Monday, August 25, 2008

Galaxy's huge challenge

I wrote my PE column on the Western Conference and how the playoff picture may sort out. I actually predicted which teams I think will join Houston in the postseason.

Now, I won't reveal who I think will come through but I will add a little bit more here on the Galaxy and why I think it will be hard for them to reach the playoffs. Maybe you can put two and two together and decide if I think the Galaxy is among the two teams I gave a shot at the playoffs.

Before I start, every team in the West is saying the same thing - if we can just win one or two in a row, everything will be okay. Yeah, that's all well and good but let's look at statistics, people, not just some pie-in-the-sky sentiment. How many times has each Western conference team (besides Houston, they are excused and may go to recess early) won two or more games in a row? (And I'm only looking at consecutive wins, not unbeaten streaks because you aren't going to tie your way to the playoffs)

- Real Salt Lake: Zero
- FC Dallas: Twice (won two consecutive games on separate occasions)
- Colorado: Zero
- Chivas USA: Once (won three-in-a-row in late May, early June)
- Galaxy: Twice (won two consecutive games on separate occasions)
- San Jose: Once (won two straight earlier this month)

In other words, it's not just as easy as flipping the switch.

Now, as far as the Galaxy goes, the Galaxy has not beaten a team with a winning record. Four of their remaining nine games are against teams with winning records: at New England, at Chicago, at Columbus, Houston. Also, DC has a 10-10-1 mark now and will play at the Galaxy.

Of the Galaxy's remaining four home games, two could be played without Landon Donovan and David Beckham as international calendars become congested on Sept. 6 (Real Salt Lake at Galaxy) and Oct. 12 (Colorado at Galaxy). I suppose you could throw Eddie Lewis in there as well, and possibly even Ante Jazic.

Five road games loom on the calendar and the Galaxy has a 2-5-3 road record thus far.

Now, you can say what you will about the players and the cohesion and the affect Bruce Arena may have on the team (because I know some of you are thinking that very thing right now!). I'm merely bringing up statistics. And these stats don't lie. It's going to be extremely difficult for the Galaxy to reach the playoffs.

As for my thoughts on the other Western teams, well, you'll have to wait for the column to find out about that.

8 comments:

Lee said...

If the Galaxy loose both games
where Donovan and Beckham are
gone and don't make the playoffs
because of it, it might be the
thing that makes the MLS take
game dates off the international
dates.

Nathanhj said...

I think the Galaxy needs a minimum of 14 points in order to make the playoff and probably more like 16.

They have 9 games to do it.

The past nine games they took home 4 points.

Then there are all the other things you cite in this post.

Unless this team wins 6 in a row like they did to finish 2007, there's no way. And I don't think they are winning 6 in a row against teams like New England, Chicago, and Columbus, all away.

Lalas was fired at least a season too late and Gullit should never have been hired. Not because Gullit is a bad tactician or manager of players, but because there's no way he was every going to learn to be successful in MLS.

Arena has the potential to do great thing in LA, but they aren't going to happen in time to help make the playoffs in 2008 (if, indeed they ever happen at all).

The realities of MLS expansion are making it harder and harder for a team to go winless for a third of the season and still make the playoffs with a September-October hot streak.

In many ways 2007 was a learning-curve season, marked by a team coming to grips with taking a giant step forward in global recognition and media attention. 2008 should have been the year it started paying off on the field, but front-office bungling really made this The Lost Season.

I would expect a precipitous drop-off in season ticket sales at the conclusion of this season, barring some miracle run into the playoffs. Which I don't expect.

Anonymous said...

Way back on June 14th after the G's got done destroying San Jose 3-0, I turned to my wife and said the next few weeks we will see how good the Galaxy really are because they about to enter the tough stretch of their schedule. And right on queue, they haven't won a game since. From first to worst in just two months. Well, they are not in last place yet but looking at their schedule here on out, I am pretty sure they will finish bottom two or three in the league. No way we make the play offs.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

In many ways 2007 was a learning-curve season, marked by a team coming to grips with taking a giant step forward in global recognition and media attention. 2008 should have been the year it started paying off on the field, but front-office bungling really made this The Lost Season.

Nathan, the bungling really began when Lalas became GM in 2006. That's when he started the constant roster turnover that devastated a once-fine defense and destroyed any chance the Galaxy had of creating some on the field chemistry.

As a result of that constant turnover, and expenditure on players, I'm sure Lalas was ordered not to make so many trades. But by that time, fitting under the salary cap became a problem.

Arena is going to have his hands full rebuilding this team.

starinyourfire said...

there is not much to say to defend this team, its been a tough couple of seasons watching them not going to the playoffs(and maybe them missing it again unless they turn it around) international dates don't play in the favor of the Galaxy and doesn't go in their favor when they face opponents who also have players on international duty.

we have a bunch of rookies and tenured players and rely too much on 2 or 3 players to produce results. if the defense can shore up their holes and the midfield can get the ball up top and our forwards score on their chances they can have a shot of making the playoffs...if all of those three areas stay healthy of course.

Nathanhj said...

Nathan, the bungling really began when Lalas became GM in 2006. That's when he started the constant roster turnover that devastated a once-fine defense and destroyed any chance the Galaxy had of creating some on the field chemistry.

True enough. In past internet musings I've pinned the G's problems on the death of Doug Hamilton and the inability of the club to adequately fill the void he left.

And I've also noted that Lalas showed his penchant for the deal that didn't need to be made when he sent Hartmam, Ihemelu, and Gomez packing in return for Cannon. That trade got rid of three decent-to-quality players, plugged a hole that was already filled, while starting the long slow slide towards mediocrity in the back and left midfield.

Awesome. Give me more of that.

Arena could give this club stability and bring in quality players, but not soon enough to have an impact in 2008.

The last three seasons have been a joke.

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