The Los Angeles Galaxy’s transformation from butt of all MLS jokes to leaders of the Western Conference has been nothing short of impressive while Edson Buddle’s progress from wayward MLS striker to hat-trick machine is almost as jaw-dropping.
The Galaxy thrashed the San Jose Earthquakes, 3-0, with Buddle netting all three goals. The victory was thorough and made even more impressive by the fact that Landon Donovan wasn’t even in uniform to face his former team.
SBI correspondents Nathan Henderson-James and Kevin Matthiessen took in the match and share their takes on it with us:
Buddle spearheads Galaxy’s potent attack
By NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES
I have to admit that I didn’t expect too much out of the Los Angeles Galaxy in their trip to the Bay Area. Road trips for this team are hit or miss affairs, with an ugly tie in Salt Lake, an ugly loss in Toronto, and a pasting in Commerce City interspersed with the demolition of FC Dallas. And while the San Jose Earthquakes are still waiting for their offense to show up, they are tough on defense. So I wasn’t sure what was going to happen on Saturday night.
Edson Buddle happened, that’s what. Buddle has played in nine of the G’s 13 games this season and has eight goals, which is second in the league after Saturday’s hat trick (his second of the season). What was remarkable was that he accomplished this without Landon Donovan or Carlos Ruiz in the lineup, leaving David Beckham to carry all the offensive duties. Except Becks only contributed one assist from his favored right side of the field. The others came from the left, where Ante Jazic and Mike Randolph teamed up to create the first credible offensive threat from that side the Galaxy has had since… since… (Josh Gardner, no; Pando Ramirez, no;) well, I’ll let long-term Galaxy-watchers figure that one out.
But back to Buddle. When he came over from Toronto last year I was unimpressed. I felt his first touch was hard, he lost possession pretty consistently and he was offsides a lot. In any event he ended up, like the rest of the team, spending most of the season NOT playing in games due to injury.
This year he looks like a different person. Maybe hiring Ruud Gullit really was an inspired move by the Mouth Of The South(land) (everyone’s favorite red-haired quote-machine Alexi Lalas) because not only does Buddle have more goals this year than he’s had since about 2002, but the Galaxy defense is looking better and better.
Now, I’m saying all this after beating the Quakes, who account for both of LA’s shutouts and showed an attack on Saturday so anemic that Evonne Goolagong showed up to pass out Geritol tablets to everyone on the home team (folks born after the 70’s will need to google that reference). So maybe the Quakes aren’t a good enough standard against which to judge progress. Fair enough. Still, I’m starting to salivate at the thought of a potent left-side attack to go with Buddle and Ruiz up top, Landon playing a withdrawn role, Becks patrolling the right and Chris Klein bombing up from his right back position.
I’m still worried about the ball handling and distribution skills of guys like Alvaro Pires, Joey Franchino, Josh Tudela, and Pete Vagenas, but let’s say Tim Lieweke does manage to get MLS HQ to screw the rest of the league and "allow" the G’s to pick up a couple of skilled midfielders come July. Umm, wow. The Galaxy really could become the team to beat down the stretch: 28 goals already this season, the only winning record in the West, 11 out of 13 games with at least two goals, and supposedly some reinforcements on the way.
I’m still recovering from Galaxy Battered Fan Syndrome so I’m wary of getting too excited, but against the advice of my therapist I’m getting excited to see next Saturday’s showdown against a Columbus team that is recovering its scoring touch. Because I’ll be at my brother’s wedding I’ll be schnoggered enough to feel no pain whatever the result. But it’ll be better if they send Columbus home with a Crew Cut.
Bad loss caps a forgettable day for San Jose
By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN
The San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Galaxy game was definitely the worst game I’ve ever seen live. It is also among the shortlist of worst games ever seen live or on TV.
The only solace to the night was the fun we had before the game tailgating. Because there is no tailgating allowed at the ‘Quakes normal home venue, Buck Shaw Stadium, we were sure to make the best of it being as though this game was being played at McAfee Coliseum.
Though I had seen one game before this one at the colossal baseball stadium, I hadn’t yet fully realized just how terrible this stadium is for soccer and otherwise.
There are so few entrances to the stadium that while we gave ourselves about 15 minutes to go about 100 yards to get to the entrance and another 25 to the seats, we still ended up settling into our seats at the 10th minute. And the ‘Quakes were already a goal down. Ouch.
Then there’s the bathrooms. The scarcity of these were responsible for me missing the first five or so minutes of the second half. I had to walk from about the half way line all the way to behind the west side goal. Then get in line…
I could go on and on about how much McAfee Coliseum sucks, but I wouldn’t have enough room to talk about all the other things that sucked about the game. The ineptitude of the expansion Earthquakes and the shear numbers of Galaxy/Beckham fans equally added to the misfortune of being so far from the pitch at the hard ball centric structure.
I haven’t a chance to look at the numbers nor replay the game (think DVR, delete) so all my observations are strictly perceptual. That said, here’s my take on the game play. The Quakes allowed the Galaxy plenty of space all over the field. And we all know what happens when you give David Beckham time to swing one in. They also gave Edson Buddle space to score three times in about as many shots.
The Earthquakes failed to take shots on goal and barely tested the inexperienced Steve Cronin. They sent in many crosses but like ripe cherries hanging from low lying branches, they were all easily picked by a waiting and well positioned Cronin. At one point I yelled, "Shoot the damn ball at the goal!" but because of all the screaming girls and distance from the pitch, my cries fell upon no ears except for maybe the poor folks directly in front of me.
What irritated me most on the night wasn’t in fact the spanking by our most hated rivals, it wasn’t the crummy stadium, nor was it all the screaming girls. What irritated me most was the appearance of so many so-called soccer fans, in the form of adult men, coming out to a professional bay area soccer game for the first time, wearing their Beckham jerseys and rooting for the Galaxy.
I don’t care who’s on the other side of the pitch, you gotta root for the home team and support your local pro team and your local soccer scene in general. As for me, that’s going to continue throughout the season except for the next time the Galaxy visits. Anyone need two tickets?