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.
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.
The CONCACAF Champions League labors in relative obscurity with scant respect.
On some game days it’s overshadowed by its more illustrious relative across the pond.
American fans, and the domestic soccer establishment for that matter, haven’t quite embraced the largely inferior regional international rivalries that prompt coaches like Bruce Arena of the Galaxy to field reserves and youngsters for what often amounts to a midweek distraction.
And even television has relegated the product to a minor channel (in the case of last night’s game, Fox Soccer Plus, which apparently hasn’t folded even if older brother Fox Soccer itself has).
But if you haven’t watched the highlights of last night’s game yet, check them out above.
Three goals in 30 minutes allowed the Galaxy to imperiously swat their opponents away while qualifying for the next stage of the competition with ease.
The first two goals came encouragingly from youngsters Jack McBean and Chandler Hoffman, while reserve veteran Laurent Courtois provided the highlight reel goal of the evening with a lovely strike.
And it was all over within the first half hour of the game.
Well, them and experienced backups Pablo Mastroeni and Chivas USA castoff Laurent Courtois in what was by all accounts an unattractive grind of a game, but got the home team exactly the result they needed both in this competition and to set up Saturday’s big clash against Seattle with rested regulars. Beat writer Phil Collin was at the game and filed this report.
Here’s the Galaxy starting XI, which included two players making their Galaxy debuts, BTW: Brian Rowe – Rafael Garcia, Tommy Meyer, Kofi Opare, Greg Cochrane – Michael Stephens, Pablo Mastroeni, Laurent Courtois – Jose Villarreal, Jack McBean, Chandler Hoffman
*The Galaxy play tonight at 7 o’clock in their second CONCACAF Champions League group game in Carson.
*Meanwhile, Saturday’s opponents have a surplus of options for their starting XI.
*Chivas USA President Jose David, a non-soccer guy much reviled by the club’s hardcore supporters, is out after just 11 months in the job where he was better known for spawning racial discrimination lawsuits than success on the field, replaced by a lawyer and bean counter from the mothership. Ho hum.
Despite starting an unusually large number of regulars (there were still six changes to the lineup that faced Real Salt Lake Saturday), it took Landon Donovan coming on as a substitute for the Galaxy to unlock the rear guard action of their Costa Rican opponents Tuesday in Carson in a CONCACAF Champions League opener the home team wanted to win by two clear goals.
MLS beat writer Phil Collin was one of 9,474 on hand for the game and filed this report.
Notable: Defender Kofi Opare made his debut and midfielder Robbie Rogers will undergo a scan today to determine the severity of a hamstring issue that forced him from the game prematurely.
Quotable: “It wasn’t a convincing performance but we played well enough to certainly win the game,” said striker Robbie Keane. “It’s always nice to get a couple of goals because goal difference is very important in this [competition.]”
Here’s the significance of the win in the tournament, according to the Galaxy website:
The Galaxy are now tied with Cartagines for the top spot in Group 8. Both teams have three points with the Galaxy standing at 1-0-0 while Cartagines are 1-1-0. Isidro Metapan are in third place with an 0-1-0 record and no points.
The Galaxy also have the best goal difference in the group at +2 while Cartagines are even and Metapan are -2.
It figures in a column about the Galaxy’s visibility among general sports fans in Southern California, the piece would go AWOL — on our own web sites (and we’re still awaiting the return of the dedicated soccer page on our websites since a radical redesign last week, in case you were wondering, BTW).
Still, you can belatedly read the column online as the Galaxy embarks on their final 10-game MLS stretch as well as the start of the CONCACAF Champions League tonight in Carson here.
Incidentally, regular Galaxy sellouts at home may be a thing of the past in Carson, but not elsewhere.
The Vancouver Whitecaps announced today that fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for Saturday’s game against the Galaxy.
Real Salt Lake, who vanquished Chivas USA last weekend, are now looking to do the same to the Galaxy, who make the trek to Utah for a game Saturday. Sister newspaper The Salt Lake City Tribune has more here.
Give blood Friday at the Cedars-Sinai Rita and Taft Schreiber Blood Donor Facility, 8700 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles and receive a free pair of tickets to an unspecified Galaxy game. Walk-ins are welcome, appointments recommended. Call 310-423-2637. As a bonus, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Galaxy’s 2011 and 2012 MLS Cups will be on display there, too.