Soccer was invented by the English, so they've been experiencing disappointing losses longer than anyone. In the aftermath of D.C. United's 4-1 road defeat at the feet of the LA Galaxy, let's draw inspiration from the famously stiff-upper-lipped English and soldier on despite this apparent calamity. For we won't really know what this loss means until we know how the game against the New York Red Bulls turns out on Sunday afternoon.
- Steven Goff, via washingtonpost.com: "The first half proved decisive in each of D.C. United's matches on this week-long road trip, in both good and bad ways for Ben Olsen's weary squad. Four days after stunning Kansas City with three goals before intermission, United conceded three in the first 45 minutes to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night and absorbed a 4-1 defeat before 16,044 at StubHub Center."
- ChestRockwell: "Road games against the Western Conference's elite sides are not easy in a vacuum, and the challenge is made even more difficult when forced to play on short rest. However, that doesn't fully explain D.C. United's dreadful first half display tonight. The Black-and-Red repeatedly turned the ball over while failing to close down their hosts, falling behind 3-0 before finally falling to the LA Galaxy by a score of 4-1."
- Scott French, via mlssoccer.com: "The LA Galaxy sent a message to the rest of MLS on Wednesday night, piecing together another comprehensive performance, grabbing a quick lead and putting away Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United, more or less, before halftime...Both teams rotated players, with games coming this weekend. The Galaxy gave Keane the night off after he picked up a knock in the team's win over Vancouver, inserting Gordon in his spot, and A.J. DeLaGarza moved to right back with Todd Dunivant returning on the left and Dan Gargan on the bench. For D.C., David Estrada stepped in on the left flank for Chris Rolfe, who sustained a minor leg injury in last weekend's win at Sporting Kansas City, Eddie Johnson was favored over Espindola up top, Lewis Neal for Davy Arnaud in central midfield, and Alex Caskey for Nick DeLeon on the right flank."
- Mark Edward Hornish, via soccerbyives.net: "With the win and the three points, the Galaxy now vault into second place in the Western Conference, two behind the Seattle Sounders, and still with one game in-hand. In addition, the Galaxy now draw into a tie for second in the Supporter's Shield race. When asked if the Galaxy are targeting the Supporter's Shield, Donovan responded without hesitation: "Yeah. We are. We wanna make a push for it. It's a little dangerous, when you have games in hand all season, because you add up the points in your head, without the points being on the board. But now we've won these games. We've leap-frogged Dallas and Salt Lake. We play Seattle twice more, and Dallas twice more. So, there's every chance that we can get there. And like we've been doing, we'll take it one game at a time.""
- Ben Olsen, via dcunited.com: On the team's first half performance. "I will take this one. For this match, I think we had too many guys have a poor night, and I had a poor night. If you add that up against the LA Galaxy, and you're down one-zero in the first couple of minutes, you're in for a long night...I think it was a combination of us being poor, and them being very sharp. What I've always liked about the Galaxy is the way they move the ball. They can make you chase, they give the next guy more time. Their two-touch soccer is as good as anybody's in this league. But I don't care who we put on the field, they're not four-one better than us. There were some poor performances on our part."
- LA Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan, via dcunited.com: "I think we know that when we play a certain way, more often than not, we score goals and we win games. The start was good, obviously a little bit of a fortunate bounce but I thought we played well. We've been good on set pieces lately, getting guys in front of the goal and creating chances and the third goal was one of the best passing team-goals we've scored this year. When we pass and move that way, you see teams get dejected. They can't get around the ball, it's frustrating for them, and for us it gives us energy, it gives us confidence and it's been a lot of fun."
- Ben Olsen, via dcunited.com: On Eddie Johnson's performance. "He had a pretty good night, worked hard and gets the goal."
- LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, via dcunited.com: "We played well, and were fortunate, I think they created some good chances, but you know we played well. Our back line has played very well. Eddie Johnson was a handful tonight, he is a good player. D.C. United had some of the same issues we had coming into this game, they have an important game on Sunday, they need to travel back across country."
- Bobby Boswell, via dcunited.com: On road games. "I wish there was an easy answer. I think it just comes down to us getting the job done. I can make excuses and say it's traveling, but we prepare properly; they give us ample time. They put us in a position to have success and we just have to go out and take it. We've done it a couple times this year on the road. We've gone out and gotten good results. It's a tale of two games, from Kansas City to here. I think they probably watched that game and maybe they had a little bit of a different game plan, and it seemed to work for them tonight. Like I said, we were great in Kansas City, we were not good tonight. That's really all I'm going to say about it. We have to learn from it. Obviously we can't just keep giving up a bunch of goals. That's the most frustrating thing from a defensive stand point. But we've just got to get back to work."
D.C. United's road match at StubHub Center against the LA Galaxy was always going to be a difficult spot coming just four days after their road game at Sporting Kansas City (h/t league office). Knowing Ben Olsen would have to rotate his squad due to match congestion this week, it's not surprising a squad with 75% of its first choice midfield on the bench to start the game, along with their most productive attacking player, would be unable to get points against a top-tier, deeper MLS side. And, while losing 4-1 is tough to stomach for fans of the Black-and-Red, getting 3 points from the Kansas-California swing is respectable. 4 points would have been excellent, and 6 points would have been remarkable, but 3 points is respectable.
We won't know the full importance of Wednesday night's loss until we see how this weekend's game against the New York Red Bulls turns out. If the players Olsen rested on Wednesday night are able to play up to their recent excellent form, and if the team is able to secure the full 3 points from New York, then Wednesday night's match means little and D.C. United will be able to enjoy a successful 8-day stretch securing 6 points from three tough matches.
So, until Sunday, keep calm and carry on. If, however, Sunday's game doesn't go in United's favor, then it will be time to re-think this very English strategy.
The Last Word:
Ben Olsen provides the definitive, self-aware takeaway from Wednesday night's match: "If we don't play up to speed, if we are not all on the same page and focused on every play and squeezing every ounce of talent out of our team, we are not good enough. That is who we are. We get reminders every now and then, so tonight is a reminder."
What's your last word on D.C. United's loss to the LA Galaxy?