Last night, for the first time in my time as a Major League Soccer (MLS) fan, I pulled for the Los Angeles Galaxy. I couldn’t help myself, not with them dragging desperately around the pitch like a three-legged dog. I pulled, especially, for Landon Donovan and Abel Xavier, who, together, seemed to be two of those three legs.
The fervent prayers of ten thousand well-wired saints, never mind my feeble pitying support, could not have saved the team the Galaxy fielded last night against a strong Chivas USA side. What life is left to pray for runs through Donovan, Xavier, Joe Cannon, and, arguably, what’s left of Kyle Martino’s after you account for his nagging injuries. No disrespect intended to the rest of the Galaxy team, but, player-for-player, they just don’t stack up right now.
The shortcomings are both most apparent and painful up top. Carlos Pavon looks like my dad could push him in a foot-race, while one-dimensional stands as the most polite insult one can direct at Alan Gordon; he’s 80% target-player and 0% open-field runner; the time Chris Klein tried to play the latter into a foot-race through the defense painfully illustrated Gordon’s limitations.
We were all in for an evening of mildly appalled viewing from the moment Chivas scored the first goal; that Razov scored the goal with his RIGHT FOOT only poured more salt into the wounds. With LA’s forward line so unequal to the job, the game seemed over and, the Galaxy, dead. Still, Donovan and Martino pushed bravely – if, in the case of the former – recklessly forward in a spirit that recalled a tortured doctor from a hospital drama, the man who recoils at the thought of losing a single patient. One could almost hear Donovan screaming, “NO! Live, damn you! LIVE!!” In my memory, though, the Galaxy never came meaningfully close to scoring and that’s in spite of getting into position: Xavier sailing a near-range shot almost implausibly high over the crossbar or Gordon flopping on his back trying to trap a high, through-ball with his foot come to mind there.
When, around the 85th minute, Chivas scored a second – this one on a well-taken shot by Francisco “Panchito” Mendoza – the entire affair turned a touch morbid. When Laurent Merlin scored off a sloppy clearance – a play that originated when still another Galaxy defender was caught dicking around with the ball too long – it all became essentially grotesque. That’s two hard kicks into the side of a helpless corpse. I tried to change the channel after the first, but it all happened so fast.
And to think, we’ll get to see this at least a few more times this season.