Apparently the Angels aren't the only ones who aren't getting what they paid for. Just a few miles down the freeway Major League Soccer's Galaxy has put together the most expensive collection of stars in its sport too. And though that brought them a title last year, the embarrassment of riches has been just that — an embarrassment — so far this season.
After Saturday's 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Joel Lindpere's first-half goal, the Galaxy has already lost as many games this year — five — as it did all of last season.
After going unbeaten at home last year, they've lost four times at the Home Depot Center this season. And the two shutout losses they endured in 2011? They've matched that in the last four days.
"It's a bit of a broken record," Coach Bruce Arena said. "We've got to put the ball in the back of the net. That's been the story this year."
And much of the blame for that belongs to David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, the Galaxy's three designated players who are earning approximately $12 million this year, more than the entire payroll of most MLS teams.
Saturday the trio got off six shots combined but didn't find the back of the net on any of them.
"We had the ball at the feet of our best players," Arena said. "We've got to make the plays."
It was a doubly tough night for Beckham, who was auditioning for Stuart Pearce, manager of the British Olympic team. Pearce flew in to scout the man who could be his captain this summer only to see Beckham draw his second yellow card of the season with a hard tackle in the first half, get beaten by Lindpere on the Red Bulls' lone goal then squander a chance to tie the game when he rushed a short-range shot in stoppage time, missing an open corner of the net.
"It wasn't the prettiest of matches for him to come to," Beckham agreed.
Credit the Red Bulls for that. Because of injuries and suspension, New York was missing six regulars from its starting lineup while its back line came into the game with just 15 MLS starts combined. So the Red Bulls frustrated the Galaxy by dropping deep on defense, basically keeping nine players behind the ball.
The Galaxy's best scoring opportunity came in the 13th minute when Keane latched on to a long Sean Franklin pass deep in the penalty area and volleyed the ball over New York keeper Ryan Meara. But defender Markus Holgersson never gave up on the play, making a brilliant save at the goal line.
Then in the 82nd minute Juninho got off a rocket from about 20 yards out that was headed for the far corner of the net before a leaping Meara got a hand on it. Five minutes after that Meara fisted down a right-footed Donovan chip from about 12 yards.
The Red Bulls had far fewer scoring chances but they made one of those count when, in the 19th minute, Lindpere sliced through the Galaxy defense ahead of Donovan, took a deft feed from Jan Gunnar Solli and outran Beckham to the left corner of the box where he put a left-footed shot by Galaxy keeper Bill Gaudette.