View From 108:
This week we have a different view from the stands. I will continue to try and bring in fresh perspective as we examine what it means to be a fan. So in the spirit of exploration, please welcome Guest Writer Melissa Wiley. Melissa can be found on twitter (@Melly2508) and she has also recently written a “Fangirl Friday” post for www.atfooty.com. She is a DC United Supporter but has always shown an affinity for the Galaxy Players… especially Landon Donovan and those who have attended the University of Maryland.
The View from the Barra Brava
What?!? Wait. Why am I on a Galaxy fanblog?!?! Get me out!!!! Juuuuuust Kidding
Win or lose, the Barra is a pretty special place to be during a DC United match. For 90 minutes, you are chanting, singing, jumping (or in my case, being bounced), and screaming at the opposing team. And versus the LA Galaxy, it was no different. There’s always an extra buzz around RFK when the Galaxy are in town. Previously, this was due to the Beckham show, and honestly, I bet most of the Galaxy “fans” at the game on Sunday night probably bought their tickets before Becks got injured. But the game was a desperately needed 3 points by both teams. The Galaxy needed to win after two straight losses had some people thinking “the sky was falling,” while DC United just needed 3 points to keep the season alive and to gain some confidence. And unfortunately, for me and the rest of the DC United universe, the Galaxy prevailed.
Despite the loss, I had a lot of fun watching my in second game in the Barra. So much so, I may get a membership and/or season tickets next year. If I do that, I’m gonna need to work on my stamina. By the 60th minute, I’m worn out from all the singing and jumping and bouncing and yelling. I’ll blame it on the heat for now, but I know the truth. Anyways, the Galaxy game is by far the toughest match-up of the season for me. It’s a fairly well known fact, at least to my friends, family, and followers, that I love me some Landon Donovan. It transcends the whole hate the opposing team/club rivalry thing for me. As a DCU fan I still love him, and as a Liverpool fan I still love him. But while sitting in the Barra, if that had been even remotely apparent, my life possibly would have been in danger. So I took my queue from Switzerland and remained neutral towards LD throughout the match. Except the one time he was rolling around on the ground like a little girl- then I yelled a few obscenities at him.
What’s so great about the Barra is their positivity. I can tell you that I have been in “supporter’s groups” where as soon as the team went down, they turned negative towards their own players, and in some cases started supporting the other team. And let’s be honest, United aren’t having the greatest of years. But the members of the Barra show up and cheer loud and proud. When Buddle scored the opening goal, after a few grrrrs and some swearing, they were quickly back to chanting D-C-U-NIT-ED. And then Andy Najar leveled and the crowd went mental just like that cheer said we would (warning, swear words behind the link). The Barra always keeps their promises. Now, I will say, the ref was subjected to some violent, but well deserved, slurs on his character and insults to his family. What’s also great about the Barra is how freakin’ organized they are. Every 20 feet or so, there are people standing on chairs and coordinating the chants so everyone is in sync and knows what’s going on. So instead of having fans battling each other, we are louder and more powerful. It’s honestly one of the best fan experiences I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. I can’t wait go back this weekend!
Thanks Melissa. Remember Galaxy fans if you want to join a supporters group you can always join the Los Angeles Galaxy’s very own Angel City Brigade or the LA Riot Squad. There will be cheering, chanting and a lot of jumping around…
If you have a view from 108, I’d love to hear it. Contact me through the website or on my twitter feed! All Footy Fans Welcome!
Los Angeles Galaxy at DC United
These teams are at two different ends of the table. The LA Galaxy have the best record in Major League Soccer, while DC United, with 2 more losses at home, could match their worst home record in club history. But to say this game had the makings of an upset would be an understatement.
DC United was coming off a Tie to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. In that game, the defense anchored by Julius James, proved to be the real strong suit of this team. They held New York scoreless but failed to provide any offense for themselves. They also played Seattle very closely in a Thursday night match at RFK that saw them losing 1 – 0. But their confidence level had to be on the upswing. Especially with the Player Andy Najar has been turning into.
The Galaxy on the other hand were coming off of a horrible loss to New England, in what can easily be called their worst performance of the year. With Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez both absent from the starting eleven in the Revs game, the physical and mental play was completely lacking. The midfield in particular was completely lacking of any creativity or steam.
So with the Galaxy searching for redemption, and DC United clinging to hope these two teams met at RFK stadium in front of 17,688 in 92°F heat and abysmal humidity.
The starting lineup for the Galaxy had two changes that really popped out in my mind. First of all was the replacement of Tristan Bowen with Alan Gordon. Gordon was making his first start since May 5th when he scored his first goal of the season against Colorado. Bruce probably felt the need for Buddle to get further forward on the attack and allow Gordon to be the target. This allows for the sure footed Edson to have the majority of scoring chances out of the two forwards. And lets face it. Tristan still needs some work on his first touch. His speed is a plus but he must learn to control his speed even better.
