As Bruce Arena sat in Home Depot Center last Thursday, he watched a Los Angeles Galaxy team show some skill, promise and even a little bit of heart in fighting back to tie Chivas USA late. Perhaps that display was enough to convince Arena that the LA job was one worth taking and the Galaxy a team capable of being salvaged.
Similar questions are surfacing about Chivas USA, which has found life difficult in the post-Guzan era. Not that it has been the goalkeeping that has led to the Goats’ struggles, but not having Sacha Kljestan around and having injured forwards have left the Goats looking like a team that will be missing the playoffs this year.
SBI correspondents Nathan Henderson-James and John Sandate took in the action at Home Depot Center and gave us their tames on the match:
Gordon helps the Galaxy win a trophy
By NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES
Ostensibly the deciding game of the Honda SuperClasico between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, this was really a performance that was emblematic of the entire Galaxy season. The offense looked dangerous for long stretches, the midfield came and went, and the defense couldn’t come through when it really counted. Facing an injury and call-up-riddled Chivas USA with limited attacking options, this should have been three points for the G’s, but it was only through grit and determination and lots of heart that they salvaged a point on a brilliant header by Alan Gordon two minutes into stoppage time.
For the entire season I’ve been on Gordon’s jock, but last night he stuffed my words in my face and made me choke them down. Okay maybe not so dramatic as all that. After all there are still 10 games to go and his header only brought a tie, not a win. And he still has a first touch like a chainsaw. But the header was brilliant, off a long-range cross from Ante Jazic, and left Zach Thornton with no chance. (And it is really strange seeing Thornton in goal for Chivas.)
The Galaxy really started the game well, with Landon Donovan putting a hard low shot home to the far post off of a magnificent ball from Chris Klein. The right side combo has been great all season and came through again.
Not so on the left, where Ely Allen looked like a 5 year old at Mall of America realizing he hasn’t seen his mom for the past 20 minutes. He is constantly out of position, crowds the ball, never making dangerous runs, or smart runs, or diagonal runs, or runs into space. Randolph’s 8 minutes on the field were much better and he came the crossbar short of winning the game. He still suffers from an inability to make a cross without hitting the defender, but his positioning is much better and his runs are occasionally dangerous. But if this Eddie Lewis thing is real, then that plugs a huge gaping hole that has been around for at least the past three seasons.
Oh, right, speaking of rumors, the ESPN 2 guys couldn’t get enough of Bruce Arena having dinner with Tim Leiweke (did you know it was pronounced LIE-WICKY? Now things make much more sense.). Actually, for an ownership mouthpiece I was impressed with his answers to the questions from John Harkes and Rob Stone. Maybe that was because he agreed with me that the whole downhill slide started with the death of Doug Hamilton, but after the opening platitudes he was straightforward, which is refreshing to hear from a white man in a suit.
But back to the game. If the entire game was emblematic of the whole season, then the two Chivas goals were the season in microcosm. Too much space given to the other team, defenders not tight on their marks, and the keeper left out to dry. Promising offense betrayed in the back and the team limps off the field. Because the Galaxy could have easily won this game with the chances they created. Fault the offense for not going for the jugular in the first half when they had Chivas on their heels, but in the end the defense just can’t make it happen.
Let me defend Steve Cronin for a minute. Yes he’s let in more goals than anyone else in MLS this season. But he’s also near tops in shots faced and saves made. So you have to see his 42 goals allowed within that context.
At the end of the day, the Galaxy walked off with a point and the SuperClasico trophy, showed the heart and grit they’ve had all season, but it felt disappointing. Just like this season.
Blown lead makes tie feel like loss for Chivas USA
By JOHN SANDATE
I often wonder if this season is already over for Chivas USA. Not to be a skeptic but when you look at all the injuries, the lack of experience of the young players, and some questionable substitutions from Preki, even a Stevie wonder can see that time is running out for this team. Last night, Galaxy robbed Chivas USA of 2 points with an Alan Gordon header in stoppage time to draw 2-2. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story of the game.
Galaxy came in loose and firing on all cylinders in the first half. Goats USA looked shell shocked by the energy and pace that Team Beckham was willing to imposing. After going 1-0 into the second half, LA’s no. 1 pub team withered and faltered, thus they lost the lead. All looked pretty good for the goats going into stoppage time, but then it happened. The clock struck 12 o’ clock: Jim Curtin (all 6’4″ of him) failed to mark Goat killer Gordon on a set piece and BANG! It was all over.
Honestly, it’s almost impossible to ignore the potential of what could have been a great season for Chivas USA. At this point, one point is one point, but against the Galaxy, it might as well be no points. There are no moral victories for Chivas USA fans, this team is hurt and many fans (not including myself) are starting to lose hope. There are no reinforcements on the way, there are signs of a new stadium on the horizon, and there is no word on Jorge Flores missing persons file. Fan favorites are not always the best players on the team, but with M*A*S*H* unit for a roster, Chivas USA needs all the help it can get. Like I said, I’m not losing hope, but…………..time is running out.
GAME NOTES: Zack Thorton has decent skills for 350lb. man. It was nice to see Preki on the sidelines again, but why was he talking to himself on the way to the locker room at halftime? Roberto Nurse has nice looking braids, that’e the most positive thing I can say about him. Alvaro Pires should fight Jesse Marsch in the UFC octogan. My money is on the Marsch. Who can forget the dropkick on Beckham last year? I miss Alex Zotinca, that butt head. Atiba Harris made a guest appearance in the game and made defenders looked foolish. Does Carey Talley have a mullet? Carlos Ruiz as trade bait? Good luck with that. The Union Ultras (the Official Chivas USA supporters) unveiled their new banner with players and Preki on it. Well done. It did have Jorge Flores’ image on it, so he was there at least in spirit. Carlos Ruiz as trade bait? Good luck with that. Maybe Thorton should try professional wrestling.