Galaxy 3, Earthquakes 0: A Supporter’s View

Los_angeles_galaxy_logo_2San_jose_earthquakes

The Los Angeles Galaxy’s transformation from butt of all MLS jokes to leaders of the Western Conference has been nothing short of impressive while Edson Buddle’s progress from wayward MLS striker to hat-trick machine is almost as jaw-dropping.

The Galaxy thrashed the San Jose Earthquakes, 3-0, with Buddle netting all three goals. The victory was thorough and made even more impressive by the fact that Landon Donovan wasn’t even in uniform to face his former team.

SBI correspondents Nathan Henderson-James and Kevin Matthiessen took in the match and share their takes on it with us:

Buddle spearheads Galaxy’s potent attack

By NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES

I have to admit that I didn’t expect too much out of the Los Angeles Galaxy in their trip to the Bay Area. Road trips for this team are hit or miss affairs, with an ugly tie in Salt Lake, an ugly loss in Toronto, and a pasting in Commerce City interspersed with the demolition of FC Dallas. And while the San Jose Earthquakes are still waiting for their offense to show up, they are tough on defense. So I wasn’t sure what was going to happen on Saturday night.

Edson Buddle happened, that’s what. Buddle has played in nine of the G’s 13 games this season and has eight goals, which is second in the league after Saturday’s hat trick (his second of the season). What was remarkable was that he accomplished this without Landon Donovan or Carlos Ruiz in the lineup, leaving David Beckham to carry all the offensive duties. Except Becks only contributed one assist from his favored right side of the field. The others came from the left, where Ante Jazic and Mike Randolph teamed up to create the first credible offensive threat from that side the Galaxy has had since… since… (Josh Gardner, no; Pando Ramirez, no;) well, I’ll let long-term Galaxy-watchers figure that one out.

But back to Buddle. When he came over from Toronto last year I was unimpressed. I felt his first touch was hard, he lost possession pretty consistently and he was offsides a lot. In any event he ended up, like the rest of the team, spending most of the season NOT playing in games due to injury.

This year he looks like a different person. Maybe hiring Ruud Gullit really was an inspired move by the Mouth Of The South(land) (everyone’s favorite red-haired quote-machine Alexi Lalas) because not only does Buddle have more goals this year than he’s had since about 2002, but the Galaxy defense is looking better and better.

Now, I’m saying all this after beating the Quakes, who account for both of LA’s shutouts and showed an attack on Saturday so anemic that Evonne Goolagong showed up to pass out Geritol tablets to everyone on the home team (folks born after the 70’s will need to google that reference). So maybe the Quakes aren’t a good enough standard against which to judge progress. Fair enough. Still, I’m starting to salivate at the thought of a potent left-side attack to go with Buddle and Ruiz up top, Landon playing a withdrawn role, Becks patrolling the right and Chris Klein bombing up from his right back position.

I’m still worried about the ball handling and distribution skills of guys like Alvaro Pires, Joey Franchino, Josh Tudela, and Pete Vagenas, but let’s say Tim Lieweke does manage to get MLS HQ to screw the rest of the league and "allow" the G’s to pick up a couple of skilled midfielders come July. Umm, wow. The Galaxy really could become the team to beat down the stretch: 28 goals already this season, the only winning record in the West, 11 out of 13 games with at least two goals, and supposedly some reinforcements on the way.

I’m still recovering from Galaxy Battered Fan Syndrome so I’m wary of getting too excited, but against the advice of my therapist I’m getting excited to see next Saturday’s showdown against a Columbus team that is recovering its scoring touch. Because I’ll be at my brother’s wedding I’ll be schnoggered enough to feel no pain whatever the result. But it’ll be better if they send Columbus home with a Crew Cut.

Bad loss caps a forgettable day for San Jose

By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN

The San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Galaxy game was definitely the worst game I’ve ever seen live. It is also among the shortlist of worst games ever seen live or on TV.

The only solace to the night was the fun we had before the game tailgating. Because there is no tailgating allowed at the ‘Quakes normal home venue, Buck Shaw Stadium, we were sure to make the best of it being as though this game was being played at McAfee Coliseum.

Though I had seen one game before this one at the colossal baseball stadium, I hadn’t yet fully realized just how terrible this stadium is for soccer and otherwise.

There are so few entrances to the stadium that while we gave ourselves about 15 minutes to go about 100 yards to get to the entrance and another 25 to the seats, we still ended up settling into our seats at the 10th minute. And the ‘Quakes were already a goal down. Ouch.

Then there’s the bathrooms. The scarcity of these were responsible for me missing the first five or so minutes of the second half. I had to walk from about the half way line all the way to behind the west side goal. Then get in line…

I could go on and on about how much McAfee Coliseum sucks, but I wouldn’t have enough room to talk about all the other things that sucked about the game. The ineptitude of the expansion Earthquakes and the shear numbers of Galaxy/Beckham fans equally added to the misfortune of being so far from the pitch at the hard ball centric structure.

I haven’t a chance to look at the numbers nor replay the game (think DVR, delete) so all my observations are strictly perceptual. That said, here’s my take on the game play. The Quakes allowed the Galaxy plenty of space all over the field. And we all know what happens when you give David Beckham time to swing one in. They also gave Edson Buddle space to score three times in about as many shots.

The Earthquakes failed to take shots on goal and barely tested the inexperienced Steve Cronin. They sent in many crosses but like ripe cherries hanging from low lying branches, they were all easily picked by a waiting and well positioned Cronin. At one point I yelled, "Shoot the damn ball at the goal!" but because of all the screaming girls and distance from the pitch, my cries fell upon no ears except for maybe the poor folks directly in front of me.

What irritated me most on the night wasn’t in fact the spanking by our most hated rivals, it wasn’t the crummy stadium, nor was it all the screaming girls. What irritated me most was the appearance of so many so-called soccer fans, in the form of adult men, coming out to a professional bay area soccer game for the first time, wearing their Beckham jerseys and rooting for the Galaxy.

I don’t care who’s on the other side of the pitch, you gotta root for the home team and support your local pro team and your local soccer scene in general. As for me, that’s going to continue throughout the season except for the next time the Galaxy visits. Anyone need two tickets?

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13 Responses to Galaxy 3, Earthquakes 0: A Supporter’s View

  1. William the Terror says:

    Nathan: I was also impressed by Jazic. But, strangely enough, I was most impressed by Abel Xavier, who actually seemed to be playing defense and helped with a goal. Ad mittedly, this was against anexpansion franchise, but he looked pretty good. I think Beckham agreed, because he gave Xavier the captain’s armband when he left the field.

  2. Nick says:

    The last person on the left side that did anything good was Martino for about a 5 game stretch a couple years ago. Then he opened up his red card printing shop.

    But seriously, I don’t know how we could afford another player unless we trade/sell, but the people that I would trade or sell don’t really make enough money to get anyone decent. I can see our FO doing something underhanded with bonuses under the table or somesuch to acquire someone from overseas though. I want Pablo Mastroeni and I hear that Colorado don’t really want/need him anymore either.

    All that aside, First in the West baby!

  3. Geach says:

    I really enjoyed this game. We had the first balance attack of the season. Jasic did add a lot of bit and width to the left side of the field. Sorry Joey Franchino, you have done your best, but you will probably be coming off the bench for a while.

    Crystal Ball: Galaxy acquires DP from Toronto for Ruiz. Galaxy uses DP to buy Bocanegra. I am actually ok with our midfield. With Donovan back, we really will have a great team

  4. rick says:

    Nathan, Lalas had nothing to do with the hiring of Gullitt which might explain why Gullitt is so good and what the team needed. Look up the original press release from when Gullitt was hired. It’s all there in black and white. Gullitt, when he was at Chelsea worked with Terry Byrne who was at the club during his stint as Manager. Terry Byrne is David Beckham’s personal manager. He now works for 19. Gullitt’s recruitment was on Byrne’s recommendation and contract negotiations were handled by Simon Fuller Beckham’s business manager and head of 19. Tim Lieweke thanked both of them during Gullitt’s unveiling. This never went anywhere near Lalas.

    Also the G’s need help on defense especially a CB much more desperately than midfield support.

