Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sequel Suck Factor

Probably everyone has experienced the sequel suck factor - going to see the second edition of a beloved film and realizing that this new movie is so bad that inevitably, former fond and happy memories of the first edition are forever tainted. 

For me, it was the Matrix Reloaded - with a contrived, convoluted storyline, product placement action sequences, and odd, disconnected acting - that ruined The Matrix for me. I was rooting for Trinity, my fave from the first movie, to die so she'd escape the dreck that was the Reloaded film, and I felt absolutely cheated when Neo magically removed the bullet that killed her and restarted her heart. I still haven't ever seen the third film of the Matrix trilogy. The second movie was so bad, I couldn't be bothered to care about how everything eventually ended.

Sucky sequel
Sometimes the second film is actually as good, or even better, than the first. The Empire Strikes Back comes to mind. However, it's rare. Generally, the pleasant surprise element of whatever original idea the first film in a franchise had is gone, and it's not as good the second time around. 
So the link to something soccer-related is - Landon Donovan is returning to Everton on loan. 
But why? I can guess at various reasons. 
1) He likes it there. The blue side of the Mersey treated him well during his earlier loan stint and with the club struggling this season, Donovan is likely to be welcomed back with open arms. 
2) Cause Klinsy said so. USMNT coach Klinsmann has made it clear to USA players based in MLS that he would like them to train on loan during the offseason, and LD is still hoping for that USA captaincy. Ergo, he goes. 
3) Galaxy job is done. With the MLS championship secured, LD doesn't have the pressure of, 'didn't win the title, shouldn't he rest and focus on that before traipsing off for a loan stint' questions. 
4) Back on the market? Donovan has said before that he would in fact welcome a move to Europe if the offer is right. A showcase turn at Everton might encourage interest. 

5) Knee needs a workout. Donovan was probably more injury-affected this season than ever before, but much of that was kept under wraps. In fact, the exact nature and extent of his 2011 injury woes are still mysterious. It might be something which could actually benefit from game time at this point in the recovery schedule. That would be weird in terms of typical injuries, but strange things are possible.
Now that I've run down some possible reasons for LD at Everton, Part II, Try Harder, here's some reasons why all may not go as well as it did before. 
1) He's older, and Prem defenders are wiser. Donovan's lost a half-step since he was last at Everton, (that's purely my individual measurement, not any scientific fact) and in England, that half-step lost can be deadly. Look at how useless Theirry Henry became once he lost even a little speed. Also, it won't be assumed that the American is completely useless, as might have been the case a bit before. 

2) Expectations are higher. Even if Donovan replicates his earlier success with the club, that may not meet expectations. That's because rather than expecting little, Everton fans are probably looking for a lot more. 

3). The need is greater. Everton need a lifeline. They're like the American middle class right now, getting squeezed from all sides. Creative budgeting isn't doing it when the top clubs keep grabbing up the best players. Donovan wasn't looked at as a savior before, and he might be this time. 

4) Less help, more work. Everton doesn't have Arteta, the midfield maestro who Donovan meshed well with before. The club's offensive output has been paltry. Donovan can't do it alone. 

5) That wonky knee. Though he soldiered through the season and scored the goal that won the Galaxy the title, Donovan didn't have, by his standards, a great year. He's likely not as fit as he was two years ago. 

In time, we'll see how The Striker Strikes Again turns out. Donovan at Everton, The Second Time, could defy the odds and my own pessimism.

It'll Kill You

Fandom, that is. Well, that and Addison's. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dempsey, Donovan, Friedel Donnybrook

I sighed a little reading about the dust-up stirred up among fans when Brad Friedel made some remarks to the effect that Landon Donovan took "the easy road" by staying in Major League Soccer, as compared to Clint Dempsey, who plays in England for Fulham. 

Friedel backtracked a bit by going on to explain his comments were not meant to disparage Landon or any other MLS player. His words surely weren't complimentary, however. 

That a player who worked hard to move to England and then has worked very hard to stay there thinks it means more for another player to do the same is perfectly legitimate, though. It's simple preference. 

For people to be upset about that opinion is as pointless as the chocolate versus vanilla debate.  

Both Donovan and Dempsey are good players. Both have accomplished a lot for their respective clubs and for the USMNT. Arguments can easily be made for one or the other as the top USA player today. The winner will always come down to which qualities or achievements are valued more by the person doing the evaluation. 

Debate among fans is good, though, and for some, a rehash of old arguments is still worthwhile, given that history needs to be updated with the latest information and comparisons. 

For me, the Donovan versus Dempsey debate is far less irritating than another, more frustrating argument. 

This is the one I call the 'ghost Donovan' debate. 

This is the argument made by people who believe that if Landon Donovan had stayed at Bayer Leverkusen (either the first -circa 2000- or the second time -circa 2004-), he would have somehow taken his limited playing time and buckled down into a really inspired hard worker who would be the most amazing USA player ever, make it on to some top team like Manchester United or Barcelona, and play well enough that worldwide, there would be admiration for his talent and people would regularly say, "Americans can really play."

The 'ghost Donovan' is better than the real one at every turn. He speaks Dutch and French (stints with Ajax and Lyon) in addition to German, Spanish and English. GD's a little taller, faster, nicer, and dresses better than Donovan.  He makes souffles instead of eating In-&-Out cheeseburgers. 

Yet even with the luxury of imagining a perfect world for GD, the timeline of reality is also a powerful argument. Without the game experience learned in MLS, would Donovan have been ready for World Cup 2002? What would have changed from that point on?

The sad thing about the GD versus LD argument is that it casts a shadow on everything Donovan does accomplish. Apparently, GD would have scored even more USA goals, notched even more assists. LD can't escape the comparisons against a super-idealized, European-playing version of himself. 

I've said before that I firmly believe some of Donovan's most strident detractors are actually his biggest fans when they say he'd be so much better if he played in Europe. I've thought of him as a good player, but not one with huge reserves of untapped potential. In either MLS or abroad, he's been pretty much the same player for quite a while now. He's not going to suddenly crank up to another gear or become a total magician with the ball. What will define his legacy at this point will be his longevity - and his ability to sustain that level of play.

Some have argued that Donovan owed it to other American players to blaze a trail for them abroad, but it's possible that GD would have been considered an American anomaly, made more in Germany, etc, than really produced by the USA. Who knows? Everything about GD is pure conjecture, agonizingly abstract. 

I guess the debate that I want to see one day is one comparing two top USA players, say, Sebastian Lletget and Luis Gill. I'd like to see fans raving on about their speed and skill, their creativity and strength under pressure, citing special shots or moments as evidence of superiority, but completely bypassing as irrelevant the continent of the club teams both represent. It probably won't happen for a long while, but it's better than the tiresome GD versus LD scenario.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Injury Creates Opportunity

When Brad Guzan first joined Major League Soccer in 2005 as a part of Chivas USA, he was in his early twenties, basically just a kid, especially for a goalkeeper. But an injury to starter Martin Vasquez forced Guzan into the starters role and the adversity pushed him to excel, eventually earning a transfer abroad to England. There, he waited. 

