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Bruce Arena says Galaxy loss was his fault; but was it?

Bruce Arena, coach of the Los Angeles Ga

Bruce Arena, coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy, speaks during a press conference in Manila on December 1, 2011, ahead of their friendly match with Philippines’ Azkals on December 3. Beckham’s sights are fixed on playing in the London Olympics next year, but the superstar said December 1, he was less sure about his future when his contract with Los Angeles Galaxy ends. The 36-year-old former England captain, in the Philippines as part of a week-long Asian tour by LA Galaxy, told reporters he still had to make up his mind about his future. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

I appreciate a good mea culpa as much as the next guy.

I especially appreciate a right-proper “my bad” when it comes from someone not accustomed to delivering them, someone who usually has all the answers, usually knows just what’s what.

Bruce Arena took the blame for the L.A. Galaxy’s loss Saturday, second-guessing that he should have used fresher bodies in the 3-1 loss at home to Real Salt Lake. Maybe the L.A. Galaxy boss has a point. After all, things did go south at the Home Depot Center late in the game, when the legs tire and the mind becomes more vulnerable to flagging focus.

I explained about the three key defensive errors yesterday in this post (now with accompanying video.) And here’s what Arena said afterward:

“We had a tired team tonight we still could have won this game. I think this game is on me, it’s my fault. I think I should have used fresher bodies. We hit the wall and made mistakes attributed to fatigue. I think the travel and two games this week added up to being a pretty tired team over the last 20 minutes and it cost us the game. I take full responsibility for that.”

Fair enough. But I do wonder …

First, is this just the country’s wiliest coach taking some pressure off players who may be feeling a bit too much of it? Arena’s an old hand at working the press like the savviest sofa slacker works the buttons on FIFA 2012.

Everyone wondered about the Galaxy defense this year. This is the power-pack back line that allowed more than one goal in just seven matches last year. When you’re picking more than one ball out of the next in just 7 of 34 matches (20 percent), you’re bound to have a smashing season.

Except now, the Galaxy has already allowed that many in its only two competitive matches of 2012. Real Salt Lake pushed three past Josh Saunders on Saturday. And Aron Winter’s Toronto side hit the Galaxy rear guard for two in last week’s CONCACAF Champions League contest.

That, of course, was the match to which Arena referred, the one that supposedly left his side so tuckered. Yes, it was on artificial turf. And, yes, Wednesday to Saturday is a fairly speedy turnaround. But it’s early in the season, and players have dealt with these relatively quick turns before. Are they really so spent so early in the campaign?

Arena made just two changes, Tommy Meyer for Andrew Boyens at center back and Marcelo Sarvas for Juninho as David Beckham’s central midfield partner. Nine others did start both contests.

The second point is this: If Arena is correct, that his team was pooped by the end Saturday, what does that mean for Wednesday, when the Galaxy needs a win or low-scoring draw to advance against Toronto in their Champions League second leg?