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.