The Galaxy struggled at the rear in a 4-2 loss to MLS Cup champion Colorado in their Arizona opener Wednesday, giving up two soft first-half goals to Conor Casey and another cheap one near the end in their first preseason defeat.
Landon Donovan won and converted a penalty kick and Adam Cristman crisply finished from Frankie Hejduk's overlap as L.A. used superior second-half possession and intense pressure to pull even, but Irish trialist (and certain signing, if the numbers add up) Caleb Folan netted the winner for Colorado in the 76th minute, and trialist Stephen Emory scored a beauty from 26 yards three minutes later.
“I thought a number players actually did well today,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said on a video posted on the club's website. “We made a few mistakes, I think, on marking in front of the goal. But I think it the preseason, it's still a little bit difficult, not only for the players, but the referee struggled on a couple of plays today -- but that's all part of it.
“I thought overall, it wasn't a bad effort by our group.”
The Galaxy thought two of Colorado's goals were offside: Casey's first, in the 19th minute, and Folan's go-ahead chip; defensive unity takes time to build, and Arena has tinkered with combinations during the first four preseason games. Gregg Berhalter and Omar Gonzalez, likely the first-choice tandem in central defense, have logged just 75 minutes together -- just 15 against Colorado, ending with Folan's goal. (Gonzalez and Leonardo, Wednesday's starters, have been together 107 minutes.)
Casey's other goal was almost comical. Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant retreated to a Jamie Smith free kick into the box, virtually alone, clang a header off his crossbar, then crashed into Casey, who bounced a header in at the far post.
FIRST-CHOICE: Arena used close to a first-choice lineup, the exceptions being Leonardo (rather than Berhalter) in central defense, Miguel Lopez (in place of absent David Beckham) on a flank, and Mike Magee (with Chad Barrett's hamstring feeling tight) next to Juan Pablo Angel up front. A.J. DeLaGarza came on at left back at halftime and moved into the middle, next to Berhalter, when rookie Ryan Thomas replaced Gonzalez.
WORTH NOTING: Cristman's goal was really nice. Hejduk took the ball from rookie Hector Jimenez on a right-wing run, streaked toward the byline and cut the ball back, along the ground, to Cristman, just inside the box. The big forward first-timed sharply inside the right post. … Donovan won the 58th-minute penalty kick when he was fouled by Kosuke Kimura while taking a pass from Michael Stephens on a quick counterattack.The goal was Donovan's first of preseason. … L.A. plays Vancouver on Sunday in Tempe and Tuesday in Phoenix. … Colorado's starting XI was close to first-choice, sort of. The only clear starters missing were central midfielders Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz, more or less the heart of the side.
Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts (Josh Saunders, 62); Sean Franklin (Frankie Hejduk, 62), Omar Gonzalez (Ryan Thomas, 77), Leonardo (Gregg Berhalter, 62), Todd Dunivant (A.J. DeLaGarza, 46); Landon Donovan (Hector Jimenez, 62), Juninho (Paolo Cardozo, 62), Chris Birchall (Jovan Kirovski, 46), Miguel Lopez (Michael Stephens, 46); Juan Pablo Angel (Adam Cristman, 62).
Colorado Rapids: Matt Pickens (Ian Joyce, 46); Kosuke Kimura (Stephen Emory, 62), Marvell Wynne (Drew Moor, 46), Tyrone Marshall (Scott Palguta, 46), Anthony Wallace (Logan Emory, 46; Adrian LeRoy, 83); Brian Mullan (Sanna Nyassi, 46), Joseph Nane (Wells Thompson, 62), Wells Thompson (Ross LaBauex, 46), Jamie Smith (Michael Holody, 62); Conor Casey (Caleb Folan, 46), Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa, 62).
GALAXY 2011 PRESEASON (1-1-2)
Feb. 4 vs. Loyola Marymount at HDC: W 7-1 (goals by Birchall 2, Angel, Berhalter, Juninho, Kirovski, Cardozo)
Feb. 8 vs. Portland Timbers at HDC: T 1-1 (Cardozo)
Feb. 10 vs. San Jose Earthquakes at HDC: T 1-1 (Magee)
Feb. 16: vs. Colorado Rapids at Tempe, Ariz.: L 2-3 (Donovan, Cristman)
Feb. 20: vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at Tempe, Ariz.
Feb. 22: vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at Phoenix
March 9: vs. UCLA at HDC