In a match with a dam break moment like the 5-1 LA Galaxy victory over the New England Revolution, the logical question is whether the winner is that good or the loser that bad? The World Cup saw Germany and the Netherlands beat up on the likes of Spain, Portugal, and Brazil with similar score lines. Is the talent gap really that large in these cases?
Form and overall talent level are mostly value judgements. In the case of the Revolution they have lost seven MLS games in a row, but that losing streak comes right after a five match winning streak. The Revs first loss in this streak was their first loss in seven matches. It's impossible to predict there at the end of May that the Revs in mid July would have gone without so much as a draw since then.
LA's been on an almost exact opposite run of form, with five wins over an eight match unbeaten streak. This comes right off the back of a four match winless streak. The entire unbeaten streak has been accomplished without the services of Omar Gonzalez, but no one would argue the absense of a World Cup caliber player would be the catalyst to going from losing to winning.
A 5-1 victory has a way of masking things for both sides. Yes the Galaxy turned it into a rout, but the fifteen minutes after the New England Revolution lost a man down 2-0 were quite poor. Dan Gargan getting sent off was the culmination of several minutes where the Revs were the aggressors a man down putting the LA defense on their back foot.
What made the difference in the match ultimately to go from a 2-1 halftime scoreline to a 5-1 finish was a recalibration of the plan at halftime. Bruce Arena had tried to give Landon Donovan a rest in a dual match week, but he came in at halftime to give the attack some balance.
New England also came out and tried a narrow diamond formation, with Bruce Arena going back to the flat midfield with Kenney Walker doing more of the holding. Four of LA's five goals came from forward play, ultimately the battle in the midfield mattered less than the experience of Robbie Keane and the relatively poor play from the Revs.
"It is a disappointing game all the way around," said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. "You give up two goals, and the first one you just tip your hat, but the second and third goal to me are the two that really broke our back, and you can't do that, it is just not good enough. We as a staff have to get better, we as a group have to get better; we have a quick turnaround so we have to move on."
Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes are starting to get into a rhythm together, and given more space to roam in against a nine man outfield they were able to repeat in the second half what they accomplished in the first; a goal apiece. It's expected with the form of both sides, but the scoreline only reemphasises the current disparity. Nothing new was really learned on the day.