The Galaxy cleanly beat the Revs, 5 to 1, in a game where two Galaxy players – Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Keane – were simply playing at a higher level than he rest of the players on the field. The fact that they each scored two goals, with Keane assisting brilliantly on both of Zardes’ goals, is the most obvious indicator.
But other indicators are how extremely well they played together as a striker tandem (I’d match them against any other in the league), and how neatly their skill sets complement each other: Keane the seasoned and savvy veteran, Zardes the young, super fast, strong runner who creates havoc all over the field. What they have in common is a soccer sense of a very high order.
From an offensive standpoint, the Revs didn’t do much in this game, getting no shots on goal in the flow of play. This isn’t to say, however, that they did not create a few good scoring chances. The one that led to their single score was Diego Fagundez’s perfect cross in the 36th minute to Teal Bunbury, who was then fouled in the penalty box, resulting in a red card for Los Angeles and Lee Nguyen’s successful penalty shot. Before that, set pieces in the 8th and 12th minutes had also caused prime scoring opportunities.
The main reason for the Revs’ defeat was – you guessed it – the play of the defense. I indict all five defenders - yes, five – because A.J. Soares was as much a midfielder on Wednesday as Bobby Shuttleworth was. Soares was guilty of fouling stupidly in his offensive half and getting red carded in the 29th minute. But Darrius Barnes, Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, and Chris Tierney are all culpable as well because they didn’t appear to appreciate or even understand the principles of basic man-to-man defense and tracking during Wednesday’s game.
The whole team must have known in advance that they were up against some good players and a hot Galaxy team. A player of Keane’s experience and ability must be closely watched when he gets 30 or 35 yards away from the goal.
On his first goal, even when he got to within about 23 yards from the goal, Barnes was marking him so loosely that it appeared he wasn’t marking him at all. As he dribbled toward the middle of the field, Keane appeared oblivious of Barnes’s presence – he certainly was under no pressure. The same thing happened in the 48th minute before Zardes’ second goal, but in that instance Barnes should have had support from a teammate.
But Barnes wasn’t the only Revolution defender who had a forgettable game. Farrell made a very serious mistake, definitely more mental than physical (given his speed), when he missed a slide tackle on Zardes that nearly resulted in the second Galaxy goal in the 15th minute.
Then there was Goncalves’s sloppy marking – and fouling – of Ishizaki in the 18th minute resulted in Zardez’s first goal, when the onfield ref played the advantage rule. Goncalves stopped playing (bad idea, until the whistle is blown), Ishizaki kept on, and the Galaxy scored.
Lastly, Tierney simply did not track Zardes in the 48th minute when he (Zardes) ran diagonally across the goal to receive a neat pass from Keane to score. This should not have been a difficult task to follow through on for a top-flight soccer player.
Overall, the Revs seem to lack a sense of urgency and team organization on defense. Result? Lots of goals for the opposition.
Dallas will be a challenge.