In many of the top soccer leagues around the world, if you finish at the bottom of the table, you play in the second division or B league the next season. The US has a second division, the USL, but does not practice relegation, which is a very, very good thing for Beckham and the LA Galaxy.
If relegation were at stake, the Gals would currently be in position to go down one level on the US soccer pyramid as their pathetic point total (26) currently has them in dead last in MLS. That’s right, the Galaxy are even worse off than San Jose, the expansion team.
The acquisition of former U.S. National Team coach Bruce Arena was supposed to halt the Galaxy’s slide and re-energize the squad prior to the final playoff push. That hasn’t happened yet, as the results since Arena took over (0-2-2) are really no better than before he arrived. Plus, so far he’s shown he doesn’t know how to use Beckham, one of LAG’s only dangerous players.
It’s now been thirteen games since the Galaxy last won. To put that into some context, since the Gals beat the Quakes for their last win, the following have occurred:
- Three months have passed (June, July, August).
- The Dark Knight has made over $520 million.
- The MLS All-Star Game.
- Michael Phelps won 8 golds (heck, the whole Olympics and Paralympics happened actually).
- The Dynamo have picked up 19 points (Gals have only 5).
- Hillary Clinton dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination.
- Schelotto had 13 assists.
- The entire Tour de France.
- Brian McBride returned to MLS.
- Three legs of the grand slams in pro tennis and golf.
Heck, if you go by the U.S.’s “schedule” for summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), the Gals didn’t get a win during the entire season. And on a personal note, in the last three months I’ve put my house on the market, sold it, searched for and bought a new one, moved in and furnished it, and had a couple of BBQs. I’ve been busy, the Galaxy have not. They’ve been pretty putrid honestly.
The Galaxy’s final six games are not going to be easier either. They get DCU, Colorado and Dallas at home, three teams who will be pushing for the final playoff spots. They also have to go on the road to play Chicago, Houston and Columbus, three of MLS’s four best teams. Their chances of making the playoffs seem slim at best especially because they don’t seem to have any idea how to stop the bleeding.
So, what’s the problem been for the Gals this year?
Well, for me, the most shocking statistic has to be the Gals record in one goal games (1-5). You have to win those close battles to make it to the playoffs, and LA has been the worst in the league this year in tightly contested matchups. Meanwhile, table topper CMB is 8-1 in one goal games. That’s a 21 point differential earned in one goal games. If you reversed their one goal game records, LAG would be sitting pretty with 38 points and the Crew would be in last place in the league with only 24 points.
I think the teams’ records in one goal games is indicative of their overall attitude. CMB wins the close ones because they want it more than their opponent. LAG loses the heartbreakers because they are more concerned about playing entertaining soccer than putting up Ws. After Saturday’s loss to KCW, Beckham said “I’m not sure we had the belief that we could win this game.”
Well, if you don’t believe you can win, you won’t. Until the Galaxy start to think like winners, they won’t play like them. If I were Arena, I would screw practice this week and set up some time for the team to talk to a sports psychologist. Just find out who Tiger Woods uses and get that guy on a plane to LA pronto.
Could the Galaxy still make the post-season?
But to do it, they’d have to regain their offensive potency and start to, actually, you know, play defense occasionally. The Gals lead the league in goals (44), but they also top the tables in goals given up (49). While such high scoring soccer may delight the casual fan only interested in watching that Beckham fellow, I bet Galaxy fans wouldn’t mind a couple 1-0 wins down the stretch. But seeing as how they haven’t won 1-0 all season (which has to be some sort of MLS record), I wouldn’t hold my breath.
1-0 wins wouldn’t be sexy, but it would be good soccer, which is the one thing LA needs right now more than anything else. There’s no relegation, sure, but there will be embarassment in La La Land if Becks, Donovan and the Gals finish on the bottom of the table this year.