Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIPhotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. — Before the Los Angeles Galaxy suited up against Real Salt Lake, the looming question was, justwho would start in the home opener three days after a hard-fought CONCACAF Quarterfinals match against Toronto FC? Against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, the Galaxy made just two substitutions from the squad that went the distance against Toronto.
The stability paid off initially as the Galaxy took the lead off an Edson Buddle strike midway through the second half, but RSL struck back with three unanswered goals late en route to a 3-1 victory. Following the Galaxy's first loss at home since November 2010, Arena stated numerous times during his post game press conference that "fatigue" played a major role.
Arena also took aim at MLS' schedule makers claiming that it was "very poor job on behalf of the league in terms of the scheduling" that the Galaxy were action while the league's two other participants in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, TFC and Seattle Sounders, were given the weekend off.
At halftime of RSL's victory over Los Angeles, MLS commissioner Don Garber admitted to the media at the Home Depot Center, that "there was no way around" having the Galaxy sit out opening weekend.
"It was just the way that the program schedule worked out," Garber told reporters. "Tim [Leiweke] wasn't happy about it, Bruce [Arena] wasn't happy about it, but there are just so many games that you can fit into the schedule the way that we needed to and its the way that the schedule played out.
Although the question persisted about the match, Arena by no means used the game as an excuse. The Galaxy manager took responsibility — saying so five times in a five minute interview — for allowing nine of his starters to go 90 minutes just three days after going the distance in a rigorous CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal match in Toronto.
"We probably could have changed half the team. We'll have to make changes against Toronto," said Arena. "I thought that we played alright, to be honest, we just hit the wall, I think that was my responsibility."
Arena found support from an unlikely source, as RSL head coach Jason Kreis offered his own thoughts on the scheduling after his side defeated the Galaxy. Kreis is keenly aware of Arena's issues having experienced a fair bit of fixture congestion last season while he navigated RSL to the CONCACAF Champions League Final in 2011.
During the claret-and-cobalt's run to the final, the club twice dealt with a short schedule turnaround during their semifinal match-up against Deportivo Saprissa. But on Saturday when asked if he felt that it was fair that Los Angeles was playing on opening night after their CCL fixture, Kreis did not hold back.
"No, I don't," Kreis said after the match. "It doesn't make any sense to me why Toronto doesn't have game this weekend and the Galaxy does and Seattle has the weekend off. That's the way it should be, LA should have the weekend off. "