And waited. 

Let's hope he makes the most of it.  I predict he will do well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

He remains an Englishman

I haven't had a chance to ask David Beckham of late about his future plans now that he's finally an MLS champion, but my guess is that he's leaving the Los Angeles Galaxy. 

I do think winning that title last night meant a lot to him. He's a competitive player. He wanted to win very badly. 

Yet there's something beyond club glory that has always mattered more to Becks. 

His country. 

For he himself has said it
And it's greatly to his credit,
That he is an Englishman!

Simply put, the Galaxy have always taken a backseat to Beckham's desire to serve his country. I'm not simply talking about playing for England, either, although it's pretty remarkable how far he's flown, or where he's taken loans to help make that happen. 

Whether it has been lobbying for the Olympics, the FIFA 2014 World Cup, attending the royal wedding or whatever, Becks has been pretty much at the beck and call of his homeland. It didn't matter that many in England derided his move to the Los Angeles as the ultimate sellout. Becks remained loyal to helping his country in whatever capacity possible. 

Of course, when Beckham played in Spain for Real Madrid, the club versus country conundrums were less obvious partly because Spain was an easy flight to England for any needed games.  MLS games also conflicted more often with international dates. Even for friendlies, Beckham would choose England.

For, in spite of all temptations
To belong to other nations
He remains an Englishman

Often, though, this loyalty to country was to the detriment of Beckham's MLS club. The two loan deals to AC Milan so Fabio Capello would know for certain Beckham could actually still hit a good cross cut out half of the Galaxy regular season. Plus, Beckham got injured during the crucial second loan right before the 2010 World Cup, so that time away from MLS to try to secure his spot in the England squad was all ultimately for naught. 

Other players might have sulked at home, but Becks went to the World Cup anyway, supporting England from the sidelines. Who knows if that helped, but either way, he was there. 

Ultimately, Beckham's internal compass always points to England. The prospect of playing in the Olympics could be what drives Beckham to Paris St. Germain. Of course, that's a team that would represent Great Britain, the UK as a whole, but that's close enough for Becks, especially with the Olympic games being hosted in London, his home city. 

Simply put, it's probably easier to make the Olympics from Paris, where the future UK coach could easily see that yes, Becks can still hit a cross. It's also probably better for the Galaxy not to lose Beckham for all that time in the summer, when the MLS season will be in full swing. Why should they put too much money competing against PSG for a player who wants to be away again to serve his country?

Of course Becks cares about the Galaxy. I saw that back in 2009, when he puffed desperately on his asthma inhaler to make it through the 2009 final. I saw it in his tears after the final 2011 whistle, when the championship was his at last. Yet if going to Paris helps his chances to make the Great Britain team, I'm betting he'll take that over returning to the Galaxy. 

He remains an Englishman.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stomp the Stands

The HDC is rocking tonight - even if Chivas USA have been eliminated from the playoffs. I'm here on behalf of Futbol Mundial, at the event sponsored by Chrysler to honor Chivas USA outreach to the community. Mostly they've run a bunch of soccer camps, involving over 300 kids who might otherwise not be in in a soccer camp at all. 

It's great to be back in the stadium. I haven't had an assignment here for a while and I've also been busy teaching. 

One thing I hope any HDC fans remember from tonight is how great the sound is when the upper decks of the stadium are stomped. It shakes the whole place with a thunderous, steady sound when the fans stomp their feet. I hope it happens in the playoffs and for MLS Cup especially. 

Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sounders - Herediano, CCL Running Blog

TFC pulled off the win over Tauro FC, so lets see what Seattle can do in their CONCACAF Champions League clash versus Herediano. It should be a tougher test. 

Sounders lineup: GK Keller, D Scott, D Ianni, D Hurtado, D Gonzalez, M Carrasco, M Sanyang, M Neagle, M Levesque, F Jaqua, F Noonan.  

Herediano: GK Cambronero, D Montero, D Sanchez, D Calvo, D Obando, D Salazar, M Cordero, M Arias, M Alvarado, F Barbosa, F Andrade

No cohost for FSC's Rogondino? Get Chris Henderson in there. Who cares if he's not impartial? At least he knows the game.

1 - Kickoff. My eyes! They're already bleeding at the sight of the Sounders' glowing neon uniforms.

3 - Rogo seems befuddled at the absence of a color man. He's giving a bunch of side info and ignoring the actual match.

4 - Herediano have a corner. It's played short and then fed in, but Keller catches it.

6 - Rogo's actually calling the game now. There's not much going on, to be fair, though Seattle are probing for chances.

7  - Foul on Neagle gives Seattle a FK. Herediano GK catches that.

9 - I gave up on Rogo. I'm watching the Spanish broadcast of the match. Suddenly it's much more exciting.

11 - Have I mentioned how much I hate artificial turf? It's hard to tell that the pro players are at a high level when the ball keeps rolling long on that stuff. Ruins the game.

13 - Not to say that chewed up grass is a better playing surface, but at least it looks terrible, so it's honest. Plastic grass is a weird cheat - it looks fine, especially from a distance or on television, but it just doesn't play right or true to the game.

14 - Off the post! What a weird play. The Sounders stood around like they expected a teammate to cover the run, and in the end, the ball was in the box and past Keller, but it came off the post. Barbosa with the chance.

16 - Neagle sees yellow for a clip from behind. I think the Herediano player is legitimately hurt - rug burn from his forced slide into the turf.

21 - Leo Gonzalez with a shot/cross - the game is picking up pace.

22 - Nate Jaqua shanks a ball from point-blank range. I'd be surprised, but I saw him do that plenty in person as a Galaxy player back in the day.

23 - Actually, Nate has a legit gripe - his shot appeared to deflect off a defender, but the ref missed it. Bad break.
25 - GOAL! Off a freekick, Herediano's Josemar Arias bends it perfectly into the corner. Nicely done. Seattle are stunned at home. CR teams are no joke. It's a little country, but they take their soccer very seriously. 0-1, Herediano leads.
 27 - What a difference a goal makes - Herediano passing the ball around better now, looking lively.
31 - Seattle appear out of sorts.
32 - Herediano players are falling over now. It's kind of early for the delaying tactic.
35 - Herediano's Cordero earns a yellow. Freekick for Seattle.
 38 - Seattle don't appear creative at all at this point.
42 - Corner for Herediano, but Seattle are able to clear.
45 - Herediano seriously look more likely to score again than the Sounders do to notch an equalizer.
46 - We're back and already Herediano have the first chance of the half. This result, if it stands, will really shake up the CCL group.
51 - Freekick for Herediano. Seattle defense deal with it just fine. They've looked solid, mostly. It's the attacking end that is a shambles at present.
53 - Seattle finally mount an attack, but Noonan isn't able to get a shot off.
54 - Seattle charge in again for a  bit of sustained pressure - oh, that didn't last.
56 - Here come Seattle's cavalry - Freddy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso.
65 - It seems too late for Seattle's supermen (aka, regular starters) to save the day. They haven't really been able to get anything going yet.
68 - Herediano holding on strong.
74 - Herediano even looking more likely to score. Oh, and Sammy Ochoa is the last sub for the Sounders. I miss his old curly hair style.
81 - A Montero shot leads to a Seattle corner.
82 - Which leads to a Jaqua header on goal, though it's saved.  Game might have a goal in in for the Sounders yet.
88 - Or not. After than flurry, nothing credible since.
89 - WOW - What a save to rob Ochoa of a Sounders goal. Ochoa pounded a header on goal, but the stop was made one-handed. Herediano's goalkeeper, Cambronero, was the hero there.
90 - He timewastes on the ensuing corner, though, wasting the goodwill he just built up with his play.
92 - Neagle shoots high from a corner - not a great try, but volleys are hard.
94 - Jaqua finally gets a decent cross, but hits the header high. 
95 - I love the announcer's sarcasm. "Well, we are playing on, due to added time from Cambonero's muscular problem, as he apparently had a problem with his muscles." Yeah, he was wasting time.
Final whistle! Sounders put forth a sorry starting lineup and paid for it. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A True Mugging In Morelia

