What a performance from the LA Galaxy a week ago at The Home Depot Center.
Without question, the part of the performance that stuck out the most was the incredibly fast start. After scoring just once in the opening 15 minutes of their first seven games, the Galaxy struck twice in the opening 10 minutes against the Timbers, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
That quick start put Portland on their heels immediately and the Galaxy never looked back from there. Critics would argue that the quality of opponent in LA’s 3-0 win takes some of the shine off the performance, but I disagree. The way the Galaxy played in the first half would have put even an elite team under pressure and possibly trailing going into halftime.
So you may be wondering, specifically, what I liked from the fourth win of the season?
Hands down it was the best performance from the midfield all year. The ball was zipping around the pitch, the movement off the ball created space for players to attack, and David Beckham was on his game. All of these things combined to allow Landon Donovan to have more time on the ball… and that seemed to work out pretty well; two goals for those that missed it.
If this team can play with that energy and passion on Sunday in Dallas, the score could be similar when the final whistle blows. The other detail that really stuck out to me was the play of Chad Barrett. I think Barrett would tell you he should have had more than just the game’s opening goal. The Galaxy newcomer had four legitimate looks to put the ball in the net. Not finishing the chances does not concern me because that will come in time. Barrett was very active and made some intelligent runs that had the Timbers defense off balance all night.
One area where I did have concern was defending. Portland does have some threatening players in the attack, but I thought LA lost focus during a few moments of the game and the Timbers almost made LA pay for that. Yes, it will take some time for the pairing of Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza to settle in on a permanent basis, but thank goodness Donovan Ricketts played like, well, Donovan Ricketts. Otherwise Portland would have scored two or three goals. If you go back and look at the tape, Ricketts had three “bonus saves.” Those are the types of saves that give the team a huge emotional lift, almost as much as a goal scored at the other end of the field.
Looking at the matchup with FC Dallas this week, this is the opportunity for a little payback from last year’s Western Conference Championship which the Hoops won 3-0 last November. Dallas is coming off a win in Vancouver, but it was a costly trip to one of the league’s newest cities. David Ferreira, the 2010 MLS MVP, broke his ankle early in the second half and is out indefinitely. Now Schellas Hyndeman’s team will need to learn how to play without the “glue” that held them together last year.
The Colombian midfielder opened the scoring in the Conference Championship last year and it was Ferreira’s ability to create chances for Dallas that caused problems for the Galaxy and helped FCD book a ticket to MLS Cup. Consequently, I think Dallas is a team that will struggle in its first few games without its playmaker.
Therefore, this is a prime opportunity for LA not just to extend their unbeaten streak to six, but also to deliver a small dose of revenge in the process.