Each week here in View from the Booth, I try to give you some things to look at heading into the Galaxy’s match that week. Maybe a few things that you might not find in the match preview, you know… something to think about!
Last week in this very same spot on the page, I said something along the lines of not feeling as comfortable as I would like with the Galaxy heading to New England to face the struggling Revolution. So, what should I have to say this week? This time the trip is to the Nation’s Capitol, but once again the team LA will face, is one that is it should beat…at least on paper.
D.C. United is a team with just three wins the entire season, last place in the Eastern Conference, and winless in its last four MLS games. It has been a tough beginning to a new job for head coach Curt Onolfo. Onolfo has been dealing with something that Bruce Arena had to go through when he took over at the Galaxy, finding the right mix of players on the roster. There is some good young talent in Andy Najar and Jordan Graye, along with second year midfielder Chris Pontius. Then, there is the veteran presence of players like Santino Quaranta, Jaime Moreno and goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Recently, D.C. United have added two more new faces that they expect to make an impact, signing Pablo Hernandez and Branko Boskovic. The problem is that, like Bruce Arena when he came to the Galaxy in 2008, it takes time for these new faces to become accustom to playing together.
Let’s get back to my opening statement…the Galaxy flat out did not show up in Boston last week. Even with out its team captain, Landon Donovan, I expected a much better effort vs. the Revs. In a way, I hope it serves as a “wake-up call” to the squad. A reminder that on any given day, if the team does not show up ready to play, even a struggling team will take it to the Galaxy. New England was a team in desperate need of a win and Revs came out and showed LA they wanted it more. D.C. comes in just as desperate this weekend, maybe the Galaxy will learn from the past mistakes.
From my perspective the midfield was a major breakdown for LA in its last game. Juninho and Alex Cazumba struggled…big time. I was particularly surprised at Juninho’s performance, considering the way he played against Seattle the previous match. It looked like Shalrie Joseph got into the young Brazilian’ s head early in the game, and then just outworked him mentally and physically.
This week Juninho will face another tough battle in the middle, as Clyde Simms can be equally as tough to face. I am not expecting Juninho to overwhelm opponents physically, but he still has to know that from time to time in this league, you have to get stuck in on a tackle or two and not be afraid to “mix it up.”
As for Cazumba, it is plain and simple. In fact those are the exact words I would say to him, “keep it plain and simple.” There is no need to take seven touches on the ball, when two will do the trick. Why beat a player then slow down and wait for him to catch you so you can beat him again? Beat the guy once, get rid of the ball, and get into a good space so you can get it back… plain and simple.
There is no doubt that the Galaxy missed Landon Donovan last week. I would imagine that it pained Landon just as much being back on the west coast seeing the way the rest of his teammates played. Thus, it will be a welcome return to see #10 back in the line-up and leading the way. I am going to stick with my comments that I wrote here in this article a week ago, and that I repeated on last week’s broadcast, I expect Landon to get it going in the goal-scoring column and I expect that number to reach double digits this season. Come on LD, how about a “hattie” this week!
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts has been a huge reason why the Galaxy has turned itself around over the course of the last two seasons. Ricketts also happens to be one of my favorite guys on the team…it’s that GK connection! I think he would be the first to tell you that he had an off game last week. He wasn’t tested a bunch in the match, and both goals are ones I know he expects to save. Look for the Jamaican to bounce back this week with a solid performance.
There are a ton of players that you could say did not play well last week. I was hoping to see more out of Edson Buddle, knowing that Landon Donovan was not going to be there. No, it does not all rest on Edson’s shoulders, but last week was an opportunity for Buddle to grab a leadership role and specifically lead the team in the final third of the field. Didn’t happen. Tristan Bowen also came back to Earth. After announcing his presence to MLS during the time Buddle and Donovan were away, Bowen looked lost at times in the game against the Revs. Guys, this is the time to get back to work.
Sunday’s game will be the first of two games in five days with LA going on to host the Earthquakes on Thursday. With the Galaxy sitting on 36 points to this point in the season, two wins in the next week would take them to 42 points, just six points shy of last years entire total of 48. When you consider the possibility of the number of games coming up for LA: Friendlies, CONCACAF Champions’ League and the rest of the MLS season, you can see how important these points might be. It could also give the Galaxy a small cushion in front of a surging Real Salt Lake too. Just something to think about!