CARSON -- Chad Barrett's sharpness in front of the net was the biggest plus for the Galaxy in their loss to Chivas USA in Monday's MLS Reserve League opener, and it opens the door to changes that might ignite L.A.'s attack in the real games.
Barrett, who started 27 first-team games last year but missed the MLS Cup final after a gruesome foot dislocation, tallied twice from Adam Cristman feeds in the 4-2 defeat and came close to a hat trick in the closing minutes.
“Just feels good to hit the back of the net in the run of play again,” Barrett said following the game on the Galaxy's Home Depot Center training field. “Haven't done a lot of that since I got back. Just getting the confidence and striking it. … Little disappointed didn't [get the third] at the end, but it wouldn't have changed the outcome.”
Barrett, who scored eight goals in competitive matches last season, returned to training in February and played in the final two preseason matches. He has started once and come off the bench in the other four Major League Soccer and CONCACAF Champions League matches this year. These were his first goals against opposition.
He might be the answer for a disconnected Galaxy attack. Despite Robbie Keane's public protests to the contrary, Edson Buddle has not built much chemistry with the Galaxy's Irish star, who had a nice on-field relationship with Barrett last year.
Buddle, who returned at the end of January after a year in Germany, delivered a superb through ball for Keane's goal in Saturday's loss to New England, but that kind of connection has not been evident often. One of the defining images of the 3-1 defeat was Keane angrily responding when Buddle, on a breakaway, fired wide from the top of the box with Keane open for a simple finish just to his right.
The problems up top are secondary to the troubles at the back, which were further illuminated by four Chivas goals -- three by Cesar Romero, who teamed with Miller Bolaños to dominate rookie center backs Tommy Meyer and Bryan Gaul -- after L.A. gave up 11 in their first five first-team matches.
“I wish I had a remedy for it. Unfortunately, I'm on the other -- attacking -- side ...,” said Barrett, who noted the Galaxy's defensive approach involves all 11 players on the field. “Right now it seems we've got a little but of lack of communication, lack of a sense of pride, both in the reserve game and the other games. We just don't have that same mentality, that same charisma we had last year, and that's something we need to find quick or we'll find ourselves at the bottom of the table, like we are now.”
The Galaxy is at the bottom of the Reserve League's West Division table after one of 10 games, and they're eighth in the Western Conference in MLS, ahead of Chivas on goals scored. MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez's absence following surgery in mid-January to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament has brought myriad woes, but Brazilian center back Leonardo's impending return -- after a year rehabbing a torn ACL and lateral collateral ligament -- could help right things, if he can find fitness and form quickly.
“We obviously miss [Gonzalez]. He's a vital part of this team ...,” Barrett said. “Looks like the next defender we're getting back is Leo, which I'm excited for. He was playing amazing before he got hurt. So hopefully he comes back in high spirits and great help and can help us out, at least give us some depth.
“But right now we're just looking for someone to firmly put their foot down and say, 'Hey, you know what? This center-back position is mine.' And until someone does that, we might just keep conceding goals.”
WORTH NOTING: Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo, who is charge of the reserve team, was pleased that his side had better chances until Chivas broke the scoreless draw in the 54th minute. “It's a lot of young players on the field, and the important message is that there's progress and you learn from your mistakes so that the next time instead of 54 minutes, we put together, hopefully, 80, 90 good minutes. But it's a process.” … The Galaxy announced a partnership with Alaska Airlines, but no details were provided. … Sporting Kansas City, this week's opponent, is 8-0-0 when 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong scores, as he did in Sunday's 1-0 win over Chivas USA at HDC. … You can check out David Beckham's new Burger King commercial here. … Beckham recorded a video tribute to Sir Tom Finney, who turns 90 on Saturday and whose birthday will be fêted at Preston North End's game that day against Milton Keynes Dons. Finney played for Preston North End from 1946 through 1960 and made 78 appearances for England over roughly the same span.