View from the Booth

Mark Rogondino looks at duel with the Dynamo

Omar Gonzalez vs Houston Dynamo

Photo Credit: 
Bob Levey / Getty Photos

If
you are a soccer fan, does it get any better than this? Well, let me take that
one step further. I should say, if you are a Galaxy fan, is there anything
better than where the club is at right now? 

The
Galaxy have not lost a regular season match-up since September 2009, and even
better has began this season with nine wins and two draws in 11 games.  Add to the mix that the U.S. National Team is
about to begin its own journey in South Africa, as part of the 2010 FIFA World
Cup, the Holy Grail of soccer competitions and well…it seems like “soccer
heaven” to me.  Are you with me here?

Bruce
Arena’s team has the chance to tie an MLS record of 12 straight games to begin
the season with out a defeat when they face their Western Conference rivals,
the Houston Dynamo.  This will be the
second, and final meeting of the regular season between the teams, after LA won
the first encounter 2-0 at Robertson Stadium back in early April.  This result came in the midst of Edson
Buddle’s early season hot streak in which he scored nine goals before becoming
a part of Bob Bradley’s World Cup team. 

Ordinarily
you might ask, who will be that step’s up this time around with Edson, and
reigning MLS Most Valuable Player, Landon Donovan gone to play for the
U.S.?  But if the past few weeks have
taught us anything, it is that this year’s version of the Galaxy have
depth.  There are a number of players
that can, and have stepped up to provide the scoring punch.  

Houston
comes to town playing its second game in four days, and its third in eight
days.  Both of the previous games ended
in losses for the two-time MLS Cup champion, first at home against Philadelphia
last weekend, and this past Wednesday in New York, with the Dynamo surrendering
a game-losing goal in second half stoppage time of each.

This
is all the more reason that Galaxy fans have to be cautious when these teams
meet at the HDC on Saturday.  Not once in
2009 did Houston lose three games in a row, and this is a team that is full of
veteran players, who will know how to dig deep to earn a result before the
two-week break for the World Cup.  Brad
Davis, Brian Ching, Brian Mullan, Pat Onstad and Richard Mulrooney are all
players that have been through plenty of ups and downs in MLS.  The Dynamo coach, Dominic Kinnear is one of
the best in the league, and is truly the definition of a “player’s coach.”  Guys love playing for Kinnear, and will be
willing to put it on the line when their coach’s side is in a tough patch. 

In
addition, one has to consider a small bit of revenge factor after LA won the
meeting earlier this year and knocked Houston out of the playoffs in last
season’s unforgettable Western Conference Championship the last time these two
met in Carson. 

As
for the Galaxy, all I can suggest is keep doing what has been working.  The main ingredient in that statement for me
has been the solid starts.  LA has
continually scored early in games, and in fact has not had to play from behind
for one minute so far this season. 
Imagine that.  Saturday will be
the 12th game of the MLS season, and the Galaxy is yet to play from
behind. In a sense you have to wonder how this group of players would respond
if they were to fall behind, but for now I am just fine with the way things
have played out so far.  A fast start
against the Dynamo will wipe out any hope for Houston that they can get one
positive result before the World Cup break. 

LA
will be playing at home, and they should be the team that applies the early
pressure, putting the visitors off balance in the early part of the match.  If this happens, this game might be firmly in
the home side’s grasp before we begin the second half. 

QUICK
HITS –

The
defense has been spectacular to say the least. 
Gregg Berhalter has played some of the best soccer Galaxy fans have seen
from him since he joined the club.  The
youngsters around the veteran center back are just plain solid.

More
than any other time in the past year and a half, Jovan Kirovski has displayed
why Head Coach Bruce Arena put him onto the roster.  A goal against the Sounders a few weeks back,
solid work ethic in the midfield, and veteran leadership in the absence of
Donovan and Buddle… keep it up #9.

Tristan
Bowen.  The young teenager has impressed
me more than I could have ever imagined. 
I have watched Tristan during training over the past two years, and in
all honesty, I never thought he would be this good, this early into his MLS
career.  I always felt he had some of the
tools to be successful, but did I expect Bowen to perform this well upon being
thrust into the line-up…I would be lying if I said yes.  Keep it up kid; you are making all of us
believers.