Monday, April 20, 2009

Week 6 : Galaxy @ Colorado Rapids

Los Angeles Galaxy @ Colorado Rapids
Saturday, April 25th , 2008 – 6:30pm
Dicks Sporting Goods Park
TV: DK, FS-W, Match Center

Quick Hits

Los Angeles Galaxy
Conference Position: 8th (-1)
League Position: 14th (-2)
Form: D-L-D-D
Last Match: 1-1 @ San Jose
Next Match: vs. New York (Victoria Street)

Colorado Rapids
Conference Position: 3rd
League Position:
Form: L W W D L
Last Match: 0-1 vs. Houston Dynamo
Next Match: vs. Real Salt Lake (DSG Park)

Last Meeting: 04/04/09 – Los Angeles 2-3 Colorado Rapids (Victoria Street)

The Rapids have historically been somewhat of a bogey team for Los Angeles and they’ve been sure to get their shots in lately. Heading into week 6 and Galaxy’s 5th game of the season, it certainly does not help things that Galaxy’s last regular season victory in Colorado came in 2002. Since then, it has been 11 games without a win in as many visits, including seven straight losses for Los Angeles. On the other hand, with a full squad seemingly in the cards, it may be high time to kick the habit and it may be D-day for LA.

Doing Things Right

“We're doing almost everything right. We've got to stop spotting teams a goal early. (San Jose) didn't have a lot of chances and it's unfortunate that we gave them such an easy one. Our play, in the run of play was good. We were very good defensively, we were good on set pieces. We keep going, and the wins are going to come.”

Landon Donovan is one of only two Galaxy players who can say that they have “seen it all” with this club. As a result, his comments on matches, situations and the overall state of the team always seem to reflect a bigger picture approach than the youngsters who are ‘happy to be here’ and the reinforcements who are ‘just glad to help’.

After having conceded 5 goals in the first two matches, Galaxy has tightened up the screws at home and managed its first clean sheet since June of 2003 and has only allowed 1 goal in the last two games.

More importantly, for the first time in three years, the team does not seem to have huge glaring gaps on any full line. There are still certain positions where the team could use help, but there is at least some level of cover in those spots.

When Rudd Gullit left the team last season, the biggest need was for a competent backline unit that could limit the number of shots on goal that Steve Cronin, Josh Wicks or Josh Saunders had to face, as well as a backline unit that did not actually create chances for the opposition. The issue has been largely addressed with Tony Sanneh, Omar Gonzalez, and Gregg Berhalter.

In midfield, Galaxy played a dangerous game of musical chairs all last season. Franchino, McDonald, Pires, Tudela, and even Greg Vanney all had to pitch in from time to time, with the end product being a porous midfield that failed to deny the opposition’s approaches before they reached the team’s own third.

So far this season, Dema Kovalenko has been the constant in that position, and if he can keep out of red card trouble, the Ukrainian will be the anchor whether Bruce opts for a 4-4-2 formation, a wider 5-3-2/3-5-2 or a “diamond” 4-1-2-1-2 set-up.

The attack has been relatively anemic, but this weekend could finally mark the end of that want going forward. Edson Buddle has been inching closer and closer to returning, and his eventual reappearance could help in two ways: One, adding the finishing that this team has needed, and two, helping lift some defenders off of a bogged-down Landon Donovan.

Donovan’s is quite right in his assessment of the team’s performance over the first four games. The team is, indeed, doing “almost everything right”. The key word in that statement being “almost”

Full Strength?

Less than a minute before Bryan Jordan knocked in the game-tying goal on Saturday night, the television cameras captured Todd Dunivant on the sidelines, ready to come in, receiving instructions from Bruce Arena. Dunivant’s long expected return, combined with the team’s ability to stay on the right side of the tracks in terms of red cards and injuries, Galaxy may be ready, for the first time in quite some time, to be at full strength this Saturday.

Also available for selection will be Gregg Berhalter, and Alan Gordon, who were both sent off in the LA derby vs. Chivas USA last weekend. Berhalter stabilized the Los Angeles backline during the match, and had a solid showing until he was forced to take a red card for stopping a clear goal scoring opportunity for Alecko Eskanderian.

Prior to that, his play seemed to also help calm down and direct rookie Omar Gonzalez, whose talent will require a mentor if he would like to aspire to being the second consecutive Los Angeles ‘Rookie of the Year.’

Alan Gordon, after having been molested most of the game by Chivas USA defenders, finally lost his cool and foolishly earned two yellows in three minutes for dissent and aggression. Gordon’s absence was certainly felt in the first half of the match in San Jose, with Donovan having two men on him at all times, Galaxy struggled to have any sort of presence going forward. Gordon’s return however, should be substantially complemented by the return of Edson Buddle.

Buddle is a better starting complement to Landon Donovan. A threat of his own, Edson helps to knock the ball in when needed, and the rest of the time, makes himself enough of a nuisance to defenders who can’t help but give Landon more space to work. Last season, Gordon’s best performances came in matches where defenses had already been struggling to account for Donovan and Buddle, so #21 was able to come in and take advantage of the extra space.

The end product of a full formula puts Galaxy in a good position heading into Saturday’s match; a position in which the team had not been in for quite some time. However, it also heaps some pressure onto the team, as the winless streak looms over their heads, and a full strength squad makes the ‘excuses’ and ‘justifications’ less palatable both for themselves and for the fans.

A Little Something on the Side

Depth is a key element for any team hoping to make an impact on any league. Your starting cast will often be good, but will, more often than not, need help coming from the bench in order to find constant success.

Unfortunately, for a team that’s struggled as much as Galaxy lately, back-up players who put together one solid game or two are often, by necessity, thrown into the starting XI and often struggle to live up to expectations.

This weekend, Galaxy struggled early going forward. The team moved the ball forward enough, but without any real threat to Cannon. Fortunately, the team showed something again that they have shown already in three of their four matches: A little something on the side.
Bruce Arena went to the bench, and both Chris Klein and Bryan Jordan helped kick start Galaxy’s offense, turning their repeatedly blunted attacks much sharper. In the end, it was Bryan Jordan who finally knocked in the much deserved match tying goal.

Previously, in the match against United, it was Kyle Patterson, Alan Gordon and Bryan Jordan who provided that spark for Los Angeles coming off the bench. Gordon almost managed to get the game tying goal himself, minutes before Donovan got the job done off a Patterson cross, by beating a leaping Josh Wicks with his head and sending it just wide.

Formerly, when Galaxy managers went to the bench, the action was accompanied with a collective sigh from the fans. So far, it seems like Jordan, Gordon, Klein, Patterson and company may be ready to show the league that Los Angeles always carries an ace, or three, in the hole.

Galaxy Injury Report


Caasi's Expected Starting XI


No comments: