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A Supporter’s View: Los Angeles Galaxy


Just when you thought it was safe to watch the Los Angeles Galaxy, the nightmare returns. What nightmare? The one posing as a defense in Galaxy uniforms.

The Galaxy gave up three goals to a Toronto FC team that had scored a single goal in two previous games. Yes, Amado Guevera made his debut, but that wasn’t the only reason Greg Vanney was beaten like a Pinata full of hundred-dollar bills.

So this is what Alexi Lalas meant by sexy football.

SBI Correspondent Nathan Henderson-James would probably call it something else. After watching his team lose to Toronto on its home turf, Henderson-James is ready to share his take on the disaster that his club is fast becoming. Here is his report (Share your own thoughts below).

The Galaxy nightmare continues

by Nathan Henderson-James


Last week I said, "[A]ny team that can string together any sequence of passes in the midfield and has even half a striker will be big trouble."

I rest my case.

The fan trivia question at halftime (correct answer gets you a gift certificate for $25 in auto parts!) was, "When Cobi Jones scored the Galaxy’s first ever goal exactly 12 years ago, what other current Galaxy player was also on the field?" The answer? Greg Vanney. Here’s my trivia question for this past Sunday’s game. "Which Galaxy player was beaten on every one of Toronto’s goals?" You get one chance.

There were some bright spots on Sunday. The Landon Donovan – David Beckham connection is just coming into its own. If they both stay healthy and can deal with the disruption of international duty, they are going to give opposing defenses fits. Ely Allen was loads better this game than he was last week. Sean Franklin gave me no reason to wish for Abel Xavier or Troy Roberts to come off the bench.

But the midfield link between the (so very very slow) defense is looking decidedly low-rent. Alvaro Pires continues to do a fine job disrupting, but a poor job distributing. Pretty much the same with Brandon McDonald (who was able to stay on his feet most of this game). And it’s not like Pete Vagenas suddenly figured out the secret to the completed forward pass when he came in either. I know I just gave Allen props above, but he blew two chances in the box with a bad header and an inability to one-touch a shot. (Donovan did the same, but he made up for it by finishing two other chances. That’s why he gets paid the big bucks and Allen gets just above senior roster minimum.)

Finally, for my money Carlos Ruiz cannot get healthy fast enough. I don’t care how amazing Alan Gordon’s work rate is, if your finishing in the box reminds me of the elegance and flourish of a three-year-old painting the baseboards in my living room, then I’m gently suggesting you get the hell off the pitch! Edson Buddle’s 22 minutes weren’t a whole lot better, though had he scored that goal in stoppage time I’d probably be more forgiving. After all, he did juke a few defenders with the ball at his feet, something Gordon should just stop trying to do.

In truth, things didn’t look so bad. The G’s really dominated the run of play in the first half and the passing was about a thousand times more creative than in any game I watched in 2007. Those predictions that this team could end up with a number of shoot-outs like last year’s 5-4 game against the Red Bulls are looking better and better. If the team had one more central defender who had either the positioning of a Michael Parkhurst or the speed of a Marvell Wynne, or the balanced combo of a Jimmy Conrad, things would be a whole lot different.

But it is worrying that they gave up three goals to a second-year team in a losing effort on their home field.


I wonder how Ty Harden’s gig with Goodwill is going…


  1. I agree with Eric wholeheartedly. Klein is a useful if expensive player. He always seems steady with the ball and hardworking. He’s probably their best player outside of their big 3. Yeah, I know that’s not saying much.

    I did state at the time that Findley and Sturgis is a lot to give up for him though.

  2. Jazic is injured and won’t be available for a couple of months, unless he progresses really really well. He’s an upgrade from Randolph and Gavin, but not a massive upgrade. And frankly, Randolph isn’t where the bulk of the backline’s weakness lies…

  3. I don’t toss Klein in with the other genuine roster disasters. Could you spend $190k better in MLS? Yeah. But he’s a solid professional who should be putting up 7 goals/7 assist kind of numbers. He won a championship in KC and is the kind of non-star who could easily be starting on a contender.

    The bigger problem with Klein is they gave up Robbie Findley and Nate Sturgis to get him. I agree to the extent that I’d take those two guys and $60k of cap room over Klein, but I’m not passionate about trashing him.

    But now, what’s up with Ante Jazic? Is he injured, benched, what? He’s on the hook for $120k…

  4. Is it possible for the Galaxy to buy out the contracts of the players who suck, and then have salary cap to hire real players, or is that against the rules?

  5. To silent e:

    The USL 1/A-league isn’t that bad. Gordon is probably just the biggest flop to hit MLS from the league. I live in Seattle and have watched numerous players move from the Sounders to MLS (and Europe). Brian Ching was A-League MVP here, Maykel Galindo helped the Sounders win a championship, Craig Waibel is a solid defender in MLS, Ian Russell had a decent career during the glory days of San Jose. The sounders also produced some good goalkeepers: Marcus Hahnemann, Preston Burpo and even Dusty Hudock had a decent career. That’s just one team from the league, so don’t make Alan Gordon the poster boy for USL 1. I agree with everyone else here that the guy sucks. The first thing I did on FIFA 08 was put that guy up for sale.

