It was good to see the Galaxy get back to its winning ways, with the 2-1 victory over D.C. United on Sunday.
Was it the best soccer from LA, probably not? But certainly you would have to say they played better than the previous outing against New England at Gillette Stadium.
I see it now. Some of you are saying, ‘Rogo, you are never satisfied.’ That is not entirely the case; I just have come to hold this 2010 Galaxy team to a higher standard. The reason that I do so is because I have seen signs of what this year’s team is capable of, and I have not seen many of those same signs in the past couple of weeks.
This week against the San Jose Earthquakes the Galaxy will have a great opportunity to build on their last win, and at the same time put more separation between themselves and the rest of the Western Conference. San Jose is a team that struggled a bit in the beginning of the year, but it appears that Frank Yallop has found the right mix of players. The Earthquakes come into this game, unbeaten in four of their last five, including a tough road win at Philadelphia last weekend. Add to that the fact that there is a long history between the Quakes and Galaxy and it is safe to say we should be in for a good game on Thursday night.
This version of San Jose is not only much different from the one LA faced twice last year, splitting the two matches with the home team winning each, it is simply a much better team. For one, this year’s Earthquakes team is winning games. One reason for winning more games is timely goals. Nearly two-thirds of the goals scored by the Quakes this year have come in the final 15 minutes of the half. In fact, seven of the eighteen goals scored have come in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Two key players in all of this have been Bobby Convey and Chris Wondolowski. Convey with his precision runs from a wide position to the center part of the field has yielded eight assists so far in 2010. While Wondolowski has surprised many people, including myself, with six goals in 12 starts so far. Of the two players, I feel Convey is the one that LA will have to be especially aware of, as he is the driving force in the midfield and is given the freedom to find space wherever he can to become dangerous. Convey is San Jose’s point guard so to speak, leading the offense. He has not recorded a goal yet this season, but there is little doubt that Convey has the skill to finish his chances. He is just more inclined to set others up.
As for the Galaxy, certainly it was a welcome sight to see Edson Buddle tally yet another goal. Talk about being persistent! It looked like the opportunity had passed for the league’s leading goal scorer, but credit to Edson as he stayed on the ball for the second chance and finished it past Troy Perkins. The same can be said for Landon Donovan. If you have followed Landon since he joined the Galaxy, you know he is going to find a way to get his goals, and that includes ones from the spot.
So to this point I have touched on what I liked at the offensive end of things. I think you know where I am going next?
Defensively things look a little unsettled lately. First it was the two goals that the Revolution scored last week, and now the one LA gave up against D.C. Don’t get me wrong, Andy Najar’s goal was a good one, but the fact that the 17-year old was able to get on the end of that ball and head it home amongst all the big bodies the Galaxy have is what troubles me. The Earthquakes will have some physical players when set piece chances present themselves this week, so the Galaxy must sharpen up at that end of the field.
Quick Hits –
Sean Franklin. No question the 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year had one of his best games of the season on Sunday. Franklin was dangerous at the right midfield spot, and probably should have netted a goal in the game. While I prefer Franklin at the right back spot so that you can incorporate a player like Michael Stephens from the beginning, if Franklin continues to play with that energy in the midfield there is no way to push him back into defense. It will be interesting to see where he starts this game, and how he follows up last week’s performance.
Alan Gordon. I thought Gordo looked very good in the partnership with Buddle up front. It puts less pressure on Buddle to win every ball in the air, something Gordon is very keen at, and lets Landon play a freer role. We all know that every defender in the league has nightmares about Donovan running with the ball at defenders and options available to him and Gordo helps make that happen more often than not.
This is the first of the two original California derby matches between San Jose and LA. It always carries a little extra weight for one of the teams to take the full 3 points. Let’s hope at the end of the 90 minutes it’s LA that’s left celebrating.