View from the Booth: Rogondino does not expect many changes for LA ahead of Union test

Just four days after beating Chivas USA, Galaxy make inaugural trip to PPL Park

Chris Birchall vs Philadelphia Union

Photo Credit: 
German Alegria

With
just a few days rest, LA make their first appearance at PPL
Park in Philadelphia
to face the Union for just the second time
ever tonight.  Even though this is a
Union team that has been eliminated from playoff contention, don’t count them
out just yet.  Head Coach Peter Nowak
will make sure that his guys are charged to not only play hard, but to try and
make life difficult for LA heading into the final games of the year.

It
was a pretty good first half for the Galaxy in their last match, but the second
half left me a little unsettled.  Yes the
ultimate goal is to walk away with three points, and you can also argue that Alan Gordon’s goal was clearly offside…but, what
concerns me is that the Galaxy have the chance to burry a team early in the
second half and Chivas played its way back into the match.  Because it is getting closer to playoff time,
I want to see the killer instinct from this team.  When you have a 2-0 lead at the half, one
more goal in the first 15 minutes of the second half, more often than not will
kill off the rest of the match.

Like
many of you, I was surprised by some of the changes that Bruce Arena made to
the lineup.  Re-inserting Michael
Stephens and Chris Birchall into the midfield seemed to be a good balance with
Juninho and David Beckham.  You can count
on the rookie to always fill in the gaps defensively.  Stephens seemed to hit a wall about a month
ago, probably due to the fact that the professional season is a longer season
than what he encountered at UCLA, but a couple of games on the bench appear to
have served him well. 

The
same can be said for Birchall.  Always a
competitor on the field, Birchall seemed to really be pressing to tally his
first goal in a Galaxy kit, and at times that hindered his decision making,
particularly with the ball in the final third of the field.  It is akin to a young quarterback in football
getting a chance to stand and hold the clipboard for a couple of games,
watching how things operate from the sideline, and then when presented with an
opportunity to come in and show he has picked up from watching the game with a
different perspective.  That change of
perspective helped both players.

The
other noticeable change came in defense, where A.J. DeLaGarza came in and
partnered with Omar Gonzalez in
central defense.  Certainly we know those
two players are familiar with each other, not just from last season, but also
from their time in college at Maryland.  Not to take away from Leonardo or Yohance
Marshall, but if Gregg Berhalter is not able to be in the back four, I think
that the combination of A.J. and Omar is the best solution for LA.  The understanding between the two, the
balance of a big powerful defender in Gonzalez, and a speedy, feisty defender
in DeLaGarza provides a great blend.  It
will be interesting to see if Arena agrees with that, we will know as soon as
the starting lineup is announced this evening. 

As
for the Union, they have made steady growth
over the season under Nowak.  Some of the
young players the team was really counting on at the start of the season like
Mwanga, McInerney, and Nakazawa have all started to step up.  If you look back at the line-ups from early
in the year, #1 draft pick, Danny Mwanga was hardly seeing the field, and when
he was it was in a second half sub role. 
With just a few games remaining, Mwanga has worked himself not only into
the starting 11 on a regular basis, but is also Philadelphia’s second leading scorer.  Because Philly is out of playoff contention,
the question now becomes will he give some of his other players more time on
the pitch to see if they are part of the plans for next year, maybe taking away
from giving his team its best shot to win the game? 

Once
again, their starting lineup will answer that question.

Quick
Hits –

I
guess if there was any question how David Beckham’s injury affected his ability
to take his patented free kicks…the answer is a resounding “NO!”  Great strike from Beckham, and let’s hope
that is the start of a couple more heading toward the playoffs.  That could be a massive weapon in LA’s
arsenal down the stretch.

Edson
Buddle seems to be getting back into form at the right time.  It helps that now not just Landon Donovan is
on the field, but also Beckham to force defenders away from cheating toward
Buddle.  As we watch the race for the
Supporters Shield continue for the Galaxy, don’t forget to keep your eyes on
Buddle and his race for the Golden Boot in MLS.  

Lastly,
I know I always take time to mention the fans and the support they provide for
the Galaxy, specifically at the HDC. 
Well I am urging you to step it up another notch for these final two
home games coming up.  I just returned
from Seattle
where I called the 2010 U.S. Open Cup Final, and it is amazing how much the
crowd affects the match.  I know that you
the fans can play a similar role for the Galaxy.  So, get your friends, your family, and your
co-workers and tell them to come out to the games.  Two big Western Conference opponents will be
coming to Southern California, and the matches
will carry plenty of importance in the final standing. I hope to see you all
there in Carson
next weekend.

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