With Arena on bench, Galaxy still loses, 1-0

L.A. plays without Donovan, Beckham and Lewis as new coach can't find a way to turn it around just yet.

August 22, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

The Galaxy has been searching the world for players who can put the ball in the back of the net.

The Chicago Fire found one on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

John Thorrington, who was born in South Africa but raised in Los Angeles, scored the only goal Thursday night as the Fire spoiled Bruce Arena's debut as Galaxy coach in front of a sellout crowd at the Home Depot Center.

Chicago's 1-0 victory lifted it into second place in the Eastern Conference, just behind the New England Revolution. The Galaxy, on the other hand, failed to win for the ninth consecutive time (0-5-4) and remained in fifth place in the West.

Thorrington, who spent eight years playing in England and Germany before joining MLS in 2005, grabbed the game-winner in the 65th minute, taking a pass from Brian McBride, running straight through the Galaxy defense and firing a swerving shot that left goalkeeper Steve Cronin helpless.

"We lost the ball in a bad spot on the field," Arena said. "Give Thorrington credit, it was a very good finish.

"We were a little bit thin tonight with the loss of some players, not that that's an excuse because Chicago was missing some pretty good players as well. But the thing that I'm pleased about with the guys is that they hung in there and fought for 90 minutes.

"Overall tonight the effort was good, the organization of the team was certainly improved but not good enough. We're missing a few players at the attacking end of the field."

None of the players who took part in international matches Wednesday night dressed for the MLS game. That left the Galaxy without Landon Donovan and David Beckham -- who was due to fly from London to Beijing to take part in Sunday's Olympic closing ceremony -- and Eddie Lewis.

Lewis is now officially a Galaxy player, having taken the place of Carlos Ruiz, who was traded to Toronto FC for two supplemental draft picks and financial considerations -- in other words, virtually given away.

Lewis, 34, has played 81 games for the U.S. national team and was a member of the 2002 and 2006 World Cup squads. He is most comfortable as a left-sided midfielder but can also play left back.

Lewis will not be immediately available. He was injured in a clash of heads Wednesday night while playing for the U.S. against Guatemala and said he needed five stitches to close the wound.

"We're not certain yet when we're going to be able to get him on the training field," Arena said, adding that Lewis probably will need a precautionary scan "to make sure there are no issues."

The Fire was without Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who stayed in Mexico after the Tricolor's victory over Honduras in Mexico City on Wednesday. He will be joined by the rest of the Fire team for a friendly against Veracruz on Sunday.

Chicago did have McBride, making his return to MLS after playing for Fulham in the English Premier League since 2004. The former national team striker had trained for only five days with the Fire after returning from the Olympics.

Without Blanco to provide the telling pass, McBride did so and Thorrington did the rest.

Asked what Blanco's absence meant, Thorrington was equally quick with a quip. "We're obviously a bit younger when he's not on the field," he said.


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