LA Must Continue to Build

View from the Booth

Sean Franklin vs RSL

Photo Credit: 
German Alegria

It was good to see the Galaxy
get back to its winning ways, with the 2-1 victory over D.C. United on
Sunday. 

Was it the best soccer from
LA, probably not?  But certainly you would have to say they played better
than the previous outing against New England
at Gillette Stadium. 

I see it now. Some of you are
saying, ‘Rogo, you are never satisfied.’  That is not entirely the case; I
just have come to hold this 2010 Galaxy team to a higher standard.  The
reason that I do so is because I have seen signs of what this year’s team is
capable of, and I have not seen many of those same signs in the past couple of
weeks.

This week against the San
Jose Earthquakes the Galaxy will have a great opportunity to build on their
last win, and at the same time put more separation between themselves and the
rest of the Western Conference.  San
Jose is a team that struggled a bit in the beginning
of the year, but it appears that Frank Yallop has found the right mix of
players.  The Earthquakes come into this game, unbeaten in four of their
last five, including a tough road win at Philadelphia
last weekend.  Add to that the fact that there is a long history between
the Quakes and Galaxy and it is safe to say we should be in for a good game on
Thursday night.

This version of San Jose is not only much
different from the one LA faced twice last year, splitting the two matches with
the home team winning each, it is simply a much better team.  For one,
this year’s Earthquakes team is winning games.   One reason for
winning more games is timely goals.  Nearly two-thirds of the goals scored
by the Quakes this year have come in the final 15 minutes of the half.  In
fact, seven of the eighteen goals scored have come in the final 15 minutes of
the game.

Two key players in all of
this have been Bobby Convey and Chris Wondolowski.  Convey with his
precision runs from a wide position to the center part of the field has yielded
eight assists so far in 2010.  While Wondolowski has surprised many
people, including myself, with six goals in 12 starts so far.  Of the two
players, I feel Convey is the one that LA will have to be especially aware of,
as he is the driving force in the midfield and is given the freedom to find
space wherever he can to become dangerous.  Convey is San Jose’s point guard so to speak, leading
the offense.   He has not recorded a goal yet this season, but there
is little doubt that Convey has the skill to finish his chances. He is just
more inclined to set others up.

As for the Galaxy, certainly
it was a welcome sight to see Edson Buddle tally yet another goal.  Talk
about being persistent!  It looked like the opportunity had passed for the
league’s leading goal scorer, but credit to Edson as he stayed on the ball for
the second chance and finished it past Troy Perkins.    The same
can be said for Landon Donovan.  If you have followed Landon since he
joined the Galaxy, you know he is going to find a way to get his goals, and that
includes ones from the spot.

So to this point I have
touched on what I liked at the offensive end of things.  I think you know
where I am going next? 

Defensively things look a
little unsettled lately.  First it was the two goals that the Revolution
scored last week, and now the one LA gave up against D.C.  Don’t get me
wrong, Andy Najar’s goal was a good one, but the fact that the 17-year old was
able to get on the end of that ball and head it home amongst all the big bodies
the Galaxy have is what troubles me.  The Earthquakes will have some
physical players when set piece chances present themselves this week, so the
Galaxy must sharpen up at that end of the field.

Quick Hits –

Sean Franklin.  No
question the 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year had one of his best games of the season
on Sunday.  Franklin
was dangerous at the right midfield spot, and probably should have netted a
goal in the game.  While I prefer Franklin at the right back spot so that
you can incorporate a player like Michael Stephens from the beginning, if Franklin
continues to play with that energy in the midfield there is no way to push him
back into defense.  It will be interesting to see where he starts this
game, and how he follows up last week’s performance.

Alan
Gordon.  I thought
Gordo looked very good in the partnership with Buddle up front.  It puts
less pressure on Buddle to win every ball in the air, something Gordon is very
keen at, and lets Landon play a freer role.  We all know that every
defender in the league has nightmares about Donovan running with the ball at
defenders and options available to him and Gordo helps make that happen more
often than not.

This is the first of the two
original California derby matches between San Jose and LA.  It
always carries a little extra weight for one of the teams to take the full 3
points. Let’s hope at the end of the 90 minutes it’s LA that’s left
celebrating.