D.C. United 4, Galaxy 1: A Supporter’s View

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Can anybody stop D.C. United? It sure doesn’t look like it.

The D.C. attack is reaching ridiculous heights, with Luciano Emilio hitting his stride and the rest of the attack flowing well around him. The return of Ben Olsen also added an emotional boost to a team that was already riding a cloud.

The Galaxy was on a pretty good run as well, but its defense was ripped apart yet again, leaving us to wonder whether LA’s record and modest success is more a product of the weak Western Conference than the Galaxy’s own strength.

SBI correspondents Joel Sanderson and Nathan Henderson-James took in the action and shared their takes on the match with us:

After slow start, D.C. is rolling

By JOEL SANDERSON

Like any new car, Volkswagens need to be broken in. For the first three games after DC United became Team Volkswagen, DC was busy getting the engine warmed up and rolling.

Rollicking might be a better word.

Notice to the LA Galaxy, you have been rolled. Rolled over, rolled through, rolled down. LA’s offense looked threatening in that first half, but goals are more important than nice runs of play and I do believe it was DC that put the ball in the back of the next first.

It was nice to see that the two worst defenses kindly gifted goals to each other.

Jazic can be such a sweetheart sometimes. Like Santa in the Christmas parade he threw DC treats and like little children Quaranta and Moreno reach ed excitedly for the candies and sweets.

Not to be outdone, or rather, as he is usually outdone, Mr. Gonzalo Peralta (he is no longer a member of the Fighting Gonzalos) decided that he would do his best to cook up a little something special for the Galaxy, a tasty meal that would fill their bellies up just right. And fill it did. Such a nice boy that Gonzalo Peralta, always so giving, never taking.

It filled the LA bellies just right too, because the Galaxy got together at halftime and voted not to score any goals. A touching display of sportsmanship in return for the free meal.

And so the Volkswagen machine, with an engine built in Argentina, dropped it into third gear while rounding the corner towards the halftime whistle.

Luciano Emilio was obviously upset that Edson Buddle had gone two goals up on him for the season when he scored earlier. Now, it wasn’t the prettiest header, but the Galaxy defense is bad. The soft, looping header was watched in amazement. The Galaxy defense must have thought that it was so beautiful, they way they stood around an watched.

And on marched DC. The Galaxy had lost their touch by halftime. It wasn’t comfortable because the Galaxy can score at any time.

But DC was thwarting that offense. In what was the most confusing turn of events, the Galaxy didn’t look threatening in the second half. The DC midfield controlled the game properly.

And then the midfield scored through good friend Marcelo Gallardo.

And Emilio reminded the young Edson Buddle that it’s too late to apologize for trying to show that he can score. The real goal-scorer is Emilio. He matched Buddle’s 10 goals and probably told him after the game that he should go home, take a cold shower and think about what he’s done.

DC is the dominant team right now. Show me a team that can play defense and I’ll show you and offense that can make that defense weep.

I’m already excited for the return game of this series in September. DC will have had almost a full season of developed chemistry, but LA will have the home field. The only minus is that Beckham will likely have picked up an injury and be limping around the field.

And on the topic of injuries… Mr. Ben Olsen. His acting skills aside, Olsen is the old car, the one you drove for years but that now sits in the garage needing a tune-up. But he’s still good. He doesn’t run like he used to. He never saved American soccer from whatever it was that he was supposed to save is from, but he doesn’t quit. Usually when he walks onto the field, no matter the level of competition, he becomes the smartest player in the game.

So hello Benny, it’s nice to have you back where you belong.

And DC, it’s nice to see you stomp a top team.

And to critics, remember that in this run of 5-0-1, DC has played New England, LA, Toronto, Chicago, and New York. Of the top seven teams by points, that’s five of them. The other two are DC and then Columbus.

No other team has a run like that against the top teams in the league, not even the Revs or the Crew.

Ugly loss shows Galaxy’s flaws

By NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES

This Los Angeles Galaxy Supporter’s View of the Sunday DC United match-up comes to you from deep within enemy territory. The well air-conditioned environs of Finn MacCools on 8th St SE, to be precise, where the Barra Brava t-shirts are as thick as the Olsen and Moreno replicas. And thank God for the AC, because DC was hot and the only tickets I could afford were for the 4th deck. So instead of hassling with 37,000 of my closest friends in the heat and humidity, I and a buddy camped out at Finn’s for the ABC doubleheader.

I invested in the bottomless samosas, which was probably the smartest thing I did during my entire vacation on the East Coast (does it annoy anyone else besides me that people in California insist on calling it "back East"?), because five minutes into the game Ante Jazic gifted United a penalty kick. Jaime Moreno last missed a penalty in 2004, so the result of such situations is about as automatic as it gets in futbol: Los Angeles down, 1-0 before half the fans were in their seats. So I was feeling pretty smart about the bottomless samosas, of which I was already on my second.

The thing is that while the Galaxy has the most high-powered offense in the league, it isn’t a championship-caliber team. It still hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record, is 1-4-1 against Eastern Conference teams, and has the league’s leakiest defense. And if ya’ll have been paying attention you’ve noticed that going into Sunday’s game, DC was undefeated in their last five games, winning four. I honestly wasn’t expecting the G’s to win this game.

