Lately, it seems the Galaxy have forgotten how to defend at the end of matches.
On the final play of the game vs. Montreal, Didier Drogba's knuckling free kick from distance should have been a routine save for goalkeeper Brian Rowe, but the ball slipped through his hands to give the Impact three points.
When in doubt... @didierdrogba. #MTLvLA https://t.co/OjCKCCyh4d— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 29, 2016
The sequence was similar to what happened vs. the Rapids earlier this year, when an errant Daniel Steres clearance fell to Marco Pappa who banged home a volley late in stoppage time to seal another last-second collapse.
At home vs. the Earthquakes, it was the 87th minute when Fatai Alashe made a darting near-post run to flick a header into the net. And the week before in Philadelphia, rookie Keegan Rosenberry took advantage of a bobbled collection from Dan Kennedy to tap-in another late equalizing goal.
So LA is more or less guilty of coughing up goals at the end of games this season. Should Bruce be concerned?
I would say no, and here's why:
Consider the goals vs. Philadelphia and San Jose as outliers. Kennedy came in cold vs. the Union and had a sluggish performance, and hats off to the Earthquakes for a well-taken finish.
Also consider that early-season form is a thing and LA are hardly the only squad to screw up in the back.
Piece of . https://t.co/lmrBLbgKGP #MTLvLA pic.twitter.com/JZXlbIhepI— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) May 29, 2016
Now, about those costly individual errors...
Marco Pappa compite por el gol de la semana en MLS, 1er rival S. Giovinco, link para votar https://t.co/r1H4Qhc2xj pic.twitter.com/1G3pXhDwHM— LOCO X EL FÚTBOL® (@LOCOXELFUTTBOL) March 14, 2016
You could be forgiven at times this season for mistakenly believing Daniel Steres and Brian Rowe have been around the league for some time, when the reality is both are going through a run of games as starters in MLS for the first time in their careers.
As the two least experienced players in the starting eleven, there were always bound to be growing pains as the pair grew accustomed to playing at a higher level. It's less surprising than it is inevitable the Los Dos graduates would struggle at times to put in consistent performances.
As cringe-worthy as the clips appear, such mistakes are part of their growth as professionals, which in the long run will benefit the Galaxy. Years ago it was Cobi Jones who astutely noted that every team in the league has issues and problems to sort out, the trick is to fix things at the beginning of the season.
Better for Steres and Rowe to learn the ropes and get the major foul-ups out of the way now, so by the time results start to really matter, the two should be good to go.
Despite the dropped points, LA are still in a favorable position in the rankings with 2-3 games in hand over their Western Conference rivals. And Steres and Rowe are only going to get better with more experience. There's a reason Bruce has opted for the 3-time USL Top XI center back over the reigning Defender of the Year in Leonardo.
Have no fear, Steres is here. https://t.co/lmrBLbgKGP #MTLvLA pic.twitter.com/voK69dbXOT— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) May 29, 2016
Now, this isn't to say the Galaxy defense is perfect, or even satisfactory by any means. The midfield is susceptible to counter-attacks, LA have a propensity to give up goals with a lead big or small, and eventually we need to talk about Steven Gerrard turning the ball over.
But by the time the All-Star game rolls around, expect the last-minute goals to subside.