 Thievery. Robbery. A mugging.

The crime rate is high in Morelia, and that doesn’t stop from extending onto the soccer fields there.

Estadio Morelos was site of one of the biggest non-violent crimes in Morelia’s recent history. On Tuesday, the Galaxy had a goal and a victory stolen from them.

With the match tied 1-1 in the 90th minute, Omar Gonzalez smashed a header on goal. Morelia’s Federico Vilar made the save but the ball remained on the goal line. Robbie Keane raced onto it, pushed it into the back of the net and appeared to have given the Galaxy the victory.

But somehow the goal did not stand. Honduran assistant referee Oscar Velasquez raised his flag just as Keane raced away from the goal to celebrate.

Absolute thievery. Total robbery. An atrocious mugging.

Moments later, Miguel Sabah scored the game-winner and the Galaxy walked away empty handed.

The replays show clearly that Keane was at least a yard onside when Gonzalez made contact. Keane passed the last defender sometime after the ball past him. When the ball fell on top of the goal line, Keane was already there.

But that’s because he’s quick and has great instincts, not because he was offside. Perhaps that’s the biggest problem. Velasquez referees the Honduran league, which is not a highly-regarded league in CONCACAF. Mexico is, of course. MLS is getting there. MLS does have top talents such as Keane and perhaps Velasquez is unable to decipher between what a talented goalscorer and what a player who is poaching offside looks like.

Whatever the case is, the Galaxy lost a game they should have won. Stolen from them. Taken right away from them.

It’s a shame really, not just that it happened to the Galaxy but that this happens all the time in this tournament. It’s almost like it’s a requirement to have things like this happen in the CONCACAF Champions League.

It seems that no matter what Champions League game you watch, you almost expect something bad to happen. You expect the game to go to hell in a matter of minutes. Bad calls are as much a part of the game as set pieces. So when the flag was raised and Keane’s goal was harshly called back, it really wasn’t a surprise to anybody.

Anger? Sure, but nobody was surprised.

And that’s the real shame.

Hating On Landon

Landon Donovan and Mexico go hand-in-hand like meat and rabid dogs. It seems that every time Donovan plays against Mexico, be it the national team or a Mexican club, Donovan seems to bring out some emotions from Mexican supporters.

He certainly has drawn some emotions out from the locals here in Morelia.

As the Galaxy began to go through their warm-ups in a mostly-empty and relatively quiet Estadio Morelos on Monday, a shout came down from above.
"Donovan! Fuck you motherfucker! Your ass is mine motherfucker!"

A small group of locals had gotten to a gate where at least part of the field was visible to them. Their villain, Public Enemy No. 1 'round these parts, was down below so why not serenade him?

I wrote a story on some of the issues that perturbs the fans. Donovan has long been a thorn in Mexico's side, having scored five goals against the national team, including the dagger in the 2002 World Cup win over El Tricolor.

Now, on Monday almost without looking for it, we found some pure Donovan hatred. A group of us went to a marketplace to look for soccer jerseys. We wound up talking to one of the vendors for about an hour on various things and the topic of our visit came up. As soon as he found out we were there for the Galaxy-Morelia match, he let loose about Donovan.

"Ask anybody here. Nobody likes him. I heard two guys walking past earlier and they were saying how they were going to go to the game just to talk shit to Donovan."
The vendor, Rafael, was adamant that Donovan did not like Mexicans. He asked several of the people around him "What was it that Donovan said about Mexico?" as if there was something that Donovan had actually said that would have inflamed Mexicans.

If you're talking about goals, that's a good enough reason to dislike Donovan I suppose. And pissing on the field in Estadio Jalisco is something so ridiculous that it's laughable. There's not a field in this planet that hasn't been pissed on.

But perhaps that's where this notion that Donovan does not like Mexicans stems from. At some point, perception certainly became reality and old habits die hard.

Maybe in the United States, Mexican supporters arent' quite as vicious in their attacks over Donovan as they are here. Perhaps since they have the chance to see him play more and, more importantly, they hear him do interviews in Spanish, they have seen for themselves that whatever supposedly racist ideas he carried were never really there.

But don't tell that to the Morelia faithful. If not all, many certainly seem to think he really does not like Mexicans. And you can rest assured that they will let him hear how much they dislike him the moment he takes the field for warm-ups in Estadio Morelos.

Primed For Success

When Galaxy coach Bruce Arena trotted out a different-looking lineup against Colorado, it wasn't just with Colorado in mind.

Sure, Chad Barrett and Paolo Cardozo did well against the Rapids but playing the likes of Barrett, Cardozo, Bryan Jordan and Donovan Ricketts allowed for the Galaxy to rest up some players for Tuesday's match against Morelia.

The Galaxy will face Morelia in a match that could set the club up well for the remainder of the group stage. If the Galaxy beat Morelia, they will have nine points and could be six points clear of the rest of the group of Motagua beat Alajuelense this week. The pressure would be off the Galaxy, not completely off but things would certainly be a bit less tense in Champions League.

Based on what I've seen in recent games and what Bruce Arena has shown, this is my best shot at a Galaxy Starting XI: Josh Saunders; Todd Dunivant, Omar Gonzalez, AJ De La Garza, Frankie Hejduk; Mike Magee, Landon Donovan, Chris Birchall, Sean Franklin; Adam Cristman, Robbie Keane.

That lineup would be a fresh one. Of the 11 players, five did not play on Friday - Saunders, Hejduk, Magee, Birchall, Cristman. A sixth - Keane - played 30 minutes. The rest - Donovan, Dunivant, Gonzalez, De La Garza, Franklin - are extremely fit.

Off the bench, Arena has some options for goals if it comes to it. Barrett made the trip; Cardozo and Miguel Lopez are here as well. The Galaxy are primed for a strong effort and some planning ahead on Arena's part has done the team well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Galaxy Trip Down South

There are times when covering soccer is not all that fun. Ridiculously tight deadlines, dealing with uncooperative people, dull matches... been there, done that.

