Defense keying Galaxy's success in 2010

Los Angeles allowed second-fewest goals in regular season

CARSON,
Calif. – In 2008, the Los Angeles Galaxy had a spectacular offense,
leading the league in goals with 55 and providing entertainment in
nearly every
game.

But that team finished 13th out of 14 teams in the overall league standings, as their potent attack couldn’t make up for a leaky defense.

Since
then, however, the emphasis has been on defending. Last season, the
Galaxy’s attack was strong but not among the top three highest-scoring
teams.
The defense, though, was solid as only two teams allowed fewer goals.

The
defensive philosophy has not changed in 2010. With the second fewest goals allowed during the regular season, Los Angeles are hopeful their defense can carry the day
once more
on Sunday.

“That’s
what won us this series, the way the defense, the back four have
played,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said after knocking out the
Seattle Sounders. “We’ve
got young players in the back … and they’ve played exceptional in these
games.”

With
an unsorted back line down the stretch, LA suffered. The club
had just two shutouts from July on in league play. An injury to Gregg
Berhalter
cost the team one of its most experienced and key players, but by
season’s end, A.J. DeLaGarza had settled into the central defensive role left in Berhalter's absence.

But in LA's first 14 games of the 2010 campaign, they recorded 10 shutouts.

“We’re
finishing how we started – strong defensively,” Galaxy goalkeeper
Donovan Ricketts said. “If you want to win a championship you have to be
strong
defensively.”

DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez have paired in central defense the first two
playoff games with Sean Franklin and Eddie Lewis out on the flank. The quartet did not play once together during the regular season, but
injury to Todd Dunivant forced the inclusion of Lewis and things have
worked out despite the move.

Aside
from an organized back four, both Beckham and Landon Donovan have
dropped back to defend and have helped the Galaxy stay compact and keep
opposing
players from finding too much room to maneuver in.

If you're surprised to see an international superstar like Beckham – a player renowned for his flair on offense – drop back, don't be.

“I
did it when I was 18, 19 years old at Manchester United," he said. "There’s no
reason why I shouldn’t be doing it here. Me and Landon have
worked hard
in these two games and you’ve seen the success we’ve had. If we defend
well, we know we’ve got the power to break teams down.”

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