The other change in the lineup was putting AJ DeLaGarza in at right back. This allowed Bruce to give Mike Stephens a breather for the night as Sean Franklin moved from right back to right mid. This is a great look for this team. Speed on the right side with Sean and AJ, and a still solid midfield of Juninho, Birchall and Donovan.
I would expect to see this formation more with the interchangeability of Stephens and Juninho. Plus I really love seeing Sean Franklin involved in the attack.
The game itself started quickly with the Galaxy retaining much of the possession in the opening ten minutes. The lacking midfield of the New England game was no where to be found as Los Angeles dominated through the middle third of the field.
In the twenty first minute a ball played wide to Sean Franklin on the right Side was crossed inside the box to a streaking Edson Buddle. His initial quick shot on goal was blocked by DC United Keeper Troy Perkins but the rebound exposed the full goal to Buddle for a split second before Julius James was able to close down the angle.
However, it wouldn’t be long before Buddle and Franklin would hook up again. In the 38th minute Franklin once again had the ball out wide as he pressed towards DC United’s box. The cross was momentarily intercepted by midfielder Stephen King but was quickly stolen by Edson who rapped a quick shot off of Perkins. The rebound was once again gathered by Buddle and while shielding King from the ball was able to turn and beat both King and Perkins for the Galaxy’s first goal of the game.
The maturation of Edson Buddle this season is something to watch. This was an individual effort that showed why he is the leading goal scorer in MLS. He simply wanted it more than anyone else on United’s defense. A Great goal, and a superb effort.
However the Galaxy barely hung on to the lead before going into the half. DC stepped up the attacking game just prior to halftime. The flurry of effort culminated in a great passing sequence between Hernandez and King. Hernandez was able to hold the ball up in time for King to make a diagonal run that left him on the top of the six yard box. A sliding stop by Omar Gonzalez prevented the ball from reach Ricketts, but it was not cleared. The ball was again shot on goal by Santino Quaranta but his strike was off center and was easily corralled by Donovan Ricketts as the referee blew the halftime whistle.
Starting the second half both teams came out strong. But it was DC United who gained the momentum. Off a set piece, about 35 yards from goal, Pablo Hernandez found the almost hidden Andy Najar for a brilliant header that brought the game back to level. Najar made a perfect run, and in traffic, was able to elevate above the taller Edson Buddle, and strike for goal.
The Galaxy have been known to have one or two defensive lapses in a game but Najar made the best of his half chance with utter precision. I can say I am excited to see this kid keep playing… Maybe one day for the USA?
With the score now level the Galaxy responded the way you would expect. They played well through the middle and distributed to the wide wings.
Four minutes after Najar had brought things level, the Galaxy were on the attack when an errant DC United clearance lead to Sean Franklin be able to attack down the right hand side. With room in front of him he took a shot from just outside the box. A sliding Julius James attempted to get in front of the ball to block it. However, he did so with his arms up and away from his body. The ball struck James’ outstretched hands inside the box and the Galaxy were awarded the Penalty Kick. James received a yellow card for the infraction, and upon replay, could have been sited for intentionally handling the ball and would have been an automatic red card. In this case justice was served correctly as Landon Donovan buried a shot low and to the right of Troy Perkins who had guessed the correct way, but was just a little late in getting there. Overall an excellent PK taken by Donovan won the day.
In the 62 minute Juninho took a knock that would see him leave the game. The resting Michael Stephens took over for the balance of the game. As of right now there is no news on his injuries and whether or not he will be available for the San Jose game.
So with Stephens now controlling the midfield he was whisked into the middle of a war as United didn’t give and inch. The Galaxy were able to easily handle most of the swarming offense. However, with only 2 minutes left on the clock DC was able to fool the high-line trap the Galaxy defense was setting. Five United players were unmarked in the box (how many were offside and how many were onside is anyone’s guess) when a great ball was played behind the Galaxy defense. The result, unfortunately for DC, was a ball headed harmlessly over the top. However, to say that they could have leveled the game in the 89th minutes, would be an understatement. And unfortunately this would be the last gasp for DC as the Galaxy were able to kill off the remaining added time without too much of a problem.
With this win the Galaxy are able to right the train that was starting to fall off the tracks. While their effort and technical skills were much improved over the New England game, especially considering the searing heat and humidity, there is still room for improvement. But the fire and hunger has returned to this Western Conference leading team, and that gives off a sense of pride and focus that was missing from the previous 2 games.
Full Match Highlights:
Thursday Night Match-up Against San Jose
This Thursday night, July 22nd, our First place Galaxy face off against Western Conference Rival, San Jose Earthquakes. This game should be extremely good. San Jose is not the same team of last year. They have been playing inspired football as of late and they will be a real test for a Los Angeles team that hasn’t lost at home all year.
San Jose will be coming off an international friendly they played against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday at home. They will face the Galaxy at the HDC on Thursday night and then play Seattle at Buck Shaw stadium on Saturday.
This is a game you will want to see in person. So go grab your tickets. (www.lagalaxy.com/tickets)
As a special note, I should be going down in the player tunnel before the game, so I hope to have some great pictures and another good experience to share with you guys!