Who’s afraid of the big, bad Galaxy?
Despite the fact that most of MLSsoccer.com’s editors have picked this match to either draw or go in favor of the LA Galaxy, I’m not that worried. It’s true the Galaxy have a tremendous defence, led by Omar Gonzalez. It’s true that Landon Donovan — when international appearances are considered — is having a fantastic year since his brief hiatus. And Robbie Keane…is Robbie Keane. They got the names, and those names do actually mean something.
My problem — and I think the Galaxy’s problem — is the same problem that the Chicago Fire have found themselves in this year since acquiring Mike Magee from the Galaxy earlier this season, which is putting all of their eggs in one basket. Let’s forget about the Galaxy for a minute and talk about the Fire, a team we haven’t met since early this season and aren’t likely to see again this year. Mike Magee, for sure, is having a fantastic year. He was having a fantastic year before he was traded and he just kept the momentum going after he moved back to his hometown. But if Mike Magee has an off-day, or for one reason or another isn’t able to convert his chances, odds are, the Fire lose. Without MIke Magee, they go back to what they were at the beginning of the season which is marginally better than Toronto FC.
This season, the Galaxy have shown themselves to be in a similar boat. To be sure, they aren’t the only team in the MLS — the Sounders — especially after signing Dempsey — are absolutely one of these teams as well. As are the Red Bulls. If any of the Galaxy’s key players aren’t able to convert, have a bad day, whatever, they aren’t the big bad that their reputation makes them out to be. And yes, arguably their poor performance this season has a lot to do with international absences, and they’ll be playing with a full squad in this meeting against RSL. But still, when you put all your eggs in one basket, it makes it easier to anticipate, easier to defend against — you know you just need to knock out those guys and you should be okay.
The other reason I’m not that concerned is historically RSL has performed well in the Center-formerly-known-as-Home-Depot, and they are coming off of five straight wins at the now-Stubhub Center. There are a lot of factors involved, of course, and I like to say that stats don’t lie, they just don’t tell the whole truth, but still, it’s pretty impressive, and makes Los Angeles — for whatever reason — much less of a “fortress” as some other places they’ve played.
Defending will be key
All that said, RSL will need to be on their toes defensively. Gyasi Zardes, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are definitely not guys you want to ignore. RSL will need to eliminate their chances and keep them from seeing the back of the net. That may be assisted by the combination of Beltran, Borchers, Salcedo and Wingert — a back four who has yet to lose a match this season.
I expect the usual 4-4-2 diamond for this match mostly because it’s fared well against the Galaxy and, with any luck, we’ll see Olmes Garcia up top, who notched two goals against the Galaxy in their last meeting. Unless things go incredibly awry, I suspect this match to have a different result than the majority of those MLSsoccer.com editors.
Possible starting 11: Rimando; Wingert, Borchers, Salcedo, Beltran; Gil, Beckerman, Grabavoy, Morales; Garcia, Saborio