  5. CrewCrazed says:

    2004 was the last time Buddle scored over 8 goals in a season, if anyones counting.

  6. Kaiser says:

    The last time the Galaxy had a threat on the left side was when Cobi Jones wandered over there chasing a long ball about 3 years ago.

    By the way, Nathan, what do you think of this 3-way trade…

    Chicago get: McBride

    Toronto get: Ruiz, Jazic, draft pick

    Galaxy get: Conde, Carr, Dunavant

    I think its a great deal for each team.

  7. josh says:

    I am a long term Galaxy fan (since day one) and have been relocated to the Bay area. I was at the game, and while I agree that the large numbers of Beckham fans must have been discouraging for Quakes folks, the real treat was that the LA Riot Squad (pre-Beckham traveling supporters) was the loudest group in the stadium all night. So the blame lies at the feet of the Quakes fans, not the weekend warrior Beckham girls.

    And the Quakes are awful.

  8. eric says:

    Nathan – I’m pretty surprised you still want to hold on Ruiz, instead of dealing him for defensive help or a ball winner. I can see the attraction of that attack, but I’d also wouldn’t want to pull Donovan back when he’s had an MVP campaign up top so far.

  9. Ken says:

    Josh, you mean Riot Squad, ACB, maybe a Galaxian or two, and other Galaxy fans. That section wasn’t just one supporter’s group.

    And Kevin Matthiessen, you are making a big assumption that most of the people cheering for the Galaxy weren’t from LA, like me. I wasn’t with the group that came up with the buses. I was in SJ visiting friends and sat in the opposite side of the stadium from Galaxy supporters groups.

  10. Kevin says:

    Josh- Apparently the loudest group you could hear depended on where you were sitting. Unfortunately I sat near you then.

    Ken- I don’t think I made that assumption. If I did, my bad. It was however my impression that there was a good number of the so-caleld “Euro-snobs” out there on Saturday. Regardless, good for you guys for making the trip.

  11. josh says:

    Ken-Yes I know, ACB, etc. My point is not the specifics of who the LA supporters were, but that the group of LA fans that traveled up from LA were a stronger presence than the Quakes fans. I am not sure why you felt the need to correct me on that.

  12. nathanhj says:

    Re: Trades… On the Galaxy side I like picking up Conde, but I don’t think we need Dunivant (even with giving up Jazic) and Lalas has traded him three times. I can’t see him and Bravo asking for him. And I’m not impressed with Calen Carr. Maybe Gullit can develop him the way he’s brought Buddle back to his early promise, but so far I haven’t been that excited to see him. I’d even take Barrett over Carr.

    As for trading Ruiz… Well, I’m not opposed to it, though I think we need someone more like Shalrie Joseph in trade rather than a center back. Frankin is rookie of the year so far and Xavier still plays very well, even with his 3 mistakes a game. We just need a decent back-up for turf games and I’m not convinced that Valentin, when healthy and fit, can’t be that guy.

    This team needs a playmaking link between the central defense and the offensive corps up top. A Michael Bradley/Rico Clark/Shalrie Joseph kind of player. Brandon McDonald’s pass from several weeks ago that sprung Becks (or was it Buddle? I’m having a senior moment) was the kind of play we need more of.

    But I wouldn’t turn down really solid defenders either, really…

  13. Kaiser says:

    Nate,

    I agree 100% that we need a DM over a CB, I just don’t see any of those guys you mentioned (Joseph, Clark, Bradley) heading the Galaxy’s way soon. The only deals for a DM/CM I could see are:

    1. Deal Ruiz to free up space so we can sign Benny Feilhaber. (However I don’t think Fielhaber will take what we have to offer)

    2. Deal Ruiz and something else for a DP, so we can sign Edgar Davids. (We’ve all heard the rumors, but I don’t think he is coming over).

    DM is a priority, but I’m not sure who they can add. Conde would be a definite upgrade at CB.

    By the way, I forgot about Lalas’ history with Dunavant, but I think Carr could turn into a decent backup for Donovan (when he is on national team duty) if given the right opportunity. Or perhaps the Galaxy could even land a young DM in Stephen King in the deal. He’s a kid that will certainly hustle.