Tuesday’s Column: Four fixes to improve the Galaxy

i-5926fc32c44419a7933f431a6736a6dc-landonmiss0000.jpgMissed opportunity: The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan reacts to missing a shot during Sunday’s Western Conference final loss to Dallas at Home Depot Center. (Daily Breeze staff photo).

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena has some work to do in the off-season after his team’s season-ending playoff loss last weekend.

Here are four things he needs to accomplish to make the Galaxy shine next season.

Agree? Disagree? Has the time come to abandon the Beckham experiment?

Chime in with your comments below.

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Chile comes to Carson

For the annual January game at Home Depot Center in conjunction with Coach Bob Bradley’s first and always experimental USMNT camp of the year.

Tickets to the Jan. 22 game against the World Cup round of 16 losers to Brazil go on sale Friday starting at $18.

Bradley’s penetrating analysis:

“We’re excited to play a team of Chile’s caliber to start the year. We are focused on getting ready for the CONCACAF Gold Cup next summer, and this game provides a good start for our preparations as we assess the pool for 2011 and beyond.”

But then we’ve heard that (almost literally) before.

The U.S. is 8-1-1 in Carson. Bradley & co., lost to Honduras 3-1 this year in Carson.

The other results in Carson (the average attendance is 15,185, according to U.S. Soccer):

3-2 in 2009 against Sweden
8-0 in 2008 against Barbados (WCQ)
2-0 in 2008 against Sweden
2-0 in 2007 against Trinidad & Tobago (Gold Cup)
1-0 in 2007 against Guatemala (Gold Cup)
3-1 in 2007 against Denmark
5-0 in 2006 against Norway
1-1 in 2004 against Denmark

*Also, Chivas USA defender Michael Umaa has joined Costa Rica for its friendly Wednesday against Jamaica in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

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UCLA seeded eighth in NCAA Tournament

The draw was made today.

The Bruins (14-4-1), who finished one point behind champion Cal in the Pac-10, will meet the winner of Thursday’s game between MPSF champion Sacramento State (10-4-7) and West Coast Conference champion Santa Clara (10-5-5) in the first round on Thursday. It’s UCLA’s 28th consecutive post-season appearance.

The second round game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday at Drake Stadium.

Tickets are $10 adults, $8 students/youth.

The winner of the second round game advances to a Nov. 28 game against Notre Dame, Dartmouth or Monmouth.

The other Southern California representative in the tournament, UC Santa Barbara (13-4-3), hosts Denver (9-6-4) Thursday and is expected to draw another large crowd.

The winner meets No. 6 Cal.

UCSB also hosts the final four this year.

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College scoreboard: LMU wins share of first-ever WCC title & more

Even though they lost 1-0 to San Francisco Sunday at Sullivan Field.

From the LMU press release: The Loyola Marymount men (12-6-2, 8-3-1 WCC) conclude the season tied with Santa Clara atop the WCC standing on 25 points and will await their postseason fate with Monday’s announcement of the NCAA College Cup field live on ESPNU at 1:30 p.m. Santa Clara earns the conference’s automatic bid by virtue of 2-0 win over Gonzaga and a 1-0-1 season record against the Lions.


*USC (13-6-3) lost 4-0 to Notre Dame Sunday and were bounced from the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

*The UCLA women (13-7-2) upset Central Florida 2-1 Saturday at Drake Stadium, Elise Britt and Sydney Leroux doing the damage. They will next meet Stanford, 2-1 winners Sunday over Santa Clara, this weekend.

Notable: The Bruins have now advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 for the 12th straight season.

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Western Conference final postgame: FC Dallas at Galaxy

Galaxy 0 FC Dallas 3

i-0acffd57fcfbb563eb7dda9768223b80-dallaswchamps.jpgFC Dallas: Western Conference champions (AP Photos).

From the Galaxy’s point of view, the first quote in the game story from Coach Bruce Arena sums up the night:

“We have no excuses. We were outplayed. We were certainly in position in the first half to get a lead and maybe take control and failed on that. … We were outplayed, we were beat on most matchups on the field and we were outcoached. Dallas deserved the victory.”

