When the Red Bulls showed up at Home Depot Center without Claudio Reyna and Seth Stammler, they looked destined to be dominated by the Los Angeles Galaxy. What LA didn’t realize is that this is just what Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio had in mind.
The Red Bulls were content to led the Galaxy’s lesser players knock the ball around while they focused on containing the two LA players who could truly do something on offense, David Beckham and Alan Gordon. Confident that they could find goals against the Galaxy’s porous defense, the Red Bulls defended well and succeeding in shutting down Donovan and Beckham. The result was an ugly encounter, but a 2-1 win courtesy of Juan Pablo Angel’s first goal of the season.
SBI Correspondents Andrew Keh and Nathan Henderson-James took in the contest and give us their takes on the game:
Tom Cruise watches his Galaxy smothered by the Red Bulls
By ANDREW KEH
Cruise. Beckham. Van Den Bergh.
On Saturday night, some of the biggest, sexiest names in the world of sport and celebrity descended upon the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, where the brave Red Bulls emerged victorious in a thrilling battle against the LA Galaxy.
The contest, as it happened, was the Red Bulls’ first ever match in the presence of a Level OT-VII Scientologist and Freedom Medal of Valor winner. One must credit New York, then, for holding their nerve in such esteemed company, and bless the mischievous Lord Xenu for once again foiling the devilish plans of Tom Cruise.
But Xenu, in truth, does not deserve all of the credit for the victory.
The Red Bulls started a makeshift midfield that was missing Seth Stammler and Claudio Reyna, but they coped admirably, receiving a good goal from Danleigh Borman and a spectacular one from Juan Pablo Angel, while smothering the Galaxy’s much-heralded attack.
David Beckham, meanwhile, must have felt like he was back on the Isles of Scilly, the tiny British islands that serve as the site for one of Adidas’ new “Dream Big” advertisements, in which various top stars travel to a remote locale in the hopes of inspiring its natives toward soccer glory.
In one precious scene, Beckham creates a finishing exercise for the youth team he’s been commissioned to train. “I’m gonna be in the corner and knock the balls in,” Beckham explains to the scraggy group of kids, while flashing his trademark wry smile. “Just try and finish the ball with a header, volley, whatever you want.”
The kids lovably flail about and bungle each of the Englishman’s perfectly served crosses, and everyone has a good laugh about it. But Beckham—besides a sheepish grin after hammering the back of Kevin Goldthwaite’s head with the ball—wasn’t smiling much on Saturday night, as it was his own teammates childishly flailing about.
Further raining on Beckham and Landon Donovan’s recent feel-good parade were Goldthwaite and Jeff Parke, who both enjoyed superb performances in the air and ground, and Jon Conway, who did not miss a step dealing with the barrage of whipped-in crosses and made one very important save against Mike Randolph in the 84th minute.
Raining on my parade was Borman, who made me believe he was going to do a back-flip after scoring his 21st minute goal, but instead did an awkward roll, followed by an even more awkward version of Cuauhtémoc Blanco’s Aztec salute. It was a mess, and I was devastated.
Angel’s non-celebration, meanwhile, was a bit better—even somewhat reminiscent of Eric Cantona, who famously stood still in awe of his own greatness after an amazing run and chip-shot goal. And it was definitely an upgrade from the Colombian’s favored midair karate-chop, which always seems to come too soon in his post-goal, celebratory run. But I maintain that I haven’t seen a good Red Bull/Metrostar goal celebration since Clint Mathis did the worm.
Besides that, though, it was a good night all around.
And capping it all off was some very exciting news at halftime from the always-reliable John T. Amorosa, construction project manager at Red Bull Park: the installation of underground plumbing at the new stadium starts next week!
Lord Xenu must truly look upon us favorably.
Nothing sexy about Galaxy’s loss to Red Bulls
By NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES
Sexy futbol it wasn’t.
This game was, in contrast to the recent games against Houston and Real Salt Lake, dull and spiritless. Just after I get done praising the team for their grit and teamwork, I get this piece of old laundry thrown at me. To be fair, on any given night in MLS you are prone to see the kind of thing New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles put on display. The salary cap, roster limitations, and weather conditions just don’t allow for any team to put together 30 games of quality futbol. And this one was far from quality.
Obviously, the Ghosts of 2007 have yet to be banished from the Home Depot Center. The backline was shaky and the midfield’s lack of a talented ball-distributor was obvious throughout the game. While the team didn’t quit, exactly, they had no real answer when NYRB shut down Landon Donovan and David Beckham and with them, the G’s entire offensive threat. The only real take-away I had from that game, besides a mouthful of bitter frustration, was that Carlos Ruiz cannot get healthy fast enough.
Well, okay, here’s another take-away: If Mike Randolph ever learns to cross the ball, the G’s will have themselves an answer. He was my bright spot for the game. He made dangerous runs, got into good positions and, refreshingly, was willing to run at defenders. Yes, he was dispossessed with regularity, but he also served in several good balls and set up Alan Gordon (!) for the lone Galaxy goal.
Oh Alan Gordon, what does a fan say about you? You spend 75 minutes committing four horrible plays for every one that doesn’t suck, including two moments where you try to employ your "skillful" footwork to thread defenses only to have them (predictably) stone you. Then you take Randolph’s cross, settle it with your back to the goal, turn, and put it in the netting at the far post. This gives you as many goals as Becks for the season. I’m not sold yet, but your persistence is becoming endearing.
The thing a loss like this does for the Galaxy is bring into sharp reality all the weaknesses that exist. There is no true holding midfielder to complement the disruptors. The offense is basically two (very very very talented) guys. And the defense… Sean Franklin and Troy Roberts struggled to contain Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore and they forced Franklin into his first average-to-poor showing. Troy Roberts showed nothing. Can I really be saying that I want Xavier back? Yes, I want his futbol brain and veteran wiles back on the field. And Steve Cronin! Loved your reflex saves. Hated your positioning and ability to read the developing play.
The worst part about this loss was that NYRB fielded a make-shift lineup. If Claudio Reyna and Seth Stammler had been on the field, I don’t think the G’s would have had any midfield possession to speak of; I don’t know how many goals would have rained down.
Next week the team has to play in the midday Frisco heat against a team that has the tools to control the midfield. After this disappointingly lackluster showing, I’m feeling very 2007 about the Galaxy’s chances. So surprise me, guys, and put together a real team effort that brings home some points from Texas. And maybe make some calls to San Francisco to see if the BALCO folks have anything that can help El Pescadito’s knee.