I know we should understand that Club Tijuana is in the middle of their season and therefore in much better playing shape than the Galaxy. But despite the fact I couldn’t actually watch this game, the audio provided by www.lagalaxy.com was more vivid than I would have liked.
The Galaxy, seemed to lack the quality that is going to be necessary to beat a very good Seattle Sounders team on March 15th. Especially when you consider that the Galaxy played all three of their Designated Players (Beckham, Donovan and Angel) until the 74th minute. From the audio, the announcers were quick to point out there was a lack of fluidity and passing through the midfield.
Perhaps the one thing that stood out was the starting lineup with Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel pairing up top. This allowed the youngster Paolo Cardozo to get significant minutes and had his name constantly called. But is Cardozo the answer? How about the formation that seemingly appeared on the field with Landon Donovan playing anything but forward while joining Angel? And what about the defense? Is this our starting lineup?
So many questions and not enough answers when you consider Major League Soccer First Kick is only 12 days away. But after saying all of this I am not willing to through in the towel just yet. After all, its not as if we have ever officially taken the field in 2011.
To make myself feel better, lets talk about things I liked. David Beckham and set pieces seems to be working just fine. With Omar Gonzalez able to crash the net on corner kicks I expect to get more goals and scoring production out of the University of Maryland product. And it looks as if Arena is ready to trust Omar to be the key defensive piece. The defense is now his to operate. That also means that we can blame him when things fall apart.
Other things that make my day brighter, include a goal from Landon Donovan, and Sean Franklin and AJ DeLeGarza getting involved on the offensive side of the ball. More involvement from the outside backs means better opportunities for our forwards in the box.
But too often it sounded like there was enough support for the attacking players. The midfield was lagging too far behind the play. And it seemed, at times, the you Paolo Cardozo was caught trying to do too much.
However, credit must be given to Club Tijuana for never giving up and playing a very directed and patient type of football. Although, from the replays I have seen there first goal was offside, the controlled a lot of possession in the second half and eventually lulled the Galaxy into making a mistake.
So with Goals from Gonzalez and Donovan the Xolos were able to tie the game with a Penalty Kick late in the second half. So while the game will be determined a 2-2 draw, Penalty Kicks were used to settle the winner of the Clasico.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but anytime I think of Penalty Kicks, I think of the 2009 MLS cup. Having been in attendance I can attest to the heartache that comes with taking spot kicks to decide a winner. So anytime the Galaxy get put back in this situation, I get nervous. And rightly so!
While I consider this a good time to practice the mindset that comes with the shootout, it seems Galaxy fans are all too used to getting the short end of the stick. This was no different. Misses by Miguel Lopez and Jovan Kirovski sealed the fate of the Galaxy in San Diego and gave the Clasico win to the team from Tijuana. And with close to 25-30% of the 6,124 people in attendance rooting for the team from Mexico, it was probably a pretty sweet victory for them as well.
For the Galaxy, there are just more questions with only days to work out the kinks before they invade the fortress that is Qwest Field in Seattle. Will the lineup be different when they step onto the unfriendly field turf? Will Arena add age to counter the nerves that come with a “First Kick?” Time will tell and a grueling season will weed out all of those questions. Bottom line, whether we like it or not, come March 15th, the Galaxy will have 11 players on the field ready to play.