But there are also times when soccer is superb. Now is one of those times.

I'm writing this post from a hotel in Morelia, Mexico, where I've traveled to for the Galaxy's Champions League match against Morelia. On Tuesday, the Galaxy will face a tough Morelia side and will try and take control of Group A.

I don't often travel for soccer. I have, but it hasn't been often. In fact, this is my first trip to Galaxy away game, unless you count the Galaxy's game against Xolos in San Diego.

It's nice here in Morelia. My parents are from the state Morelia is in, Michoacan, and I've lived here in this state on two separate occasions. But this is my first visit to Michoacan for soccer and my second time coming to Mexico for soccer (US-Mexico in 09 was the other).

Watching the Galaxy play in a place like Estadio Morelos, a stadium I've seen on TV for years, will seem a bit surreal. Already, just walking into the stadium earlier on Monday for a training session was quite an experience. I can't imagine seeing the Galaxy play in this setting.

It will be a great game and it's already been a great experience.

As for the game, well, it's garnered a lot of attention. Now some of that was on David Beckham and his first-ever trip to Mexico. That didn't happen as Beckham did not make the trip. But Landon Donovan is still very much hated here.

I wrote a story for on the topic and when it is published.

In the meantime I'm gonna soak up the atmosphere here in Morelia and enjoy this visit to a place I hold dearly.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Galaxy - Rapids: Running Blog

And down the stretch they come! As the playoffs get closer, games matter more. The LA Galaxy, leaders in the Supporters' Shield race, take on the reigning MLS Cup Champions - the Colorado Rapids. 

1 - Cardozo sizzles a shot wide - opportunistic, but off-target. 
3 - Kyle's Keys for the game don't include any inside dirt from his days as a Galaxy player. No fun, K-Mart.
5- Beckham dinks a pass forward to no one in particular. Donovan clips Mastroeni, but the freekick that ensues doesn't do much. Dunivant passes forward to Franklin - whose header on goal is easily caught by the goalkeeper. Tough for Franklin to get much on it, given that Colorado Rapids defender Earls was in his way. 
7 - Some discussion of OG as a centerback prospect. I'll lose respect for Klinsmann if he doesn't call Omar in soon. 
9 - I'm not at the stadium, in case anyone is wondering. Had a job interview today and couldn't fit a trip to the stadium in as well.  So I'm listening to J.P Dellacamera and KMart at home. 
10 - No disrespect to 9-11 intended, but the announcers seem to have forgotten about the game. The moment of silence is over, guys. 
11 - Corner kick for the Rapids. Wells Thompon takes it, loops it in, but the Galaxy clear. 
13 - Marvell Wynne cuts off a pass intended for Chad Barrett. 
15 - Rapids putting pressure on the Galaxy goal, mostly by Folan. 
16 Cardozo draws a foul from Brian Mullan. Beckham bends it to goal, but Pickens punches it out.  
18 - Cardozo looking good this match. LD a little quiet, but then he fizzes up the field and sets up Franklin, who can't quite control his shot.  
19 - Juninho from distance didn't get over the ball well, and he skies it. 
21 - LD sets up Cardozo beautifully, who fires high and wide, ignoring an open Becks a few feet away. 
22 - After breaking Steve Zakuani's leg, Brian Mullan may not get a call for the rest of the season. 
23 - Would Bob Bradley be a good coach for Santos Laguna? He would work hard, that's for sure.  
25 - Cardozo fires on target, but Pickens has time and catches it.  
26 - Dunivant with a nice low header, but Pickens comes up with a great save.
27 - Decent cross from Barrett, but no LA players connect with a shot attempt.
29 - Cardozo with a nifty near post attempt, forces Pickens to get a low hand on it and give up a corner. 
Corner comes to nothing. 
30 - Becks long pass to LD, but Wynne hangs with him and breaks it up. 
31 - Cardozo is exciting to watch - one of the young foreign hopefuls in the league that make the game fun to follow.  
33 - Lawrentowicz tees it up from outside, but the low shot is stopped by Ricketts. 
35 - LA have been a bit wasteful. Good play, but no goals to show for it.  
36 - Nice interplay of one-touch passes by the Galaxy players ends up with Franklin setting up LD, and LD doesn't waste the chance - one-timing a hard low shot past Pickens. 
37- Wynne goes it alone until he's fouled for a freekick.
38 - OG goes on a run, nearly sets up a Galaxy goal, but Cardozo underhit his cross to Barrett.
39 - Kandji comes off for Nyassi.
40 - The Rapids seem really tentative in the final third.
42 - Rapids making a late push now, though.
44 - Beckham playing far, far back - he's behind OG now.
45 - My halftime plans? Walking the dog. He's been waiting patiently.  The Galaxy earn a late corner, but the Rapids are able to hold them off.

46 - Game back on. Galaxy have been clinical in everything but the finish. Well, aside from Donovan's goal. It's a pretty slim margin over Colorado, though, considering how well LA has played. However, if there's anything the Rapids learned from their championship run last year - never, ever, give up.
48 - DeLaGarza makes a timely header to deny Nyassi a shot on goal.
49 - Becks goes down lightly from a Marshall foul.
50 - Nifty Galaxy passing goes awry when Becks overestimates Jordan's speed.
51 - LD with a poor pass. It happens.
56 - Ooh, Rapids nearly tie it up, but Thompson is offside.
57 - Cardozo with another shot on goal, but Pickens stops it.
60 - Keane coming in for Barrett. Keane gets a good cheer.
61 - Mullen's good cross is wasted. No Conor Casey available.
63 - KMart with a good observation that Becks' passes might be due to his bad back.
64 - Cardozo's wily play earns a freekick in a good spot. Becks doesn't clear the wall.
65 - Keane earns the Galaxy a corner - bounces free for another corner. Becks fires the second way over. Ugh. Cummings coming in for the Rapids.
67 - Keane called for offside. Cardozo comes off for Magee. Good night for the young guy.
68 - OG fires a long ball like Becks. That is, like Becks tonight. Too far for Franklin to catch.
70 - Rapids freekick. Galaxy clear, but the Rapids get it back and Ricketts saves from close on Cummings- oh, offside flag was up anyway.
73 - Juninho down with some injury. Mikey Stephens comes in.
75 - Keane with a neat backheel to LD whose cross is fine but cut off.
76 - Juninho's injury is apparently a left hamstring cramp.  Magee fires off an outside shot. He basically can't do anything for the rest of the season without the announcers mentioning his stint in goal.
78 - Nyassi's hopeful chip from outside drifts way wide of the Galaxy goal.
79 - Just for fun - former Galaxy players on the Rapids team: Tyrone Marshall, Brian Mullan, hm, I guess that's it.
80 - Becks is clutching at his back. Where's Jovan Kirovski? Maybe Arena doesn't want to make a late sub and just expects David to hang in there for ten minutes more.
82 - Corner kick for the Rapids. Nyassi takes it. It's a good one, but it bounces out to Mullan, and he shoots fast and high and wide.
86 - Galaxy and Becks are hanging on.
88 - Becks feeds LD from distance. Pickens makes the save. The ending of this game is picking up speed.
90 - Back and forth for a bit. A late goal is very possible.
93 - Galaxy staying cool, though, managing the game.  And the Rapids are in the Galaxy box again - but it's too late! Final whistle blows. The Galaxy clinch a playoff spot.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three Games In

It's finally over. This two-game-in-five-day stretch for the US national team has come and gone, and the team now has a full three matches under Jurgen Klinsmann.

