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Positives and Negatives: LA at San Jose

Bruce Arena said LA "stunk." He was pretty much accurate.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Brutal.  That's how Bruce Arena summed it up (the word "crap" may have been employed), and that's how the team played after two games where they spanked the opposition.

Positives:

  • Juninho's On Fire: That's four goals for Juninho on the year after he sank another scorcher on Saturday. No longer as tethered to defending in the middle as he was with Sarvas (or potentially fitter than where he usually starts seasons), he's engaging in those late runs that gave him a few scoring opportunities in previous years. This season so far he has four goals and three assists, beating every other year he's played in LA except for 2012 when he had 11 combined goals and assists. He's on a run of form lately, and here's to hoping the arrival of Gerrard helps, rather than hinders.
  • Rematch on Wednesday: The US Open Cup game provides an opportunity to exact revenge. Did Arena learn from the beat down administered by Kinnear? Will he have an answer to Wondolowski overloading the midfield? The team has a few days to plan and regroup.
  • Not much else to say except Penedo's form continues to be good with a spectacular reaction save in the 2nd minute, and Lletget got some minutes in front of his friends and family.

Negatives:

  • Sea of Red: the team's passing ability left the building. Below is a comparison of the distribution of all players minus the goalkeeper and center backs between the Portland and San Jose games with a telling amount of red in the final third in the San Jose game. Can't score if you can't deliver the ball. Robbie Keane surprisingly was a particular culprit here - only 1 of his 9 passes in the final third hit its intended target. Zardes did have a key pass (the layoff to Keane that should have been a goal), but his movement in general didn't penetrate the final third as we've seen in previous games.
San Jose Passing
Portland Passing
  • The Right Hand Side: LA was repeatedly beat by balls over the top in particular on the right hand side where Stefan Ishizaki and Dan Gargan were inexplicably basically playing the same position. Rather than playing somewhat deeper, Gargan is practically holding hands with Ishizaki with their movement and passing happening in virtually the same area. Caught high up the field, their lack of tracking back on defense is what left the right hand side wide open for the first San Jose goal. LA's fullbacks need to find the right time to bomb forward and stay home. They were exposed on Saturday.
  • We'll Miss You Omar: Omar Gonzalez is the leader that guides the backline and that was never more apparent than on Saturday when he left the game. AJ and Leonardo have had very limited time with one another, and confusion reigned in the back when the pairing was suddenly thrust together. Bruce Arena has a decision to make with Omar departing for national duty - Leonardo will be starting, but who will be his partner? Tommy Meyer or AJ? Based on previous outings, and the lack of trees in the box on set pieces against Bernardez and Goodson, expect Meyer to start on Wednesday if he's injury free. Never has the loss of Kofi Opare been more of a gut punch.

Call it arrogance after two beat downs, tired legs after multiple games, or just a bad game plan...but LA had a rude awakening against a dreaded rival.  Can the first road win in 2015 come in the US Open Cup on Wednesday?  Here's to hoping for payback, rather than déjà vu.