BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. — It was a tale of two teams going in very different directions as the surging Kansas City Wizards defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-0 on Saturday night.
A pair of goals from Davy Arnaud and Jimmy Conrad were the difference as Kansas City stretched their winning streak to two games. Los Angeles was given their second straight home loss bringing their record in the past seven games to 2-4-1. After failing to fight back from yet another deficit, the Galaxy understand that the time has come for reflection during this current run of poor form.
"They (Kansas City) just seemed to want this game a bit more which is not a good sign," said rookie midfielder Michael Stephens. "We need to be all be looking at ourselves in the mirror and come together as a team to figure this out so that we can put in good performances again."
For the third straight home game, the Galaxy went down with an early goal when in the 11th minute, Arnaud was the recipient of a timely pass by Kei Kamara and coolly put the ball into the back of the net of Donovan Ricketts to give Kansas City an early lead.
Kansas City would strike again in the 70th, after a sloppy foul by Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall on Ryan Smith led to a crucial free kick. Arnaud took the free kick that caught of the boot of defender Jimmy Conrad whose shot bounced off the post and into the net. The goal sealed the victory for Kansas City which is now 4-1-2 in their last seven matches.
“This was probably our best 90 minute performance that we’ve had all season long," said Head Coach Peter Vermes. "Tonight, the guys played every role of the ball and in the end, it yielded the correct result for us. I commend the guys for our work ethic.”
That work ethic was very apparent throughout the night as Los Angeles was constantly beaten to the ball by the quicker Wizards defense. When the Galaxy were able to receive the ball in an advanced position, the Wizards' physical defenders consistently forced the Galaxy into costly turnovers in the final third of the park. The defensive performance for Kansas City was so thorough that the Galaxy were held without a shot on goal during the first half.
Los Angeles' best opportunity came in the 50th minute when Birchall unlocked the defense and fired a shot that forced a toe save. Birchall would force another save just eight minutes later that preserved the lead for Kansas City that would soon be extended. Despite some late chances for the Galaxy, the story was clear that Kansas City appeared to be the hungrier team on the night.
“We got out-competed tonight at the start of the game,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “All this was about was fighting and scrapping tonight and we lost that part of it. That was the difference in the game – they played harder.”
Yet again, the Galaxy were without the presence of key players as Juninho and defender Gregg Berhalter were out of the first 18. The Galaxy may be without their Brazilian midfielder Juninho, who was unavailable for the match due to personal and visa related issues that forced his return to South America. Arena stated that it is unknown whether or not he will be available in time for next week's match with Chicago. In addition to the question mark about Juninho, Arena announced that midfielder David Beckham is being evaluated "week to week" for a possible return to pitch.
Los Angeles can find solace in the fact that six of their last eight matches are at the Home Depot Center. The Wizards will look to continue their hot streak next week on the road against the expansion Philadelphia Union. Kansas City now finds themselves three points outside of a playoff berth. Despite the win, the Wizards are aware that there is still plenty of work if they are to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
"We didn't get the results we were supposed to get early in the season, we were playing attractive soccer, but we didn't get the results," said Kamara. "Everyone had their heads on right that we're just not playing for 30 games, were playing to get into the postseason."