The Galaxy’s response last Saturday against the Union was exactly what I wanted to see from LA after the debacle two weeks ago in Salt Lake City. There are a couple of angles you can take on this.
Initially I was hoping to see how the team would respond in terms of play to begin the game against the Union. The answer there was a solid performance in the first half, including Leonardo’s first ever MLS goal to give LA the lead heading into the halftime break. I would call it the Galaxy’s best 45 minutes of 2011. But in the second half, the term response referred more to how the Galaxy would play following the red card to midfielder Chris Birchall. Again the team executed the game plan almost perfectly. Philadelphia created very few dangerous chances and was clearly frustrated. Even further, LA was able to find a few scoring chances of their own, despite being down a man. In conclusion, I was extremely pleased and I think Coach Bruce Arena would agree.
This week as the Galaxy head to Washington D.C., believe it or not, response will again be one of the buzz words for the week. Only this time it will be focused on the opponent, D.C. United. You see, this week it is United that are coming off a terrible 4-1 loss, at the feet of the reigning MLS Cup Champions, Colorado Rapids. Couple that with the fact that D.C. has earned three points in as many matches, so expect Ben Olsen to have his team eager to…well, respond.
This is a better D.C. United team than the one LA beat 2-1 twice last year. United has some quality attacking pieces that LA will have to be aware of. I expect Charlie Davies to be back in the lineup. Davies is playing with a big chip on his shoulder, following the horrific car accident that derailed his 2010 World Cup dreams, nearly a year and a half ago. The speedy striker is quick to tell critics that he is close to his pre-accident form, and in fact has backed up that statement with three goals, including two in United’s only win of the year. My guess is Davies will partner with Chris Pontius, a very talented third year player, who Galaxy fans will remember opened his MLS scoring account in early 2009 at The Home Depot Center with a fantastic bending effort in a 2-2 draw. And don’t forget about former Galaxy midfielder Santino Quaranta. Quaranta is back in form, and scored a cracking goal in the recent 4-1 set back.
The biggest factor that D.C. added in the offseason is former FC Dallas central midfielder, Dax McCarty. The small, crafty red head in the middle does a great job at controlling the tempo and facilitating opportunities for players like Davies and Pontius. It isn’t too often that you see a player join a new team, and then be handed the captain’s armband, but that is exactly what went down with McCarty. I suspect part of the reason Ben Olsen selected McCarty as captain is his fight and grit at the central midfield position. Always one of the smallest players on the pitch, Dax plays well above his 5’ 9”, 150-pound frame. You will see the United captain scrap for every ball that comes his way.
Enough about the opponent, what will I be looking for from LA to back up the 1-0 win from last week? Just like last week, a solid start is a must. This means sharp defending and high energy from the opening whistle. I also want to see LA find the net early. The Galaxy are yet to score in the first 30 minutes of their first four games, and an early goal will go a long way to grabbing three points this week. It doesn’t have to be a pretty goal by any means, but just getting on the scoreboard early should be enough to disrupt the rhythm that United will look to play with and give LA a distinct advantage.
Will that happen? You’ll just have to tune in to FOX Sports West this afternoon at 4:30 to find out.