Photo by ISIphotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, CALIF- The Galaxy started off their season on the right foot with a convincing 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday, but Bruce Arena's men will still feel as if they can improve going forward into the new season.
"We're excited about the three points, but our performance was certainly incomplete over 90 minutes," said Arena."It was a good showing for the first match, but I am very disappointed that we couldn't get that second goal."
The Galaxy took the lead off an impressive bit of work by Edson Buddle, as the forward was able to shed his mark and slot in the header that put the Galaxy up for good.Throughout the match, Buddle was constantly involved in the Galaxy attack and should have come up with at least another goal, after flubbing a number of opportunities. He is hoping that this is the start of a big year after spending a great deal of time on the trainer's table in 2009 due to injury.
"Staying healthy is what I want to do to maintain and improve this year," said Buddle. "Once I'm on the field, I'm able to create opportunities for the team and then, it'll be up to me to finish my chances."
Early in the match, Los Angeles was able to exploit a thin New England midfield that was sorely missing the injured Sharlie Joseph. Without Joseph to control the midfield, the Revs ceded considerable amounts of space to the Galaxy's playmakers. Brazilian midfielder Juninho made use of that pass with sharp passing that bodes well for his role being an important one for the Galaxy this season.
"I thought that the Brazilians played pretty well, Juninho had some moments where he was able to create and will get better as time goes on ," said Landon Donovan. "The biggest thing is going to be the communication barrier. If the three of them are going to get substantial minutes than we're going to have to be able to communicate better, when that comes it will be much easier."
An issue the Galaxy will have to adress is their play in the final third as the club was unable to find the second goal that would have finished the Revolution. This included making the final pass necessary to create effective shots at the New England net. The greatest of these errors was in the 87th minute when Landon Donovan was able to race away from Revolution defender Kevin Alston, but was unable to connect to a pass to winger Alex Cazumba as the effort across the box trickled away from the Brazilian.
"It was passed incorrectly and that was very frustrating," said Donovan. "On another day if a club scores an equalizer, it's going to hurt us so I've got to be better."
Although the Galaxy had some trouble delivering the final blow, New England was largely unable to create consistent chances due to the play of the Galaxy centerbacks. Towering central defenders Leonardo and Omar Gonzalez were constantly able to force the New England attackers off the ball and distribute back into the Galaxy midfield.
The duo did have some growing pains that left the door open for New England to get back into the match, particularly in the 58th minute, when Leonardo was badly beaten by forward Kheli Dube, but was lucky to see the forward's effort go wide. The defensive pair are still battling the language barrier, but were largely in sync on the field.
"We (Leonardo and I) were very solid defensively except for a few plays in the second half and I thought we played well together," said Gonzalez. "It was great to get that first victory out of the way because last year, we started off with nine straight draws so its a great start to the season."
The Galaxy will now prepare for the Super Clasico on Thursday against a Chivas side that will be eager to prove their meddle after a disappointing performance against Colorado. For all the excitement, Donovan was quick to mention that it is just another match.
"We're all excited for the match and are very motivated, but we still act as if this is just another home game against a team that we should beat."