View From 108:
Recently, I have had fans from both the Galaxy and other clubs tell you what its like to view the action from their seats. Well once again I get to tout my view from Section 108 in the Home Depot Center and other interesting and unknown places.So today I will tell you about an awesome experience set up by my hard working “Service Specialist” (Season Ticket Rep).
Did you know that there is an elevator located pretty much underneath the Stadium Club Restaurant. This elevator does what most elevators do. It goes up, and of course, it goes down. However, I never knew how far it went down. So armed with our special yellow passes, we descended into the depths of the Home Depot Center and arrived on the bottom floor – field level, wedged between the players’ parking lot and the tunnel that links the tennis court facility with the soccer facility.
To add to this complete sense of a foreign world, we were quickly greeted with none other than 2008 Rookie of the Year, Sean Franklin. He was running a little late so he simply waved, said hi quickly and moved down a hallway that ran away from us and perpendicular to the players tunnel and the field. Being he was dressed in slacks and a dress shirt, I can only imagine he was off to the locker room.
Located in what used to be a storage area, complete with cinder block walls, was “The Underground.” Inside there was a dimly lit lounge area, stocked with appetizers, alcohol and, Erin Dutka’s Favorite, Beer (Always to be separated from Alcohol, as if a segregated and totally unique, food group). Although this was clearly a use for the room that was never intended, it was a step that is really appreciated from a fan’s standpoint. Sure the main draw for securing passes to the underground is the ability to be next to the players’ tunnel, but the added benefit of readily available beer is appreciated and warranted. Besides, we took our beer, a handful of popcorn and stood readily at the rail to meet anyone of interest.
The singers of the National Anthem, “Honor Society” stopped by. Although, we had to ask who they were… Not really embarrassing considering we are hardly their demographic. Various other people who we were used to seeing on the sideline were there as well. There was “Calves lady” (she has the world’s best calves & she walks around the field all night in heels), and “Mustache Man” (If you have been to the games you know who I am talking about).
But the real highlight came when the players were ready to come out for warm ups. Before entering the field the players were kind enough to stop by and say hi. We had brief hellos with Josh Saunders, Donovan Ricketts, Michael Stephens, Clint Mathis, Gregg Berhalter, Sean Franklin, Dema Kovalenko, and AJ DeLaGarza (I am sure there were others, but it all happened so fast). The best thing about MLS players’ is that they still take the time to appreciate the fans.
So next time you look into the players’ tunnel, remember that there is a bar down there just waiting for people with passes to come and drink. But bring your cash, because this view from “the cheap seats” doesn’t take American Express!
Los Angeles Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes
You knew this was going to be a tough game for the Galaxy. However, I don’t think anyone could have realized how the home team would be chasing the game, but still manage to completely, and totally dominate possession.
With San Jose seeming to gain more and more confidence with every game, it wasn’t surprising that the final score would be a 2 – 2 tie. Besides, you had Leonardo starting in place of Berhalter, and Gordon took over from the young Tristan Bowen. While I have no problem with Gordon starting up top with Buddle, as Edson seems to thrive more when he isn’t the target of every long ball to his head, I did have a question with Leonardo starting. Ultimately you have to believe that the upcoming busy schedule led to this substitution.
But this week instead of going goal by goal, lets understand some of the formation changes that took place in this game. At the start of this game the Galaxy were lined up in a 4-4-2. This is a classic formation that relies on players getting wide in order to be an offensive threat. This means that both outside fullbacks and midfielders are tasked with overlapping runs along the sidelines. This also means that you can potentially put 9 men behind the ball to defend. This is the standard LA Galaxy formation and with very little exception they never break out of this mold.
However, in this game we also saw a 3-5-2 with Sean Franklin and/ or Todd Dunivant spending more time in the midfield than with the defense. This allows a player like Landon Donovan to be more involved in the offensive scheme as he doesn’t have to track back as far with an additional midfielder helping out.
But the 3-5-2 was really just a segway for the late second half substitution that put Tristan Bowen in for a Dema Kovalenko and Eddie Lewis in for Todd Dunivant. This moved Lewis to the left Mid Position and Landon Donovan Slid over to take control of the middle of the midfield with Juninho. Then Bowen moved forward to put him up top with Gordon and Buddle. The results of these switches was the first time I have seen the Galaxy play in a 3-4-3. Not only did they do well in this formation, the second half had the Galaxy absolutely dominate the possession and play.
Really the scoring for San Jose came down to two good chances that both resulted in goals. Bobby Convey scored in the 2nd minute off a tough rebound that Donovan Ricketts allowed. The Galaxy trailed for only the second time this year going into half time 1 – 0.
In the 59th minute Edson Buddle finished off a beautiful series of passes with his 12th goal of the season. The assists were given to Dunivant and Landon Donovan, who had his 11th assist of the year.
But the Defense once again let a San Jose player get loose off a corner kick. Ricketts again did everything in his power to stop the initial shot, but the rebound fell to Brandon McDonald who merely tapped it into the net from about 4 yards out.
The final goal was really just the result of constantly peppering the net with shots. The Galaxy took 22 shots in this game and in the 90th minute, Landon Donovan hopped on a bouncing ball that had been saved, but parried away to center of the 6 yard box. This goalkeeping mistake allowed Donovan to net his 3rd goal of the year and leveled the score at two. Although the goal was unassisted, only the second time this year the Galaxy have scored on an unassisted goal, Tristan Bowen, playing at the right forward position of the 3-4-3 played a wonderfully wicked, curling, knuckling ball that caught John Busch off guard allowing for the rebound.
As Bruce Arena said after the game, “I tell you – I thought we played extremely well tonight. We created chances. In the second half, we were absolutely dominating. We created some chances; hit the post a couple of times. I’m told that one that went off the post was a handball coming down. It happens. I don’t like coming away with just a point at home, but given the circumstances and how we had to scrap to get that point at home—I can’t complain.”
I have to agree with the Coach. Although you never like to drop points on a game at home, you have to put everything into perspective. The Galaxy dominated play, but were chasing the score line. This is good for these guys. They need to be challenged, and San Jose is a good team. The Earthquakes should make the playoffs if they continue to play their game of solid defense and quick counter attacks.
I will take the point at home and leave with a sense of being entertained for a full 90 minutes.
Full Match Highlights:
Puerto Rico Islanders (CONCACAF Champions League)
So tomorrow (Tuesday night, July 27th, 7PM) the Galaxy will face off against the Puerto Rico Islanders in the 1st of a home and home series that will determine if the the Galaxy will play in the CONCACAF Champions League. This is a play in series that will pit these two teams against each other twice. The second meeting will be on August 4th in Puerto Rico.
The Islanders are coached by Colin Clarke from Norther Ireland. They gained entry to the Champions League by clinching the Caribbean Football Union’s Championship. This was the first time in the club’s history they have captured this title.
In the previous two CCL appearances, they have eliminated Alajuelense of Costa Rica, and Toronto FC from Major League Soccer.
Be sure to get your tickets as this should be a very interesting game. This game will be available on Fox Soccer Channel.