Outside of the Seattle Sounders, the only team above an average of two points per match and the only team with double digit victories, no team in MLS has really figured out a consistent way to get victories week in and week out. Past the Sounders the next six teams all currently have seven victories, four fewer than Seattle has managed this season. The LA Galaxy have only managed five victories, but on bad days more often than not they've at least managed the draw.
Fourteen games into last season the Galaxy had twice as many loses as they do in 2014 and only one more victory. That actually puts LA a point ahead of last year's total, although the two seasons feel quite similar. CONCACAF Champions League and other commitments resulted in matches in hand along with a slow start, and it took a good second half run to squeak into the playoffs.
That was also the case in 2012, where LA extended that league best second half form into a second straight MLS Cup victory. LA hasn't reached the halfway point of their season yet, but at least four points from the upcoming home matches and they'll be ahead of last year's schedule. It's been a work in progress, but things are starting to come together.
"That's the whole league," said Landon Donovan, "outside of Seattle at this point. I mean, everybody has good days and has bad days. It wasn't our best day today but we're winning after sixty somewhat minutes, we're tied at the end with a chance to win so all in all it's not the worst case but we certainly feel like this is a game we should have won."
LA were able to get the opening goal around the time substitutes start to come in and change the match, and a formation change with three at the back saw them get the equalizer before added time. Even before the extra attacker was brought in, Donovan had two penalties denied the second of which Juninho nearly converted from outside the penalty area. No team likes giving up a sloppy goal to go behind, but LA's energy didn't drop for that whole final half hour.
Still, the criticism will be lobbied that LA didn't turn up the energy until the end. The first half was a dreary affair with the Galaxy relying too much on long crosses and Portland not finding much in the way of goal opportunities. The energy was better after halftime, but it's the same criticism lobbied at the United States in their loss to Belgium: where was that energy all game?
"Situations always change games," said Donovan. "You see it in the World Cup constantly with teams, any time goals get scored, they change games and so we obviously were under pressure then to get a goal. I think it's easy to say ‘we should have played like that the whole game.' In all fairness we could have competed better most of the game, and it was disappointing."
The Galaxy will have to find that energy against Real Salt Lake, with both teams getting back their World Cup stars. Kyle Beckerman and Omar Gonzalez both had great showings in Brasil and will look to continue that form back in MLS. LA will need to show better than they did the first two meetings between these clubs to begin the season, where LA managed only a point.