But I have to say I wasn’t expecting them to get so thoroughly beaten, either. Unlike the opening game debacle against Colorado, the G’s didn’t actually look horrible. They played smart futbol, they fought hard, they even knotted up the score in the first half on pure tenacity from Edson Buddle. But United just flat out played better futbol.

This is a personnel issue. It’s not that the Galaxy’s back four are so very very bad (in fact I’m still on the Sean Franklin for Rookie Of The Year bandwagon), it’s that the midfield, outside of the G’s $6.5 million dollar (a year) man, is mediocre at best, a stable full of back-ups and guys playing out of position. Without a midfield that can control the pace of a game, keep possession when necessary, break down a defense with its passing, and, most importantly, provide protection for the back-line, we are going to see more of what we saw at RFK when the Galaxy plays quality, in-form teams. In this particular game, the G’s didn’t have an answer for the crosses, service, and runs from Fred, Moreno, Marc Burch, Santino Quaranta, and Emilio.

Having said all that, David Beckham and Landon Donovan have to do better. They simply have to. Becks was marked out of the game and could never find a way to put his stamp on it. He didn’t have enough touches and when he did get the ball he was often so far from his preferred spot he couldn’t jump-start the offense. Landon had some crafty runs, including the goal ruled offsides, but ended up shooting right at Zach Wells.

The word on the street is that Carlos Ruiz is on the trading block. I’m hopping the Galaxy brain trust is looking for at least one Shalrie Joseph-type midfielder and one Fred/Robbie Rogers/Steve Ralston-type midfielder (okay that’s really three different types of midfielders, but they are all attack-minded players with ball skills and good positioning).

In the meantime, we’ve got a match-up this Friday between MLS’ best make-shift team (New England Revolution) and the MLS’s best offense. Honestly, this could end up being another Boston Massacre, but, after being embarrassed on national TV, I think the G’s will be out for redemption.

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21 Responses to D.C. United 4, Galaxy 1: A Supporter’s View

  1. DAVE says:

    The Galaxy’s defense is S*^T. Let’s dump the baggage and buy now!

  2. northzax says:

    Finn MacCools has bottomless Samosas? doesn’t all the filling fall out? I am a fan of their bottomless mimosas, however. the bloodys are a little bland.

  3. William the Terror says:

    Nathan: I have it on good authority that every member of the Galaxy actually reads your weekly gane analysis here on SBI. When you failed to file a report last week due to your attendance at a wedding (or some other dubious excuse), the team felt it no longer had anything to play for and just fell flat. Now that you’re back, I trust that we’ll see a more inspired performance against a New England team that is overdue for a loss.

    By the way, as to your aside, people in the U.S. are all from one of only 4 places: “up north,” “down south,” “back east,” or “out west.”

  4. DC GEAR HED says:

    Really, mimosas while watching soccer.No wonder its so quiet at HDC

  5. kco says:

    NATHAN makes a great point, part of the problem with the LA defense is the bench warmers turn starters in central midfield. On Sunday they proved their inexperience when they were invisible on DC counters. They need to be the ones stepping up adding needed pressure or a professional foul or two to slow down the deadliest counter attack in MLS.

  6. kco says:

    William – don’t forget about us lost in the wheat fields known as the Midwest. :-)

  7. EdTheRed says:

    @William: he didn’t forget about you. We tend to refer to that as “nowhere.” ;-D

    @northzax: way to bum me out! I was all set for an endless stream of Indian pastries stuffed with potatoes, onions, peas and other goodies on my next visit to Finn’s…

  8. Rashid says:

    I say we dump ruiz and xavier then proceed to find a central defender that can solidify the back line!

  9. Ryan says:

    While most Galaxy fans have been clamoring for a new CB (not that we couldn’t use one), I’m with Nathan that our more pressing need in the midfield. Yes our back four is poor, but part of it isn’t their fault. So often they’re 1 v 1 and have no support. Of our 4 midfielders (5 when Landon plays there), none of them excel tracking back and tackling. What we really need to shore up our defense is a central midfielder who can be a destroyer. He doesn’t need to get forward much because we have plenty of people going forward, but he needs to provide support for the defense. Becks, Landon, Buddle and whoever else we have goign forward will get us goals so we don’t need another body up front, but rather someone to slot in behind them and stop the opponents midfield from dominating possession. Not only will it help our defense throughout the match, but it will make it far easier to maintain possession outselves and hold onto the 1 and 2 goal leads we’ve blown so often.

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  11. Kaiser says:

    I agree the G’s need a defensive midfielder, but who? I don’t see a lot of guys who could fill that role.

    One idea: Trade Ruiz to Colorado for Mastroeni. I know Pablo’s best days are behind him and he gets caught out of position, because he’s not as fast as he once was, but he could commit the smart foul to stop a counter, or pick off a ball or two. He’s definitely better than anyone we’ve got. Also Colorado still feels they need a striker, and I could see Ruiz being very dangerous with service from Gomez, Cooke, and Clarke out of that midfield.