Game story.

Indeed, all the Galaxy’s deficiencies were surgically exposed by Dallas: a plodding defense, unimaginative midfield and predictable offense.

This was an opponent that managed to bring out the worst characteristics of individual Galaxy players.

Was this Omar Gonzalez’ worst game in a Galaxy jersey with his somnolent defensive awareness? Sean Franklin once again confirmed he is not a full back by habitually being caught out of position. A.J. DeLaGarza looked small and exposed.

Dema Kovalenko mistook mindless hacking for calculated midfield bite. David Beckham (not even close to being 100 percent, to be fair, said Arena) was ordinary. Landon Donovan was a non entity after moving up front from his deep lying midfield position.

Edson Buddle looked isolated and out-matched.

Or was former Chivas USA man Atiba Harris – who Dallas Coach Schellas Hyndman said he believed would match up better physically with Gonzalez than veteran Jeff Cunningham – that good?

i-b9a99efce6fb5507ae0186e6ca92af7a-hartmansavestheday.jpgHot hands: Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman saved the day on several occasions.


“Kevin Hartman has been unbelievable,” said FC Dallas Coach Schellas Hyndman. “What you saw tonight was tremendous saves, one after another, especially in the first half when LA was really putting the heat on us. … He could very well be the man of the match.”

Kevin Hartman vanished after the game, incidentally, which is why you don’t see any quotes from him.

A photo gallery of game images is here

Notable: This was the Galaxy’s first home postseason loss since 1998. The Galaxy had also not lost a game this emphatically – by three goals, while scoring none – all season.

It was all the more disappointing because this was as loud a capacity Galaxy crowd of 27,000 as I can remember at the HDC and they deserved more.


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Western Conference final: FC Dallas at Galaxy at Home Depot Center

The final game of the season for the Galaxy in Southern California.

We’ll find out in 90 minutes (or so) whether this is the last game of the season period or if MLS Cup is in the Galaxy’s future.

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena will field an unchanged starting lineup for the third consecutive game meaning veteran Eddie “playoffs only” Lewis starts on the back four again.

Galaxy XI: Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Eddie Lewis, David Beckham, Juninho, Dema Kovalenko, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Mike Magee.

Options off the bench include Gregg Berhalter, Alex Cazumba, Todd Dunivant, Chris Birchall, Michael Stephens, Jovan Kirovski.

Dallas has just one major change – former Chivas USA man Atiba Harris is in for veteran Jeff Cunningham as the lone striker.

Dallas XI: Kevin Hartman, Jackson Goncalves, George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez, Dax McCarty, David Ferreira, Daniel Hernandez, Brek Shea, Atiba Harris.

Kick off is at 6:18 p.m.

The game is live on ESPN2.

I’ll blog throughout the game, the HDC’s weak wi fi signal willing.

Refresh this blog post for updates.

Now this sounds like a playoff crowd tonight.

Mike Magee clocked a 30-yard shot after eight minutes that gave Kevin Hartman a nasty moment or two and he needed a touch to steer it away from the goal.

Cunningham is not hurt tonight, we just heard; he was dropped.

Juninho just ran through a stationary Dallas defense, picking up a loose ball inside the opposing half and whacking it from about 20 yards at Bartman.

Beckham came close after 24 minutes, when a free kick he took near the center circle and weirdly almost bounced into the net catching everyone napping.

Galaxy 0 FC Dallas 1

Dallas have taken the lead against the run of play in the 26th minute, David Ferreira collecting the ball at the top of the box from Marvin Chavez and having the time turn and shoot home while Gonzalez and DeLaGarza were both rooted to the spot.

The Galaxy will have to come from behind for the second consecutive game to beat Dallas; they went behind in the 22nd minute in the last game against Dallas.

Donovan was just denied in the 31st minute, a stinging drive just tipped around the far post by Hartman. That was close.

