Rogo: LA needs to ‘play their game’ in KC

Galaxy have a perfect record in 2010

Buddle vs KC - 2009

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora

I
think that I am as shocked as some of you are right now. I know we all knew
that this was an improved LA Galaxy team over the last year, but I don’t think
anyone could have predicted that the 2010 MLS season would start so, well, perfectly.

So
far in the 2010 MLS season, the Galaxy have navigated their way through a
variety of different obstacles.  From an
opening weekend win against the New England Revolution, to a tough derby match,
and recently wins against the two teams they faced to finish up the 2009
campaign, this year’s team is on the right track. 

This
weekend presents yet another new challenge against the new and improved Kansas
City Wizards.  K.C. is in a state similar
to that of the Galaxy entering last season, trying to make changes to a roster
that has disappointed the fans and been left watching the playoffs from home in
recent times.

What
has been impressive for the Galaxy so far this year is that the team has been
dealt a couple of minor blows— i.e. – injuries— and the team has continued to
roll along, filling in the gaps without missing a beat.  The most recent hiccup came when Sean
Franklin picked up an ankle sprain against RSL this past week at The Home Depot
Center.  I for one will say that I was
shocked to see Bryan Jordan as the first player up off the bench to step in for
the 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year.  Working
the sideline for FSC’s broadcast, I asked Bruce Arena
if he gave any thought to bringing in Gregg Berhalter—looking back, Chris Klein
would make even more sense— and Arena responded that “Berhalter is not a right
back.”

And
Jordan
is? 

Credit
to both Jordan
and Arena, the moved worked out.  Jordan
looked a bit uncomfortable at times, but seemed to settle into the defensive
spot as time went on in the second half, and once again, Arena showed why he is
the guy making the big bucks and pulling the strings for LA—and why I should
just stick to my day job.

Moving
from the defense of LA to the rest of the field, I think many of you have to be
pleased the way Juninho bounced back. 
The Brazilian recorded his first MLS assist on Buddle’s game winning goal,
but more importantly, found ways to get the ball more often and in more
dangerous positions.  If this player
continues to grow throughout the season, the Galaxy might have its central
midfield spot locked down for the next few years. 

Along
the lines of central midfield, I think Chris Birchall played his best game of
the season this past week.  There was a
couple of moments where Birchall could have been a bit more unselfish going
forward, but it is defensively where LA want the Trinidad & Tobago international
to make his biggest contributions.  With
Dema Kovalenko out of the lineup, Birchall is a perfect fit to sit in front of
the back four defenders and eat up any loose balls at the top of the defensive
third.

Lastly,
let’s take a quick look at the pieces up front. 
As I have discussed with a few colleges over the last week, this is an
ideal situation for LA.  You know that
Landon Donovan is still going to get his double-digit goals during the
season.  The MLS reigning MVP already has
four assists this year. 

Holding
it down in the meantime is this guy named Edson
Buddle, who is simply en
fuego
right now.  Buddle is now the
leagues’ 10th all-time leading goal scorer and appears to have found
what ever it was that he was drinking during the 2008 season, when Buddle
finished the year with 15 goals.  After
finding the net just five times last season, Buddle is already up to seven
goals, and I get the sense he is going to beat his ‘08 total.  Talking with the New York native over the past three weeks, he
just seems mentally in a great place, and physically healthy for the first time
in a couple of seasons.

You
may have noticed that I spent almost zero of this article talking about the
opponent for Saturday night in Kansas
City.  Well,
that is because if the Galaxy go out and play the way they have been for the
majority of 2010, it really should not make a difference which 11 players are
on the other side are.  Covering the
Galaxy and various other teams in the league, I sometimes hear coaches talk
about how they want their team to go out and just “play their game.”  Oddly enough, that is how I feel LA should
look at the game against the Wizards this weekend.

It’s
worked over the first four games, no need to change it up now.