A "suicide mission" this was called to become, and a suicide mission this ended up becoming.
Last year, early in the season at that, the question was this: Can anybody stop the Los Angeles Galaxy? This year, the question is this: Can anybody stop Real Salt Lake?
And somewhere out in San Jose, Costa Rica, a certain team wearing purple stripes is taking a deep breath and a big gulp: Jason Kreis's Real Salt Lake team are the real deal.
They made the Galaxy look like a ragtag group of overpaid prima donnas, crushing LA to the tune of 4-1. And this came from successfully incorporating their brand of football, which involved excellent pace and speed, superior ball movement, timely defending from their backline with stops from goalkeeper Nick Rimando, and clinical finishing.
Last year at Rio Tinto, Javier Morales was the culprit in stopping the winning streak for the Galaxy. This year, Morales wasn't the only one in on the party.
While Morales got his goals in the 10th and 41st minute, Andy Williams broke open the scoring just less than 120 seconds into the match. Paulo Araujo, Jr. added an insurance goal in the 68th minute of play.
The Galaxy's Juan Pablo Angel added a goal in the 80th minute to make the scoreline respectable to an extent.
For Real Salt Lake, this was the same form that defined the Galaxy early on in the 2010 campaign. While it's too early to draw any parallels, as of right now, RSL can't be touched.
Los Angeles failed to play their style of football. David Beckham's leadership ability failed him tonight at Rio Tinto stadium in Sandy, Utah. The defense played tired, the inability to adjust to the altitude proved costly, and Saunders did not do any favors in fouling Araujo early in the first half.
Actually, the Galaxy didn't do themselves any favors giving up the Williams goal early in the run of play. The best teams that will win any form of trophies do not break into a habit of surrendering goals in transition.
You can't blame Landon Donovan having to help the USA salvage a 1-1 draw with Argentina for the Galaxy's unforgivable meltdown. Nor can you blame match referee Jair Marrufo for issuing a bevy of yellow cards to the Galaxy.
This Los Angeles side will have a tough year ahead of them if they perform at this low of a level. You can't get outrun, out-passed and out-defended if you expect to be a contender in MLS.
Los Angeles has a chance to get right and bounce back with authority. Perhaps they could use the spacing technique on their next opponents, the Philadelphia Union, and see where this takes them. Who knows?
Kickoff at the Home Depot Center is scheduled for Saturday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports West.
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