View From the Booth: Winning opportunity
“Debbie Downer” is back.
No, I am not saying all the thoughts filing my head concerning this bunch are negative, but honesty, there is some concern for me. Just when I was ready to buy a ticket on the “Galaxy Bandwagon,” the team comes out with a flat and uninspiring performance last week. I just did not expect that much of a drop off in performance in the absence of Landon Donovan.
Defensively, the Galaxy are still one of the elite teams in the league, evident from the 411 minutes, and counting, of shutout soccer. But, moving further up the field, the passing was average, the movement was slow and the finishing was nowhere near good enough against a team that the Galaxy should have beaten twice this year.
Now, LA will have a similar opportunity against a similar opponent on Saturday night.
Toronto FC arrives in Southern California without a win in MLS in over a month. TFC is winless on the road and has a goal differential of minus-10. Translation: LA should be able to take the Reds apart. There are not a ton of impact players on the roster for Dutch coach Aron Winter. Really the best players for TFC are on the defensive end, and keep in mind this is a team that gave up six goals to Philadelphia two weeks ago.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei is a stud. A great young goalkeeper who played collegiate soccer at Cal – Berkley, and I will be surprised if he doesn’t get a look from a team in Europe in the next year or so. But Frei doesn’t have a ton of help in front of him, and Toronto has not been able to consistently line up a defense in front of the Swiss netminder. Chad Barrett, Miguel Lopez and a hopefully healthy Juan Pablo Angel should be grinning at the chance to run at Toronto’s defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Reds are a young bunch for the most part, but the two players that give me some caution are Maicon Santos and former Galaxy striker Alan Gordon. Santos is a player that uses speed to get in behind defenders and force players to recover and react. We all know the tools that Alan Gordon will bring to The Home Depot Center, the same ones we watched for seven years in a Galaxy uniform. Hard working, never quit attitude, and one of the toughest forwards in the league.
You also never know what to expect when a player goes against a team that he put so much in for in the past. It can go one of two ways. Either a fantastic performance that comes back to bite the player’s former team, or one pushes too hard and consequently becomes a non-factor. It will be interesting to see it unfold for Gordon, who is just getting back to good health.
I expect to see the Galaxy perform like they did against Portland back in late April. That evening at The HDC, LA overwhelmed the opponent and had a 2-0 lead before 10 minutes had gone by. The movement was sharp and fluid in the opening moments of the game, and both Barrett and Donovan found the back of the net. Substitute Angel’s name in for the Galaxy captain in the equation this time around and the result should be similar.
On the other side of the ball, LA will continue to make it difficult for opponents to score, and I think the shutout streak should have another 90 minutes added to it when the final whistle sounds on Saturday.
It may sound like I am coming down hard on TFC’s chances in this game, but in my mind there is no doubt the Galaxy should beat another Eastern Conference side, and beat them with relative ease.