    One more thing, DC blew the G’s out and deserved to win, but it bothers me that Gallardo shouldn’t have been on the field in the 2nd half. I watched that replay several times, and Gallardo wasn’t looking at the ball, he looked back to make sure he connected on Donovan. It wasn’t incedental…it was intended. Should have been a RED! I know it happened fast and the ref didn’t see it, but Gallardo should have been gone. DC fans, watch the replay and see what I mean.

    OK just one more thing…Burch was awesome…how did we let him go?

  12. Nick says:

    @Kaiser: If I recall Burch was a casualty of our constantly changing regimes of the past 3-4 years.

    This Eduardo Dominguez rumor sounds to me like the Pavon rumors before we came out and announced the signing. It looks like a step in the right direction with a defender that is mean and can control the ball as well as attack.

    I’m still on this Edgar Davids thing because his contract was not renewed by Ajax. Getting rid of Ruiz for allocation money and bringing in Davids would be nice. Also Vanney could get traded for cap reasons for a young, decent player.

  13. northzax says:

    Ed: if you’ve ever seen Finn’s at noon on a saturday, you wouldn’t want the samosas…I love the place, but on a football saturday, it can get a bit, well, huh…I love the place.

  14. Nathanhj says:

    Well, as you can read, the MIMOSAS were bottomless, which is probably why I started calling them SAMOSAS. I had, like, 60 oz. of those bad boys.

  15. Nathanhj says:

    William The T: You flatter me. I heard that Alan Gordon prints it out and uses it for toilet paper, which is his perogitive; after all he gets paid to play futbol while I carp and natter.

    Your geographic nomenclature makes sense, though I do love it when native Californians talk of going “back East”, as if somewhere in their past they hailed from Boston or Philadelphia.

    However none of this explains the penchant for some Mainers to describe themselves as being from “down East”.

  16. Dick says:

    To get more bite in midfield (in the absence of new personnel), I would play Ruiz up front with Buddle and use Donovan in an attacking midfield role. I’d also use Franchino instead of Pires. I may be overstating it, but Pires seems to turn the ball over even more often than Gordon.

  17. eric says:

    I’m a southern boy who’s spent a lot who’s spent a lot of time in northern cali, but I had to call home “back east”, or else they’d think I’d be talking about Mexico. Make a “the south will rise again!” crack, and find yourself in the middle of an immigration debate.

    I’m also feeling the “Gal’s need a CMF, not a CB” debate as to what to do with Ruiz, who I see as having no point in keeping – lets just PLEASE do the 3 way trade with Toronto and Chi that brings McBride to Chi, pairs Guevara and Ruiz at BMO, and puts a class CM in LA – wouldn’t everyone’s summer be better?

    If Tor could end up with everyone’s favorite spare parts – sorry, not new hamstrings for Claudio but Conde and Ruiz, they should give LA Edu since he’s Euro-bound anyway in 18 months tops.

    I have been more impressed with the Xavier/Franklin pairing lately than with their holding MF. Especially Jazic and Pires, they are my least favorite of the 4 choices, with McDonald then Franchino my favorites… but it’s a lot of mediocrity.

    It should also be said that Donovan was really inconsistent with his effort. The bloody eye woke him up a little, and I don’t think he completely mails them in with Beckham on the field, but all the tell-tale signs were there. Despite the freak ABC broadcast, I don’t think he wanted to be on that field. I’m really ready for someone else to indisputably be the best American player, but no else is there right now (potential doesn’t count).

    Oh yeah, DC was fabulous. Fred is way more important to DC than he’s given credit for, and Quaranta got the same memo Buddle did, the one about washed up prospects putting their games together. If they keep it up for several more years, than you kinda have the career arc of the Unfrozen Caveman Midfielder himself, Mr. Ben Olsen, who still has that move if his ankles do.

    Peace Y’all

  18. northzax says:

    Nathan: if you really care, I can explain the ‘down east’ phrase. The coast of Maine is typically downwind and east of Boston, so in the days of sail, you could make Portland or Bar Harbor on one reach, a ‘downeaster’ thus ends today’s lesson in 18th century American sailing lexicon.

    By the way, when I grew up in Oregon, Wyoming was ‘back east’

  19. Kaiser says:

    @Eric Did you just propose the greatest deal in MLS history?

    Chicago gets: McBride

    Toronto gets: Conde and Ruiz

    LA gets: Edu

    That is brilliant! Chicago gets thier striker. LA gets a quality midfelder, who may not leave for Europe if he has the chance to play for Gullit and next to Beckham for a few years. However the best part is TFC will really become the league’s most hated team with Conde, Guevara, and Ruiz all on the same team…the all crybaby team! We could all laugh together as they tear that team (and each other) apart.

    Fire Lalas right now and hire eric as the G’s GM!!!

  20. Kaiser says:

    One more thing…

    Anyone know who Eduardo Dominguez is? All I’ve heard is he a defender from Argentina, but does anyone know about his game? What type of player is he?

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