How far along has the team come under Klinsmann? What progress has been made?

Despite the less-than-stellar record - the U.S. is 0-2-1 under Klinsmann - progress has been made. New players have come in and done well while old players have been cast aside as the team is being molded in Klinsmann's image, to his liking.

This is a process that probably would have been much better to undertake right after the World Cup but that ship sailed, so Klinsmann is doing what he can now to sort things out.

Some off-the-cusp thoughts...

Gaping Hole: The biggest area of need is at left back. Edgar Castillo and Timothy Chandler played at left back and seem to be the two frontrunners for the position. Is one the answer? Who knows, but there is hope here with both. While the favorite among US supporters is clearly Chandler, Castillo has loads to offer. Castillo is as fit as any player on the squad and can run for days. This is not something to take lightly as Klinsmann's system demands high levels of fitness. Castillo plays in Mexico with one of the biggest clubs in the Western Hemisphere, also something noteworthy. There is pressure every day to succeed with Club America. These may not seem like much but they are factors in Castillo's favor. Also, since he plays in Mexico he is very familiar with not only the Mexican style of play but the style of play the US will see throughout World Cup qualifying.

Chandler has qualities of his own and will surely get more looks in the coming matches. In Castillo and Chandler, Klinsmann has two young players who could help stabilize the position for years to come. Throw Heath Pearce in the mix and the semblance of depth in a spot that has been a gaping hole is suddenly there.

Standouts: Jose Torres and Brek Shea aren't exactly unknowns but neither was a good fit in Bob Bradley's system. Torres was most certainly a square peg in Bradley's round hole and would not have been able to work his way into a starting spot. Shea had one chance to show his worth and who knows if he would have gotten a shot to claim a spot under Bradley. Now, the two are the focal points of the midfield and are players who Klinsmann will likely rely heavily on. This is a good thing.

Torres has great vision and a dangerous foot. Shea has the ability to take over games and is an influential player. The two will have plenty of time to hone their skills but it seems as if they are locks for future rosters.

Forward Movement? Guess there's no real standout forward on the US after all? Juan Agudelo is still quite young and could develop into a star while Jozy Altidore has shown promise with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. Perhaps by the time World Cup qualifying starts these two will be more honed and will fill the nets with more regularity.

The lack of goals under Klinsmann is alarming, however. Actually, you can go back to the World Cup to realize just how poor the U.S. forwards have been. Now, I still hold firm that if Edson Buddle had played more in South Africa, things would have been different but he didn't and they're not. Nobody has replaced Charlie Davies, who burst onto the scene in 2009. Aside from his brief time as the team's forward stud, though, there hasn't been much to highlight with the unit.

Klinsmann has options though. Aside from Altidore and Agudelo, Klinsmann has Herculez Gomez who is playing well with Estudiantes Tecos and ready to help out the national team once more. Teal Bunbury is another prospect who needs some fine-tuning and perhaps some maturity to become productive. I'd also like to see Bunbury's club teammate, CJ Sapong, get a look with the national team.

Still, the biggest hope remains Altidore who if he continues to do well with AZ should hopefully translate that into success with the U.S.

Vets Still Carrying Load: For all the talk about youngsters and new players, some of the same old faces are still around doing their stuff - Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Steve Cherundolo, Tim Howard. These guys will all be older than 30 by late 2012 and who knows at what level they will be in come 2014 but they form the spine of the team both in terms of talent and leadership.

Perhaps having such a strong and talented group of players around gives Klinsmann the freedom to throw in players like Castillo and Torres and Shea to see what they can do.

Results Mean Jack: Don't be fooled by the results. No wins in three games would mean as much as three wins in three games. Of course nobody likes to lose but when it comes down to it, friendlies mean nothing. They really don't. What matters from friendlies is the chance to see players and how they perform at the next level.

Criticizing Klinsmann for lack of results right now is ludicrous. If the U.S. does not get victories come World Cup qualifying, fine, open season then but for now, results mean nothing.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

End of an Era

Grahame Jones has retired from the LA Times and sent a final email to the staff.  

I didn't have the privilege to work with Jones at the paper (the late, great Jim Murray did), but Grahame nevertheless always made me feel like a co-worker and fellow soccer writer the moment I stepped into the pressbox in 2004. He wasn't snobby like many "old media" folks who seemed to feel threatened by writers who worked for websites. Grahame knew well that it was corporate ownership that was killing newspapers. He bemoaned the Tribune ownership of the LA Times frequently, and so often predicted that he would be in the latest round of layoffs that his fellow LA soccer press friends finally stopped worrying that it would ever happen. 
Instead, we just enjoyed his wicked wit, cynical humor and encyclopedic knowledge of the game. I don't personally know of a single person who has attended more World Cup games than Grahame, and he's racked up so many experiences and can tell a number of interesting soccer stories. I really hope he writes a book on them now that he's retiring. 

Nothing was sacred to Grahame except for the sport itself - he'd take shots at over-sensitive and stuffy U.S. Soccer bureaucrats, fawning celebrity reporters who asked Beckham Tom Cruise questions, even blindly loyal fans who couldn't seem to realize the limitations of the teams they cheered for, or of the sport's actual growth versus their own optimistic conceptions. Grahame would also be the first to poke fun at himself, however. Frequently getting too lazy to trim his beard, he'd comment on his resemblance to Chuck Blazer or Father Christmas.

I admitted to Grahame once that I wanted his job as soccer writer at the Times once he retired.

"I wish they'd give you my job." He responded gloomily. "Once I'm gone, the cheap bastards at the Times now will probably never hire another writer to cover just soccer."

That's probably true.

Grahame had a knack for being right about things. I remember standing in the stadium tunnel of the HDC in 2005 after the LA Galaxy had lost their final regular-season match at home to their rivals, the San Jose Earthquakes, thereby falling to the last playoff spot. As the other reporters predicted that LA would flop similarly once the playoffs started, Grahame shook his head.

"No, what's going to happen is that the Galaxy will now win the first game of the playoffs, hold on to their advantage, win the next match away and then win MLS Cup. Landon is talented enough to drag the team through it, just as Ruiz once did. Then this incompetent coach (Grahame wasn't fond of Steve Sampson) will get to stay on for another year and really drag the team down. I'm predicting that's what will happen, right now. It'll be a mess, but they'll win the championship again."