Kovalenko, who picked up a yellow card in the 32nd minute, should have had another six minutes latter when he left his feet at midfield to chop down Ferreira in front of the Dallas bench. He’s lucky to be on the field at this point.

Halftime: Galaxy 0 FC Dallas 1

The Galaxy have had more of the sustained pressure, while Dallas has had the speedy counter attacks. No prizes for guessing which strategy has been most effective.

Juninho has looked dangerous going forward; Kovalenko looks like a liability.

Key stat: The Galaxy have had five shots on target, Dallas just one.

That’s all it takes though.

Is there just 45 minutes left in the Galaxy’s season?

Remember, they don’t need two goals in the next 45 minutes; just one would prolong things.

Galaxy 0 FC Dallas 2

In another lightning-fast move, John has put the visitors up by two goals in the 54th minute. He met a Shea cross at the far post that was intelligently pulled back behind the defenders.

Donovan, pushed up into the attack with the removal of Magee for Cazumba in the 55th minute, should have pulled one back moments later when he struck a Hartman clearance from 25 yards, but put the opportunity over the bar with the former Galaxy goalkeeper out of position.

Chris Birchall has replaced Kovalenko in the 66th minute.

Donavan is seeing less of the ball since he was moved up top; obviously, the Galaxy need him to have the ball at his feet more if they want to pry open this Dallas defense. Time is running out.

Gonzalez is having a poor game in defense; Buddle has looked lethargic up front.

Is there a way back for the Galaxy?

The Galaxy now have 19 minutes to score twice.

Galaxy 0 FC Dallas 3

This one is all but over in the 73rd minute. With Harris standing offside the Galaxy defense stopped moving. Unfortunately for them, Ferreira decided to thread the ball through to Chavez who was not offside and scored from inside the box.

The Galaxy have shown a repeated proclivity to ball watch tonight – and it has cost them dearly.

Fans are already heading for the exits – it’s the 79th minute.

Final: Galaxy 0 FC Dallas 3

It’s over – and so is the Galaxy’s season.

Hartman easily saved an uninspired Beckham free kick in stoppage time, which pretty much sums the predictable nature of this one for the Galaxy.

The Galaxy only have themselves to blame for this one.

A static back four (Gonzalez) that could not handle the speed and quick precision of the Dallas attack (Ferreira); a depleted attack (where was Tristan Bowen?) that was too predictable and squandered chances.

Dallas deserve to head to Toronto for their first-ever MLS Cup.

The Galaxy will have to reload for next season.

Ah well, think of the huge ratings for that Dallas-Colorado final MLS can expect.

Two cities that really love their MLS, huh?

Dallas Coach Schellas Hyndman has his now-famous brown leather jacket donned for his post-game interview.

More later.

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A few words with MLS Coach of the Year Schellas Hyndman

i-c1461217d6f9257d87a7f85c42452e6a-shyndman.jpgFC Dallas Coach Schellas Hyndman, left, has the same sort of collegiate pedigree that Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena (Virginia) also boasts. Hyndman coached SMU for about a quarter century and boasted an overall record there of 368-96-38 before joining Dallas in 2008.

Trivia: Hyndman and Arena faced each other just once in the college ranks, back in October 1987. The key to that game, according to Hyndman? John Harkes got a red card. SMU won.


“Last week I think (ESPN analyst Alexi) Lalas had picked every team (to win in the playoffs) wrong – every team he picked was wrong – and he still has a job. I’m sure he won’t be pulling for me.”

Here are some selected excerpts from a lengthy interview a gracious Hyndman gave for members of the media on Saturday before Dallas practiced at Home Depot Center ahead of today’s 5 p.m. Western Conference final against the Galaxy.

Question: On Sunday this year’s MLS Coach of the Year will face last year’s MLS Coach of the Year, Bruce Arena, and both of you rebuilt your respective rosters and revived the fortunes of your respective clubs to win it (Dax McCarty and Dario Sala are the only players who were on the Dallas roster when Hyndman took over to remain). How daunting of a task is it to accomplish something like that?
Answer: It’s really quite challenging.

