View From 108:
Am I getting spoiled? I mean my Galaxy did just score four goals in a route of Houston. They effectively limited Houston to one real shot on goal and a fluke clearance problem that led to the worlds slowest rolling goal. But as a fan of this particular Los Angeles squad, I feel the need for perfection. I don’t like watching another team score on us! In this way I know I am spoiled. The Galaxy have the best defense in Major league soccer. They have only allowed three goals in 1,080 minutes. That is three goals in 12 games.
This team has made me expect crisp, short passes with accuracy and pace. This team has made me expect superb midfield play. This team has made me expect to see unrivaled work rate and unmatched dedication to the product they put on the field.
It wasn’t long ago, 2 years, that this Galaxy team failed to make the playoffs. Those were the games where the Galaxy would lose 4 – 3 or 3 – 2. Those were the days where our offense was first in the league and the defense was non existent.
But then Bruce Arena arrived on the scene with lights and sirens and showed Los Angeles fans what had been missing from the years prior. There was consistency, hard work, and a visible increase in soccer IQ.
These are the reasons I love to go to the LA Galaxy games. Because they strive for perfection, and although find it unattainable, have the supporters expect it as well.
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo
What can we say about the Los Angeles Galaxy that hasn’t already been said. The Galaxy dominated this game from the start. Jovan Kirovski started up top for the Galaxy with the speedy Tristan Bowen. Without both Donovan and Buddle (Away in South Africa for the World Cup. Buddle Scored two goals in the friendly with Australia earlier on Saturday.) it has been left up to different players to step up and score the goals. Bowen had a goal in the previous win over Columbus.
To date 22 of the 24 Galaxy players have started a game at one point or another. This truly is the deepest team in MLS. And their true calling this year has been to score first and early. This game was no different. Jovan Kiroski scored merely 47 seconds into the game to the give the Galaxy a 1 – 0 lead. This was the 3rd fastest goal in Los Angeles Galaxy history. The fastest goal in history was scored by a younger Clint Mathis against Kansas City in 1999 and took only 33 seconds. This goal was also faster than AJ DeLeGarza’s score against Philadelphia earlier in the year that took 53 seconds.
So Kirovski scores quickly and I expected the Galaxy to shut everything down and just absorb pressure. But a funny thing happened in this game. The Galaxy decided 1 goal was not going to be enough. They immediately began trying to push forward to score another goal. This kind of intensity has been missing from other games and I was glad to see the aggression. This is attacking football. Not just “bend but don’t break.” However, the downside to attacking football is that you can get caught in transition.
Cam Weaver took a ball from his midfield and put a wonderful first touch on the ball that lead to Sean Franklin, Donovan Ricketts and Weaver crashing into each other just outside the 18 yard box. Although the official stats claim it was a shot on goal, it was really just a crash of bodies and a ricochet off of weavers leg that lead to the ball rolling with no more speed than a toddler crawling. All 20,826 fans stood up to watch the ball slowly roll over the touch line for a goal.
Unfortunately this ended the Galaxy’s “No Goals Allowed” streak at 463 minutes. The streak had started after Philadelphia scored in a 3 – 1 Galaxy victory at the Home Depot Center Earlier this year.
I was worried that the guys wouldn’t know how to respond to such a fluke goal. The answer for our boys was to bear down and start working harder. The passing was fairly crisp and the Galaxy really did spend a fair amount of time in the Houston last third of the field.
The key to the Galaxy’s success in passing really comes down to the midfield of Michael Stephens and Chris Birchall. Stephens plays the offensive role of distributing the ball to the wings, while Birchall plays the hard-nosed holding defensive midfielder role. In any case the Galaxy quickly built up the attack again.
In the 21 minute Stephens combined with Sean Franklin (both had assists on the previous Kirovski score) to once again find an unmarked Kirovski making a late run down the middle of the pitch. He calmly struck it on the first touch burying his shot past the diving Onstad to score his brace and put the Galaxy back into the lead 2 – 1.
