The Team Alexi Has Built: A Visual Reaction

My first attempt at capturing the spirit of this game was a sketch of me covering my eyes, an appropriate choice because that’s how I watched the the final fifteen minutes of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s season opener. But the image at left, which captures my reaction to the Colorado Rapids’ third goal and the degenerating mess that was LA, poses the question that came to me at the time: what the frank was Alexi Lalas thinking when he built this team? Max Bretos (or was it Christopher Sullivan) said enough when he wondered aloud what good it does LA to have three all-stars in the front line when they don’t have the players behind them to get the ball upfield.

Some other quotes, this time from Bretos, as he watched the game:

“Like lambs to the slaughter….”
(Just before Colin Clark’s goal, which Colorado’s fourth.)

“Like a hot knife through butter.”
(Right after Clark’s goal. And it was that bad.)

Without laboring the point, something I’ll be doing later on the Rapids Offside, I want to kick an idea out there: how is Alexi Lalas still employed? And isn’t it just a little insulting to your understanding of the game that he still is? This is just a guess, but I’m thinking if you ran the roster and some video past, oh, 85% of soccer fans they’d immediately question both the roster and the assumptions behind it. I mean, there’s taking risks (driving fast) and there’s being just plain stupid (driving fast and stumbling drunk…toward a brickwall…probably one with that big picture of Beckham in underwear).

The painful thing is, the weakness is exactly where everyone expected it – even if I’m pretty confident no one anticipated the degree of the problems. It’s important to put this in perspective: LA just had their defense mauled by the Colorado Rapids. Yes, one of the worst offensive teams from just one year ago…and one missing a bunch of starters to boot. Michael Gavin is, quite possibly, the worst left-back in MLS; Abel Xavier is starting to show his age (did you see what Colin Clark did to him? Sheesh.): but, generally, they’re disorganized, unsure of their roles, they may not be collectively competent for all I know…just a friggin’ mess.

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Los Angeles Galaxy 2007 Review: The Cubic Zirconia of MLS

I hope everyone had a good Turkey Day and watched lots of futbol Americano (it’s what God wants you to do on Thanksgiving…trust me). It’s good to be back.

Los Angeles Galaxy
Record (W-L-T): 9-14-7; 38 GF, 48 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports

Overview

The simple presence of the David Beckham Singularity means only the rankest of Major League Soccer (MLS) neophytes doesn’t know the sorry tale of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 2007. Once everyone, the Galaxy players included, digested the fact that league officials had abused LA’s schedule to the point of cruelty, winning the early games seemed important to the team’s success. When that didn’t pan out – to the tune of going 1-3-3 through April and May – “panic” items of all sorts were punched, pulled, yanked, prayed to, etc. Out went names from the familiar – Tyrone Marshall, Shavar Thomas, and Nate “Damned Lucky” Jaqua – to the promising and obscure – Robbie Findley and Nate Sturgis – and in came a stable of familiar, perhaps underwhelming names like Edson Buddle, Chris Klein, Kelly Gray, and Carlos Pavon. They picked up a more impressive name/trade with Portuguese defender Abel Xavier, but he stands as a near-exception in a season of head-scratching trades.

The upshot of all that horse-trading – based, for the record, on the assumption that these were players of “character” up to handling Life with Beckham – was a 3-5-4 record in league play heading into the All-Star break and a long layoff from league play. Then came Beckham…and that’s when things really started sucking.

The yo-yo tale of Beckham’s pair of injuries, the fans burned by semi-coercive ticket packages built around seeing Beckham, and, most significantly, the distraction of too many friendlies, too many games (league plus Superliga, etc.) – all these familiar talking points – coincided with/caused a downright horrifying August and September, when the Galaxy set a standard for incompetence that had many viewing them as the worst team in MLS. It seemed LA GM’ Alexi Lalas’ “gem” was a cubic zirconia. Continue reading

Chivas 3-0 LA: Two Kicks to the Moldering Corpse

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.