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.