Goodbye, Grahame. Your genius, heart and good humor will be missed. Best to you in your future plans.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Predicting The Unpredictable

On Friday, the US national team will play its first match in Southern California under Jurgen Klinsmann. It wasn't Klinsmann's idea to play this match here of course but it is a great chance for the locals to get familiar with their locally-based national team manager.

Klinsmann, who has long resided in nearby Orange County, will trot out a host of new players as the U.S. plays Costa Rica.

Wait... new players? Has the lineup been announced?

Hardly. I'm just taking a guess here. I know it's fun to try and sort out a lineup, whether you're a sports writer or a die-hard fan. You think you know what the manager should do and dammit, there's no convincing otherwise.

Well, the only thing I'm certain about the lineup we'll see on Friday is that it will be unpredictable. Probably what many think will happen won't. Probably some of the players we expect to see in the lineup won't be.

I've come to expect nothing but the unexpected from Klinsmann. Why? Because he's not like any coach the U.S. has had. It grew easier and easier to fill out Bob Bradley's lineups, and it was similarly the same with Bruce Arena. Sure, Bradley threw us an Adu-esque curve every now and then but any casual fan could guess his lineups and expect 70 percent accuracy, even in friendlies.

Klinsmann... I just don't see him as the guy who will field the same 11 match after match, at least on in friendlies and least of all now, for his second and third game as national team manager. He's going to want/need to see new players and going to want/need to see young players. The veterans he's seen but how will they mesh with each other under this new scheme?

Having said that, Klinsmann could start any player on the roster and make a valid reason why that guy should be starting. I suppose that speaks to how wide-open spots are right now. If Bradley would have started say Jose Torres or Brek Shea in the midfield, you knew they had no chance of playing with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones ahead of them in the pecking order.

There is no pecking order now. Yeah, you have Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and other strong talents on the squad (LD only for Costa Rica, Deuce only for Belgium) so those guys aren't going anywhere, but mostly there are spots up for grabs.

So predict away but just don't be disappointed if... *when* your prediction comes up wrong.

My wrong prediction...

Howard; Castillo, Bocanegra, Orozco Fiscal, Chandler; Rogers, Torres, Shea, Edu, Donovan; Altidore

I hate to use alignments as in this being a 4-5-1 because that's pretty rigid and I see this as fluid. Edu could serve in the holding midfielder role with Rogers and Donovan on the wings and Shea and Torres in the middle but I wouldn't be surprised to see all those given freedom to roam, to the point that where they go wouldn't really resemble whatever formation they came out in.

Anyway, that's what I've got. I like the backline because of the youth and versatility and overall there is a lot of youth. This is progression, folks. The kind of progression we should have seen right after the World Cup.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Klinsmann Roster, Take Two

Jurgen Klinsmann's second roster is out, and I've fired off some initial off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts here for you. First the roster which will be used for games against Costa Rica (9/2, at Home Depot Center) and Belgium (9/6 in Belgium), then my ramblings.

Bill Hamid, Tim Howard

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Zach Loyd, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Heath Pearce, Tim Ream

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Fabian Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, Jeff Larentowicz, Robbie Rogers, Brek Shea, Jose Torres

Forwards: Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Teal Bunbury, Landon Donovan

Surprising Omissions: This is a new manager of course so what went on beforehand should not necessarily be followed through by this regime. Case in point - Michael Bradley. The young Bradley was an absolute lock to start and go 90 under the previous coach but his role was lessened, other midfielders were given more responsibility and a new midfield began to sort itself out against Mexico. Now, Bradley is not part of the squad. Neither is Jermaine Jones. These are two guys who started in what will be the United States' most important game from the end of the World Cup until qualifying begins in 2012. And now they're gone.

Maybe they're not gone for good but this team is going to continue without them. The likes of Brek Shea, Jose Francisco Torres and Kyle Beckerman - each of whom did well for himself against Mexico - will continue to progress forward in the new-look midfield.

Fabian Who?: Even the most well-informed US supporter may not exactly have been clamoring for Fabian Johnson to get a call. Johnson is a German-born defender/midfielder who is all of 23 years of age. He recently said he would consider playing for the US after having played for several German youth national teams. Johnson along with Timothy Chandler and David Yeldell and Jones as well are part of a growing batch of US national team players who were born in Germany. Perhaps having Klinsmann aboard will see that figure grow. In any case, Chandler and Johnson are certainly capable of staking their claim on the squad. Johnson gets regular minutes for Hoffenheim and has a lot of upside. He's likely technically more advanced than other 23-year-olds. His biggest challenge will be adjusting to players with whom he's not played with much or at all, but Chandler did well to acclimate himself quickly and Johnson could do the same.

Defensive Stars: I've clamored for Chad Marshall and Todd Dunivant in the past and neither are here. Am I disappointed? Not really. In part because I've accepted the fact that neither could get called on by Klinsmann for whatever reason, but also because this is a good and versatile group. Left back is a spot where I thought Edgar Castillo did well against Mexico. Sure he was rough around the edges but I like the new mandate by Klinsmann in that position. Castillo may have been neutralized because a lot of Mexican players were familiar with him but I want to see him play with the same intensity against Costa Rica and Belgium. Heath Pearce is also a capable player who has done well in league this year. I'm a fan of Michael Orozco Fiscal and I can see him growing in confidence and poise with each and every game. Clarence Goodson is someone who can step in immediately and perform and in Chandler and Tim Ream there is youth and talent, although I am not sold on Ream quite yet. I'd like to see more from him but he's caught many coaches' eyes. I guess I'm just glad that we aren't getting Oguchi Onyewu time and again, whether he deserved to get a call or not.

Larento...huh?: Okay, Jeff Larentowicz may be a bit of a surprise. Now, I'm not certain he's a lock to play but I will say that he and Kyle Beckerman were in the same class a bit, standout midfielders for very good MLS teams who did not seem like national team material. Beckerman took major strides towards disproving that and now Larentowicz has the same chance. And that's all any player needs, right?, a chance.

My Ideal XI: From this group, in a game that means something...

Howard; Cherundolo, Bocanegra, Orozco Fiscal, Castillo; Beckerman, Edu, Shea, Dempsey; Donovan, Altidore.

Altidore is in fine form right now and bursting with confidence; otherwise I might be tempted to toss Dempsey and Donovan up high and throw Torres in the midfield. I'm an advocate of playing Torres and Shea together since they can create so much.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Real Influential

Remember when MLS teams couldn't buy a win in Mexico?

Way back in like 2010 and before, MLS teams did pretty bad south of the border. It was a little sad to see MLS teams go there, knowing that no matter what they did, it would not be good enough for a win. Heck, a draw would have been seen as an accomplishment.

But those days are gone. Not gone in the sense that MLS teams won't lose in Mexico or anything, but the time when Mexico meant an automatic loss for an MLS side certainly has disappeared.

FC Dallas shattered that record and Seattle brushed off the remains. Each took a 1-0 win from their respective games against Mexico, by identical 1-0 wins over Pumas and Monterrey, respectively.