For me the easiest thing for any coach to do is identify talent and get talent. One of the harder things to do is to manage that talent and to make sure you have good character. That’s what we’ve been able to do here. And I think you saw the same thing happening here with LA.

Q: How important a piece of your jigsaw puzzle was bringing in an enforcer like Daniel Hernandez to FC Dallas?
A: I brought him in to have the comfort zone of having someone I know and can trust. Ugo (Ihemelu) was the same way. They played for me at SMU and they are probably two of my many favorites that I had at SMU. When you have players that believe in what you do and they speak behind your back in a positive way, lead in the right direction, it makes every coach’s job easier.

Q: The Galaxy have been talking about the importance of stopping playmaker David Ferreira, who has more than a dozen assists on the year. Your take?
A: He’s been unbelievable. He’s never missed a minute of practice. I think he might have missed one minute of a game because I wanted to take him out and protect him. He’s probably the most-fouled player in the league and he’s a difference-maker.

David is probably the man who pulls the strings for FC Dallas. That is no secret.

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Sunday Western Conference final Galaxy gameday

FC Dallas at Galaxy at Home Depot Center (6 p.m. ESPN2)

i-bb54b3f76d267429614d150307501714-mlslogo0000.jpg*The winner meets the Colorado Rapids, 1-0 winners Saturday over the San Jose Earthquakes in the Eastern Conference final, next Sunday in Toronto.

*Phil Collin has the fast and furious game preview.

*FC Dallas, like most teams the Galaxy face, are motivated to make a point against the star power of LA.

*If you’re going to the game, the Galaxy are holding their annual equipment sale and there’s a free concert with The Briggs before the game. Details here.

*The Briggs play this year’s Galaxy anthem “This is LA” at 6 p.m. Listen here.

For more game coverage read:

*The 100 Percent Soccer interview with former Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who will face his old club today between the posts for FC Dallas, here.

*Saturday’s articles here.

*Landon Donovan’s year in review.

*Highlights from the Galaxy-Dallas teleconference earlier in the week are here.

*Tuesday’s column on the Galaxy’s road to redemption.

I’ll blog a few words from the perspective of FC Dallas Coach Schellas Hyndman, the MLS Coach of the Year, a little later.

Check back in tonight for updates from Home Depot Center.

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A few words with Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman

i-6b2d74f471984de409340274bfe4d846-kevinharmancrunch.jpgCrunch time for goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and FC Dallas against the Galaxy Sunday (AP Photo).

FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, 36, who played high school soccer in the South Bay and also played for Cal State Dominguez Hills and UCLA, played about 300 games for the Galaxy between 1997 and 2006 before moving onto the Kansas City Wizards and now Dallas.

He lost just one game this year between the posts for FC Dallas and had the best goals against average in the league.

I spoke to him before FC Dallas practiced Saturday morning at Home Depot Center, ahead of Sunday’s Western Conference final against the Galaxy.

Question: Does it feel weird coming back to the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills to play where you played so many times for the Galaxy, the Palos Verdes Peninsula where you played in high school visible to the south?

Answer: Not really. It’s probably the most important game I’ve played against the Galaxy since I left. It was funny because yesterday I was driving around and I’m forgetting where streets were. You know that Coffee Beans & Things on Hawthorne (Boulevard, near the Torrance Marriott, where the team is staying)? I was like where is this Coffee Beans – did they move it? And it was hidden over there behind that office building (the South Bay Tower, home of the Daily Breeze).

It’s good to get home and see family and friends. You can’t beat the weather – it’s a nice time of the year to be here.

Q: How do you regard the relationship you’ve had with Galaxy fans?
A: I always thought they treated me very fairly. I would always go out of my way to be decent to them and show them a level of respect. They’ve always been supportive of me – even after I left. This will be the game they will have the most difficulty in terms of supporting me.

Q: Did you thing you’d be a “lifer” with the Galaxy and do you still have a piece of the club inside you?
A: I was very content to play on one team as long as I did. To be on one team in professional sport for 10 years isn’t something that happens very often. You always take a bit of the culture (away with you) – something from your fans, something from your teammates.