    The Galaxy need to do something, but who’s going to want Vanney, Ruiz, Vagenas and Klein? I’m glad I’m not Lalas. Maybe he should go back to recording music.

  6. I disagree on Klein. He continues to bring a lot to the right side. Yes he’s slow, but he positions himself well. Having said that, his crosses suck about 40% of the time.

    The others I’m leaning your way on…

  7. People like to point their fingers at the Galaxy’s “big three,” but here is the real dead weight on the team:

    Chris Klein – $190,000

    Abel Xavier – $156,000

    Edson Buddle – $147,000

    Pete Vagenas – $137,813

    Greg Vanney – $91,800

    That’s $722,613 of old and slow.

    Frankly, these 5 are MLS-quality substitutes at best.

  8. Thanks for all the compliments on the writing. You can see from all the other correspondents that they are setting high standards (because ya’ll and Ives demand it) and I’m just trying to keep up.

    Just a few comments: Gordon starts ahead of Buddle because Buddle’s 90 minute game is atrocious. Gordon’s is only bad. Buddle had a great 2003, but still hasn’t recovered from that hip pointer.

    Salary cap hamstringing: ya’ll are all right on target with the waste the G’s have plus the list of current MLS starters who were once with the team but now provide steady minutes elsewhere.

    My takeaways from the recent statements of Lalas to season ticket holders is that Paul Bravo is now the moving force behind player acquisitions and he played a big role in getting Ruiz to come back. So while I’m not the biggest fan of Lalas, Bravo’s job is on the line as well.

  9. Everyone’s comments about roster issues are pretty much spot on. What I fail to understand is that the Galaxy have failed to make a single good–hell, not even a single decent–trade since Lalas took over. Why does AEG not fire him? Do he and Anschutz go to the same church or something? I agree that the guy is entertaining… so put him in the broadcast booth.

    And Gordon…. I was a Galaxy season ticket holder from 2000-2006 (I only stopped because I moved to Houston and yes, I am a Dynamo season ticket holder). I remember the excitement of seeing that the Galaxy, who have *always* needed help offensively, had signed the then A-League’s leading scorer. He hasn’t done diddly since then, which leaves me with a couple questions:

    1. How bad was the A-league/is the USL-1? They like to claim they are just as good as MLS; I know that’s not true but I always assumed they weren’t that much worse. But in 2004 Gordon scored 17 goals in 2150 mins with Portland. Since then Gordon has scored 7 goals in more than 2400 minutes with the Galaxy.

    2. How good is Gordon in practice? He must be burning holes in the nets with all his goals during practice to cause the coaches to want to keep trying to use him.

  10. Why is Gordon starting? Because everyone behind him is worse. Buddle is like Eddie Johnson without the talent. Or the speed.

    As a team we lack the fundamental ability to support our front line on the counter attack. We hoof the ball to Gordon and get mad when there is no one around for him to give it to and he loses it.

    The second goal on Sunday was Cronin’s fault all the way. I was literally right behind him in the stands and he wanted only one man in the wall. Against a guy like Robert, who is known to have a good free kick. And let me tell you, that ball was 6 to the right of the wall. You have 2 guys there, it gets stopped.

  11. Let get some of the young player into the mix Vanney is not playing well give “scarface” Valentin a shot at least you know he won’t just fall over when hit!!!

  12. Good write up.

    Unfortunately I enjoyed the article much more than I enjoyed watching the Gals.

    Alan Gordon has the first touch of a brick.

  13. nice post – cheers.

    Valentin for the parking Van-ney

    Tudela instead of Pires

    Buddle/Jordan in place of Gordon (until Ruiz is back).


    make capspace by getting rid of some of these guys:

    Vagenas, Jazic, Vanney, Xavier, Pires, Buddle, Roberts

  14. Eric,

    Good point about the rest of the deadwood. I’ll never understand how Gordon in particular is still in MLS.

    I wasn’t knocking Beckham and Ruiz. I’m just saying everytime you sign a top player you are not just getting an extra guy. You have to give up three mid-range salaries. Unfortunately for the Galaxy (I don’t really care as I’m not a fan), they chose to give the up the wrong ones.

    For the price of the five deadwood you mentioned, they could still have the majority of the useful players they gave up Cannon, Thomas, Marshall, Albright, Nakamura and Saragosa.

    Terrible decision making though I didn’t expect Vanney and Xavier to be so obviously weak.

    I do agree that Franklin looks like a keeper and I still believe that Mike Randolf will be too though he looked terrible at times. The Galaxy has talent, just not enough for the long haul.

    Maybe they will sneak into the playoffs. Maybe not. If they get in, then they have a chance of getting hot at the right moment.

