This weekend marks the beginning of the road trip of the year for Galaxy fans: Two games in five days against two teams – the Whitecaps and Timbers – in a pair of beautiful coastal cities – Vancouver and Portland.
Even better, these are real soccer strongholds.
Boisterous, knowledgeable fans. Great atmospheres. And plenty of excellent craft beers to wash it all down.
Had family matters not intervened, it’s where I had hoped to be right now.
Alas 4:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel is as close as I’ll get to today’s first game from British Columbia that sees the Galaxy put a 13-game, two-month-long unbeaten streak on the line against a Vancouver team that hasn’t won a game in its last five outings.
There’s no David Beckham on duty for the Galaxy today although Landon Donovan expects to return from a calf sprain that kept him out of last Sunday’s exhibition against Manchester City and the midweek MLS All-Star game.
Incidentally, I chatted with former Galaxy GM and ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas from new Jersey earlier this week and asked him about his opinion of this Galaxy team.
Are the Galaxy a mediocre team atop a mediocre league? Are we asking too much for fewer draws and more entertaining play rather than just doing enough to not lose?
“I don’t think that Bruce Arena is getting enough credit for what he is doing,” Lalas said. “When things have, as they do, break down, he has found ways to continue to grind out results.
“I have to take my hat off to Bruce Arena for getting results, but I also know from having been there that that is not all that’s expected of you. … You have a responsibility to not just win, but win in a certain way. … I still believe it is the way to go even if it might bring unrealistic expectations on the coach or the club.
“We are in the entertainment business and I don’t make any apologies for that. The performance you give is important and you are there to entertain. A lot of these (MLS) teams are very beige, I guess and that’s too bad. I’m not sure it’s a function of the parity (in the league) but it doesn’t help.”
And these are games against expansion teams the Galaxy should not only win, but win in style. We’ll see.
Bonus coverage: Staff Writer Phil Collin looks at the younger Galaxy players who had a chance to play in recent games.