It then came down to the Galaxy defense not allowing any chances on goal. In fact, only one shot was put on Ricketts the whole night. He made the save off a good strike from Brian Ching but the shot really didn’t pose any real threat. In fact the Galaxy, while allowing 10 shots total, only saw the Ching blast actually find the space between the pipes. Other than some quick touches Ching was relatively absent from the game and the Galaxy shut down a top notch scorer in Major League Soccer. You have to be wondering how much the US Men’s National Team snub by Bob Bradley is really effecting his confidence and mental state.
In making one save on the night and allowing just he redirected ball, Ricketts has an MLS leading .28 goals against average. This stat reflects not only Ricketts’ cat like reflexes and ability to make tough saves but also the unbelievable job the Galaxy defense is doing.
In the 48′ off a turnover from the Dynamo, Tristan Bowen found himself facing a chasing defender and the goal keeper. Bowen beat Onstad near-post to extend the Galaxy lead to 3 – 1. It might just be me, but Onstad is looking a step slow lately. I have seen him get beat near post two times by the Galaxy offense. Buddle scored a goal in the first meeting of these two clubs in Houston. He snuck a ball between Onstad and the Post in a “he has no angle to shoot” goal. Bowen, While having a better look at the goal also beat Onstad on the near post. This a an absolute no no! His defense is letting a lot of players through the back line but he has to keep the players shooting to the far post whenever possible.
The real nail in the coffin came when Michael Stephens (Assist number 3 on the night) switched the ball to Alex Cazumba on the left side of the field. Alex, on loan from Sao Paulo, Brazil, took on the Houston defender and found enough room to blast a left footed shot, far post, past a sprawled out Onstad. To celebrate Alex did his best samba impression. Its good to see everyone get in on the scoring, and in this case the celebrating.
Overall this was a textbook win for the Galaxy. The stats may show a more balance game, but the bottom line is the Galaxy finished their shots on goal while Houston, under pressure from the number one defense in the league, found only 1 shot, besides the redirected goal, testing Donovan Ricketts.
Full Match Highlights:
Chanting Ching Controversy
So this has been coming up around the “blogosphere.” During the match on Saturday, the supporters groups on both sides of the field, were chanting a particular message to Brian Ching. Being relatively new to following the US Soccer program, I have to admit that my history of player personnel is rather skewed. But I can say Brian Ching has always been a top notch competitor, and as I have been told by many people who have met him, a class act.
But in the course of club games there is going to be chanting that tries to get in the head of the competition. In this case the supporters groups were chanting “US Reject!”
Hearing this during the game I looked at my buddies who were sitting next to me and we exchanged a “not cool” look. We do appreciate what Brian Ching has done for the US Men’s National Team. However, I also have no problem with them chanting it. My rules are don’t be vulgar and don’t get personal (i.e. someones family). This was a chant playing off of his soccer experience so I say its fair game. Is it classy? No. Was it inappropriate? I’ll let you guys argue that. I can think of far worse things to chant about than someone being left off the US National Team.
RSL on Wednesday Night
The Galaxy will make a mid week trip to Rio Tinto Stadium as they will take on the second place Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah. This will be the last game for the Galaxy before the two week World Cup break. The Galaxy currently stand 12 points ahead of Salt Lake with a game in hand.
This week we will once again hear about the Galaxy’s undefeated streak and how they will be facing a tough opponent in Salt Lake. While I don’t disagree, the cushion the club has given itself by taking so many points out of the first 12 games, makes this match-up a “non event.” With that being said, I also expect LA to come out with something to prove, as a win in Utah would mean a season sweep of the defending champs. No matter what anyone says the workman like Galaxy will be looking for further revenge for the loss in the MLS Cup.
Game Time is 6PM Pacific time and will only be available on MLS Direct Kick (Or maybe there is a Fox Sports West tape delay… They know how much I love that!). I am hearing that there is a tape delay at 11PM. Have fun waiting up for that one. I bet they will block my Match Day Live, to force me into the tape delay. Yet another reason to loathe the MLS website, their marketing, and their product offerings. They’ll get it right sometime!
Enjoy the game and Go Galaxy!