now Todd Dunivant for much of the year, and that's required A.J. DeLaGarza to wear several hats. He's done a fine job in whatever role has been asked of him, today relieving Robbie Rogers at left back who himself gained the role in relieving Dan Gargan. No one has been able to get comfortable at a defensive position this season, and yet the performances have been solid week to week.
"They've reacted in a possitive way all year," said Bruce Arena. "We've lost Omar for awhile, Todd Dunivant really for most of the season, James Riley...when a players' name is called they step up. I'm real pleased with the group, Kofi was ready to go tonight as well. We've got good depth in our back line and as the season gets into the second half it's going to pay dividends for our group."
Next up the LA Galaxy travel to Kansas City, to take on an equally hot team with four wins during a five match unbeaten streak. The Galaxy have five wins over an eight match unbeaten streak. It's taken a minute, but LA are starting to get mentioned with the top of the league again.
*The LA Galaxy are now third in the league in points per match, behind only Seattle and DC.
*Gyasi Zardes has six goals in his last eight MLS matches
*Stefan Ishizaki stayed late after practice this week practicing his spot kicks