Why the big change? What happened from the time when Seattle blew a 2-0 lead at Monterrey by allowing three goals in a four-minute span way back in 2010 to now when MLS teams can suddenly do no wrong in Mexico?

Real Salt Lake.

That's what happened.

RSL's run to the CONCACAF Champions League title came up excruciatingly short but the club's experience rubbed off on a lot of people. Galaxy players I spoke to about the Champions League said RSL's run made them look at the tournament in a different light, that they didn't really see the tournament before the way they see it now.

It makes sense. RSL's run was captivating and the way it ended, with RSL needing a result at home to secure a championship, made many feel as if it was going to happen. Why not? They'd gone down to Saprissa and done quite well, then pulled out a 2-2 draw at Monterrey, so a win at home was not exactly asking for too much.

It did not happen, though, but coming so close to glory probably made MLS players want to experience that for themselves. You don't know what you have until it's gone, right? So when MLS players, who probably jumped on RSL's bandwagon like so many other MLS supporters, felt the title slip away, they may have said the next time they are in position to fight for it themselves, they will do just that.

It's a mentality change that helped fuel MLS teams in Champions League. Aside from FC Dallas' historic win in Mexico, MLS clubs have done quite well for themselves thus far. No MLS team has lost and only Colorado's 1-1 draw at Honduras' Real Espana prevented the league from going a perfect 7-of-7 in CCL play.

Tonight FC Dallas and Toronto FC will meet so we may see the first MLS loss, but since it's coming against another MLS team, perhaps that's a bit of a wash.

Regardless, MLS teams now are making their push towards making their league become more influential in the region, at least on the field.

RSL helped push that door open.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Win Or Else

It's do-or-die for the LA Galaxy. It's win or else.

It may have been that way before but now that the Galaxy picked up Robbie Keane, it's definitely that way now.

Anything less than an MLS Cup victory will be a massive failure, particularly when it looks as if the Galaxy will have home-field advantage all the way through, from the first round of the playoffs to MLS Cup itself as it's at Home Depot Center this year.

What happens then if the Galaxy fall short? What if Seattle or FC Dallas or, as has been the norm the last couple of years, a team comes from out of nowhere and winds up hoisting the MLS Cup in late November?

Who would pay the price?

This team is a solid roster, from the quality that is on top with Landon Donovan, David Beckham and now Keane, to the standout younger players in Juninho and Omar Gonzalez, to the rock-solid stability found in veterans such as Todd Dunivant and Gregg Berhalter and the steady contributions from the likes of Mike Magee and Josh Saunders. This roster is talented, deep and a good mix of veterans and youth.

Can't blow up the roster, can you? Perhaps Beckham's contract situation might give the team an easy out in case of failure - change the direction of the team somewhat by getting rid of Beckham and bringing someone as influential (on the field anyway) as him.

But an even more drastic change? How about firing Bruce Arena? Is that even an option?

Management is making it clear - no excuses. Players themselves have said the same thing.

"You see how much our ownership group is willing to put into it – they’re putting all their resources behind us," Todd Dunivant said after Keane's first practice. "There are no excuses. We’ve got to go out and do our job."

The Galaxy have been close now for two years, and another close-but-no-championship-cigar would be disastrous. I picture management saying "What the hell do we need to do??" in some closed-door meeting if the Galaxy don't win MLS Cup.

Would making a change at coach be the answer?

Now, this isn't a team afraid of making such moves. Sigi Schmid was fired in 2004 with the Galaxy in first place in August. Octavio Zambrano was fired five games into the 1999 season, one year removed from having coached one of the best teams in MLS history (the Galaxy went on to reach MLS Cup 99 but lost to DC United).

There is a precedent with the Galaxy that winning teams doesn't always equate to job stability.

Arena may be different though. After all, he was able to bring some stability to what had turned into a cesspool of a club in 2008. He took the team from worst to first in one season and with him the club has been a force in MLS.

But without a championship this year, in particular this year as the game is at Home Depot Center and Beckham's in the final year of his contract, will management take their frustrations out on Arena?

While management certainly acts as if MLS Cup is a foregone conclusion now - Tim Leiweke was particularly brash and arrogant at Keane's introductory event - MLS history has shown that it's anything but. More than half of the teams in the league now will reach the playoffs and one of the teams that barely got in will certainly look to make a run. It could be Chivas, DC United, Houston or someone else who has shown massive flaws during the season yet gets hot at the right time.

The road will be a challenge no matter who is in the Galaxy's way, no matter how strong the Galaxy finish the season.

Now, I don't necessarily agree with placing the blame on Arena. He's done well to build a strong team in a relatively short amount of time. But it's clear that management expects and demands a championship this season, and not just the Supporters' Shield. Say what you will about what means more and what's more of an accomplishment but MLS Cup is the trophy ownership wants.

And if the Galaxy comes up short, who will take the fall?

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Keane Start

The LA Galaxy rolled out the red carpet for Robbie Keane as the club spared no expense for Friday's presentation/press conference. Free food, free Guinness and lots of people to see him for the first time in the flesh.

He didn't exactly disappoint on Saturday, did he?

Keane scored a goal on his debut for the Galaxy and was rather calm about it afterward. He's scored lots of goals of course and probably doesn't get too overly enthused about them at this point. Still, he did his trademark cartwheel and somersault after his goal, which was certainly a treat for LA Galaxy fans to see not only in person but also right away.

Here's a story where teammates such as Landon Donovan and David Beckham react to Keane's first match.

Now, I guess I'm not surprised he scored right away. His track record certainly suggested that that was a possibility. And with all the hoopla surrounding his arrival, perhaps he was a bit more focused than normal.

There is part of me that thinks such a goal under the circumstances he scored it in is not the greatest endorsement for the league. He had one training session and hadn't played a game in nine days, yet he comes straight into the team and puts a goal away.

I don't know, maybe that has more to do with how piss-poor the Earthquakes are right now.

Regardless, Keane goals/cartwheels/somersaults aren't something that we'll see little of at Home Depot Center this year.

But will it put them over the top? I know the initial reaction among many is to say yes, that this guarantees the Galaxy the Supporters' Shield and gives them a good chance of reaching MLS Cup. Heck, the way Tim Leiweke trotted out Keane and how brash he was with his own remarks, I'm sure he certainly thinks Keane will guarantee the Galaxy a trip to MLS Cup at worst.

The Supporters' Shield is certainly within reach. The games are becoming scarce and Seattle is the only team with a realistic chance of catching the Galaxy at this point... RSL has a long shot in doing so... but otherwise it's the Sounders in hot pursuit and that's it.

Keane, he'll help. But the playoffs, we've seen, haven't exactly favored the stronger teams.

And if Leiweke wants to guarantee his team a chance at anything, perhaps he should figure out a way to make it so the Supporters' Shield winner isn't on equal footing with some mediocre team that barely squeeked into the playoffs on day of the pursuit towards MLS Cup.