Some of those things are never going to be the same. When I was playing here they were green and gold. Now its been re-branded. It’s obviously a bit different now. … There are still guys in the organization, people in the front office I keep in touch with. (Of his former teammates only Landon Donovan, Todd Dunivant and Jovan Kirovski are still with the club, he observed)

Q: After what happened in the close season with Kansas essentially rejecting you and the great season you’ve had with Dallas do you feel vindicated?
A: Not really. I think the biggest thing for me was trying to reward Schellas and FC Dallas for stepping up at an awkward time and really picking me up and giving me the opportunity to do something I really love doing.

I don’t really work that way. It’s nice to be able to work hard and have things pay off for you. But I try to keep all that negativity out of my system as much as I possibly can.

My numbers are obviously the best they’ve ever been – significantly. But whose to say with goalkeeping? … I feel it was a good year in terms of what I was able to get done and organizing the defense. The guys have been willing to work and listen to the information I’m trying to relate. Honestly, I would say it’s one of my better years, yeah.

Q: On Sunday we will have the best goalkeeper statistically in MLS facing off against arguably the best striker in MLS – Edson Buddle, who is having a career year. Have you been looking at a lot of tape of Mr. Buddle and what are his strengths?

A: He’s a pretty dynamic striker. It’s not something where he only comes at you from one angle. But you certainly pay attention to the types of things that he does or where he feels most comfortable – just make sure we keep an eye on him.

It remains to be seen what type of service he is going to get.

He does a pretty good job of sitting in spaces where it is difficult for defenders to find him. He makes good solid runs and maybe catches guys off guard. It’s as much my responsibility to let those guys know exactly where Edson is sitting and try to relay that when he’s starting to make a run and make sure they know it’s coming and from which direction and which way he’s headed.

Q: And how do you deal with crosses delivered with the precision of a David Beckham?
A: I was very impressed what he was doing with the ball. even some of those balls no one was getting on the end of were certainly (in) very, very dangerous places. we have to make sure we put pressure on him and don’t take it easy on him.

Q: Your coach said earlier this week on the conference call you want to play until you’re 45. True?
A: I want to play as long as it feels right. I certainly feel this year has been a step in that direction. It’s nice to be in with a new group (of players) – it’s almost like starting anew. I just want to thank those guys for stepping up when I didn’t have a team like in March when it was very, very late at the end of the pre-season. I’ve got a lot to play for.

You usually live on a week to week basis off of your results and whether you have tied, won or lost. I’ve only had to really deal with losing a game once this season. You can go through huge stretches of time and not really ever experience that, I don’t think. So it’s one of those things where I’ve been able to enjoy my weeks for an extended period of time this year and that’s not something that has ever really gone on. It’s tough to fathom it has been like that. You really try and plug away and do the things that got us there the week before – put ourselves in a position to be successful.

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Saturday Kicks: Galaxy update & more

I’ll post an interview with former Galaxy and current FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman from training this morning at Home Depot Center a little later, but wanted to note ahead of Sunday’s Western Conference final in Carson that:

*Reporter Phil Collin has an update from a hairy Galaxy camp

*Tickets to the grass berm are again on sale for the game at $24 and while tickets elsewhere in the stadium are getting hard to find through the Galaxy, sources like Stubhub have plenty of tickets available, some at below face value by the looks of it.

*Dallas – or at least the Dallas Morning News – is already contemplating the possibility of penalty kicks deciding the game.

*Long Beach State were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, as expected, by powerhouse Stanford.

*A 50-yard bomb from Ashli Sandoval that proved the game-winner gave USC a 3-1 win over Illinois Friday and a meeting with host Notre Dame Sunday in the NCAA second round.

*Lawndale’s Rafael Baca had two assists and LMU beat St. Mary’s 2-0 Friday. The win moves the Lions (12-5-2, 8-2-1 WCC) into sole possession of first place in the WCC standings with one game remaining. Baca now has eight assists on the year.

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