Robert Mora

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

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.