Most observers predicted a tight one goal game and that’s what we got in the first leg marked by a moment of brilliance that will live long in the memory.
Still, it’s only halftime and I’ll have more on the Galaxy and the MLS playoffs in general in Tuesday’s column.
— Nick Green (@LAsoccerblog) October 31, 2013
The experience of the Seattle Sounders at home Saturday provides a cautionary tale today for the Galaxy as they open their playoff series in Carson against Real Salt Lake (live at 6 p.m. on ESPN)..
It could have been much worse for former Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid, but there is already blood in the water as predators circle and fans pile on the pressure.
By comparison Galaxy coach Bruce Arena’s two-time defending MLS Cup champions must merely struggle with being anointed favorites by the opposing coach, a statement that wasn’t so much mind game as stating a fact given the Galaxy’s advantage over RSL so far this season.
Bottom line: Playoffs are a different beast, but the Galaxy’s home form this season must surely be enough for a slim one goal advantage come halftime of the 180-minute contest tonight barring a late defensive collapse..
*Torrance’s Anika Rodriguez scored a goal along with six other Americans in the 8-0 U.S. rout of Trinidad & Tobago Thursday at the U-17 championships.
*The compliments and the mind games have begun ahead of Sunday’s Galaxy-RSL playoff game in Carson (live at 6 p.m. on ESPN).
*Here’s your comprehensive EPL weekend preview.
My picks for the weekend’s EPL and MLS playoff games not to miss:
10:30 a.m. Saturday NBC Arsenal-Liverpool
7 p.m. Saturday NBCSN Seattle-Portland
A few links for today:
- The Seattle Sounders finally won, beating the Colorado Rapids last night and will take on the Portland Timbers Saturday in the next round of the MLS playoffs. The winner of the Galaxy-RSL series takes on the victor of that two game contest.
- Mexico finally won in San Diego Wednesday night before an unusually small crowd that illustrates the depth of the skepticism over the quality of this Mexican team, while the U.S. women drew New Zealand.
- Chivas USA plays its final game of 2013 in Tuscon. Tickets to the Nov. 15 friendly against minor league opposition go on sale at noon today.
- Torrance midfielder Anika Rodriguez and her U-17 U.S. teammates open play in the world championship against Trinidad & Tobago in Jamaica. Fox is offering free streaming of the game that kicks off at 4 p.m. today on its FoxSoccerGo app.
A few quick links as the MLS playoffs begin tonight:
- MLS has unveiled the complete playoff schedule.
- Former Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid and the Sounders ownership group are downplaying the pressure their coach is under as Seattle meets the Colorado Rapids tonight.
- David Beckham is inching closer to an MLS franchise in Miami.
- Surprise, surprise Real Salt Lake is focusing on stopping Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane Sunday in Carson.
A packed house despite difficult weather conditions will greet the Galaxy tonight in a finely poised nationally televised season finale with massive playoff implications and plenty of talking points between two familiar foes.
Chivas USA, meanwhile, ended their season humbled and humiliated at home to a dazzling Portland Timbers team clearly enjoying their brand of football and perhaps ominously for their rivals still building and maturing.
Still, the Goats genuinely appear to believe they are progressing, despite the uncertainty of who will try to coach a team and franchise that appears in utter disarray:
I really want Chivas to succeed as a club, but MLS NEEDS to step in & do something b/c right now CUSA is an embarrassment to the whole sport
— Hairy M. Stache (@LevesquesStache) October 27, 2013
If you can’t attend the game, it will be televised live on KDOC-TV & Mundo Fox-22; listen to the color commentary on @WRadio690 AM
— Chivas USA (@cdchivasusa) October 26, 2013
A Portland team that could still win the MLS regular season crown meets one of the league’s chronic losers tonight in Carson, with Chivas USA needing a win merely to equal last year’s pathetic total of seven wins that itself represented the franchise’s worst performance since their opening season in 2005.
It’s an alleged “new era” that sadly looks a lot like the old one for a club that shows no signs of shaking off an ingrained malaise that should have the league office reacting in alarm as promised back in July, but instead leaves one wondering whether MLS Commish Don Garber is getting in some practice of genuflecting to wealthy, clueless team owners before fleeing for the NFL as conjectured.
In fairness, the club hinted at better times briefly late in the season, on the field at least. But with Chivas USA likely to start all over again in the offseason if the current coach leaves as expected, a roster largely bereft of MLS quality players and a management and ownership team that inspires confidence in virtually no one, it’s hard to see any end to one of the most slowly unfolding and humiliating marketing disasters in professional sports.
The Timbers, in contrast, are everything Chivas USA is not, but should be. A savvy owner, deliriously loyal fan base, quick to adapt to MLS wily coach, exciting players capable of incisive, cunning football, and superb venue have combined to make one of the league’s greatest success stories with the potential for much more to come.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy arguably have much more at stake in this game than their local rivals, who after this game will slink off into the wilderness of the MLS winter as much adrift as ever.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) October 25, 2013
U.S. international Herculez Gomez sounds ready for the match-up. Are you?
Relive tonight (You know Nicolas Munoz will want to after a hat trick inside four minutes then adding a fourth before half time to wrap things up, if not Galaxy coach Bruce Arena):
@LAGalaxy's Bruce Arena, asked if his team underestimated Isidro Metapan: "I did not … and if our team did, it certainly showed."
— Scott French (@ScottJFrench) October 25, 2013
Chivas USA’s 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake Wednesday night that denied the Galaxy a chance to finish first in the Western Conference has put LA in the odd spot of cheering for their regional rivals for the second consecutive game this coming weekend as the MLS season concludes.
A win or a tie by Chivas USA in Carson Saturday against the second place Portland Timbers combined with a Galaxy victory over the Sounders in Seattle Sunday would give LA second place in the division. That’s because Portland and the Galaxy would be tied on points (with a Timbers win), but the positional tie breaker is total wins, not goal difference and LA would have two more wins than the Timbers.
The question, of course, is whether Chivas USA will show up on what is fan appreciation night. And, by the way, who will show up for Seattle, too, given that the club is showing signs of buckling under the pressure heaped upon them by fans and the considerable investment of their ownership group.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy are in Central America preparing for tonight’s group finale in the CONCACAF Champions League with their continued participation in the tournament already assured.
Despite coach Bruce Arena’s protestations earlier in the week about the timing of the game, the contest might actually help the Galaxy’s MLS playoff cause in one respect by giving returning defender A.J. DeLaGarza valuable minutes before the playoffs begin, while keeping suspended midfielder Juninho fresh for much the same reason.
Finally, Galaxy fans should take a moment to click on the following link to give former defender Chris Albright his fair due as he bids farewell to the game.
Albright was always a quiet locker room leader who knew how to set an example on and off the field. Quite simply one of the classiest and most articulate spokesman for the sport I have ever had the pleasure to interview, I’m guessing we haven’t heard the last of him in a coaching or some other capacity in MLS.