  15. Nicely written piece.

    Hmmmm Salary cap space is the Gals’ problem. For right now in 2008 in the MLS you can’t go out their and pull out the wallet and buy an MLS cup…You have to spread the money around!! I just think that LA have put all their eggs into one basket….Now if those eggs start hatching then i’ll eat my words, but i just can’t see that happening, because you have so many terrible players on that team!!

  16. MattM – I totally disagree that Beckham and Ruiz are the problem with the Gals, what kills them with the salary cap is the $620k they’ve spent on Gordon, Buddle, Vegenas, Vanney, and Xavier.

    They left themselves in the position to live and die by the production of the guys making $75k – $150k, and instead of 5 quality starters they got a steaming pile of dung. Forwards who make about the same as Alan Gordon ($75k): Fabian Espindola, Chad Barrett, Maykel Galindo, Robbie Rogers, Kenny Cooper, etc. BTW, Cooper’s the only guy I named who makes more than Gordon.

    Also, Franklin is their first actual prospect since they traded Nathan Sturgis and Findley. Part of winning in MLS is the luck/foresight to have a Stuart Holden at $33k or Nyassi at $18k on your roster.

    That’s why I’m dying to see Lalas out of there and not waste Beckham’s last few years and Donovan’s best. There isn’t room for a lot of error, but a good GM could build a great team.

  17. Well written piece indeed, thanks for not referring to the team as the “Gals”.

    When asked about Cronin at the season seat meeting, Lalas said “The starting position is his job to lose” I think he did just that on Sunday, “Butterfingers” Cronin it was nice knowing ya.

    Four years of Gordon “trying” hard has left me with only one thought – If any of us reading this had been trying at our jobs for 4 years but didn’t actually produce we’d probably be fired a long time ago.

    Pete Vagenas – From Cienfuegos’ retirement in 2003, you’ve had plenty of time to learn how not to have the game go in slow motion when you have possession and pass the ball forward. Time to hang up the boots, feel free and take Vanney with you.

  18. This was the first pro soccer match that I have attended since I saw pele’s farewell tour sometime in the 70’s. My thoughts: HDC is a great facility. From what I could tell, every seat is a good seat, for fifty bucks I was a few rows from the grass.

    The atmosphere was a bit lacking, many times I was the only person standing in my area during exciting portions of the game. Then again it was blazing hot, and it was not a significant match.

    Donovan was extremely dangerous. I think it was just an unlucky fluke he wasn’t finishing. Beckham does not have magical powers. This is dissapointing. With our crappy Defense this team needs magical powers. Nonetheless Beckham is very talented and fun to watch.

    Cronin blows. I never understood trading Cannon and never will.

    Finally, falling on the ground is not a sound defensive strategy, nor is it sexy football.

    Overall, it was a good time, and I’ll return.

  19. Spencer, I’ve been saying the same thing.

    For Ruiz and Beckham’s salary cap space, the galaxy could have Cannon, Albright, Marshall, Ihemalu, Shavar Thomas, Nagamura and Saragosa back.

    I think they may have worked through the little defensive problems that LA is having.

    When you start a season with rookies or unprovan players like Cronin, Mcdonald, Allen, Alvero and Gordon in starting positions, you aren’t a playoff team.

  20. Agreed, good piece.

    After how bad Gordon has been, how does Buddle not make get more time? Did they give Gordon a longer run because of his (alleged) work rate, hoping he’d figure it out?

    Also, I’d be interested for you to keep tabs especially on Alvaro Pires, I’m trying to reserve judgment on if he’s a player who has an understated influence on the game or if he’s just not doing much.

  21. LA does need to drop Ruiz. I mean look at what NE is paying Nyassi. LA will have 200k a piece for 2 players if they get rid of Ruiz. They can get a good center mid and a forward if they like.

  22. Nicely written piece. I enjoyed it more than the game itself. From a third-party perspective (not a LAG or TFC fan) it wasn’t very entertaining. Yeah, there were goals… yeah, Beckham and Donovan can be flash (and EXTREMELY dangerous – they are going to toast some defenses this year)… but overall I kind of wish I would’ve gone outside with my kids. Not that an LA fan would care, but I was hoping to see something from Laurent Robert. Instead – nothing substantial.

  23. I know LA needs depth up front. But if Donavon and Beck Spiceman can keep linking up even against quality teams. I would get rid of Ruiz, eventhough I’m a big fan of his, and pick up 2 good defenders.

  24. If we whould have given Ty Harden some of the cash we spent (wasted) on Xavier and Vanney, maybe he wouldn’t be handing receipts to people looking for tax write offs. BTW, isn’t the trade deadline tomorrow? Why don’t we cut the dead weight and find someone that can still play?

  25. I have to agree with Geoff. A simple case of ‘take your chances’. Being a TFC fan, I am impressed with your review. A game of two halves really – one was dominated by you, the other we had a hold of the game.

  26. That was a well written piece.

    From a Toronto supporter’s perspective, i thought your analysis of the game was spot on. You guys passed the ball around superbly in the first half. We could barely get a touch for the first half hour. I was also impressed with Sean Franklin. If landycakes could have potted another one or two early, it could have EASILY been 3 points for the galaxy.


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