But that's another topic for another day. For now, we wait to see how Keane's body will respond to his first game, whether Arena will use him on Thursday against Alajuelense and how much he'll play then and Sunday in New York. My guess is he'll play 45 minutes against Alajuelense (starting the match on the bench) and will start and play 60-75 at New York.

No reason to burn him out right away.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

More Galaxy Reax

By the time Keane and Arena finished the post-game presser, the visitor's locker room was almost all devoid of Earthquake players. That wasn't too surprising, because in general, the losing team clears out quickly. 

The lovely Mrs. Keane was in the hallway to have a quick word with her goalscoring hubby. She was twirling a lock of blonde hair around her finger while speaking to him. I think she was a bit startled at the reporters rushing past her as if she wasn't even there. Sports media in the USA hasn't really caught onto the WAG culture of Britain, and no one tried to take a picture or ask her a question. 

In the locker room, rap music was blasting. I asked defender Omar Gonzalez about it and he told me the players take turns playing DJ for the locker room during training days, but he wasn't sure who was in charge of the tunes for gameday. He guessed goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer was responsible. 

Omar also acknowledged that he's been trying to emulate teammate Beckham with that long pass sent to Keane that Robbie couldn't quite convert. 

"I see David hit passes like that all the time, and I'm pretty confident in my ability to hit long passes from the box, too. So I thought, why not? It worked before. It almost worked again."

On the loss of Juan Pablo Angel to Chivas USA: It was hard. Juan was a great teammate with a great work ethic. That's the toughest part of this profession, but I hope it works out for him.

On the Galaxy's upcoming stretch of games: We've just got to take it one game at a time. Maybe we'll see more players in during certain games. 

On Hejduk on the backline: It doesn't matter who is back there. We trust every player. AJ, Gregg, Frankie, Sean, Bryan, they can all step in and do a great job. 

On Keane: He scored, so that's exactly what we wanted. It's great.

The scrum around Becks for quotes was scary large, so I avoided it completely, talking to Todd Dunivant instead. 

On the SJ rivalry: I think it's still alive. It's changed through the years, especially because the team didn't exist for a couple of years, but I think it's still there. You saw our fans trying to shout them down this match and that really made a good atmosphere. 

On Angel's departure: Angel will really be missed. He was a great guy, very classy player and a hard worker. We found out at halftime that he scored for Chivas USA and I really wish him the best. 

On Keane: What a way to introduce himself to the team and fans. We're really happy to have him here. 

On the red card foul on Donovan: It happened right in front of me. (Beitashour) had a chance to avoid him, and go clear over him, but he very clearly brought his foot down on Landon's knee. It was definitely intentional. I was just trying to defend my teammate.

Stats - Saunders had six saves (say that five times fast), and the Galaxy had only two shots on goal the whole match. Of course, they made goals out of both shots. Keane had three shots total. Aside from the goal, his other attempts were high and wide. 

Keane Debut Aftermath

Seems many think that Becks was juiced by Keane's addition to the squad.  
Keane has been invited to the post-game presser. Here he is now with Arena. 

"This was a hard game for us tonight. I thought San Jose was dangerous." Arena says. The coach says he thought the Galaxy looked tired at points, and it was good to get new players like Keane and Hejduk some work. "We're elated with Robbie. I think he had a great 70 minutes for us tonight."

Keane speaks. "All in all, we have to be pleased with the three points." 

Arena: He's a fit athlete and after he gets in a few games, he'll be in top shape. I wanted to give him as many minutes as I could. With this travel and time zone, it's not easy. 

Keane: When you go into a new team, it's always nice to score. When you play a few games without scoring, it can play with your mind.

On playing with David Beckham: When you play with good players, it's easy to play well. 

On what he expected of his non-famous teammates: I didn't expect anything, to be honest. As the games will go on, three or four games, I'll get to know the players better and a better understanding will make us a better team. 

On playing Henry and New York: It's a big game that I'm looking forward to, but first we have a big game on Thursday and then I'll look forward to that. 

On playing with emotion: I like to play with energy, I've always done that. I had a good night's sleep. I was delighted to get 90 minutes. 

On fans: It was fantastic. The reception I got, since I got to the airport was great. I hope I repaid them with a goal and that there's a lot more to come.

Arena: Over the next few years, I think MLS is going to attract a lot more players like Keane.

Keane, on expectations: I'll do the same I did tonight. I'm here to score goals.
On his celebration: I've been celebrating that way for 14 years. Where have you been?

Robbie Keane's Galaxy debut

So there is general consensus among the Galaxy fans I talked to that Robbie Keane is a good signing for the squad. One, however, admitted to being a disgruntled West Ham fan and said that the Galaxy would regret the move. 
There's a bit of extra pressure on Robbie tonight, perhaps, because the player moved in order for him to be signed, Juan Pablo Angel, scored tonight for Chivas USA. 
One Galaxy administrator was up here in the pressbox and commented on how he was surprised that Galaxy fans were so patient with Angel, given that he really didn't do what he'd been signed to do. 
However, Angel is just a class act. Even if he wasn't scoring, he clearly wanted to do so, and he never blamed anyone or anything for his lack of production. Taking responsibility goes a long way with fans, and I think many of them sincerely hoped Angel would bust out of the slump. 
Yet there's already some grumbling in the pressbox as well from a few of the Spanish media, with a couple of reporters exclaiming that the Keane signing (and the Angel trade) is another example of the team ignoring the Hispanic community.  We'll see soon if Keane performs in a way that wins hearts and influences people. 
LA Galaxy fans want this win over San Jose badly. The fires of the old rivalry still burn deep. The Angel City Brigade brought Smurf posters to mock the SJ fans who made the trip. 
Keane gets a good cheer from the fans in the player announcements. They want this signing to work.
The anthem has been played, and Keane posed with the squad for the team photo. They're throwing him right into the mix from the start. 
Not every seat is full in the stands, but LA fans arrive late. The grass section has been opened up for general seating, and that usually means an official sell out. 27, 000.
1 - The Galaxy have a chance right from the start, as Busch dives but can't reach a Christman shot after Juninho found him with a sweet pass. Off the post! 
3 - MacDonald with the shot, but Saunders blocks it and Hejduk is on to the rebound to clear before the much-younger Wondo can react. 
5 - Keane gets the ball to LD, who gives it right back. Keane doesn't make a total hash out of it, but neither is he able to shoot, and the Earthquakes eventually win the ball.
7 - Hejduk with a good run helps the Galaxy earn a corner.  It's not a great one by Becks - short, and the Galaxy don't get the call on last touch. Goal kick. 
9 - Keane is wearing Edson Buddle's old number. He hasn't proved he can score like Edson did for the Galaxy, though. Incidently, the scuttlebut in the pressbox is that the Galaxy tried to bring Edson back to the team, but he turned down the offer, miffed that the team had moved for Angel in the first place instead of simply paying their scoring star more money.  
12 - Wily Hejduk outhustles Khari Stephenson to the ball in the box. That's got to be embarrassing.  40 is around the corner for Frankie. 
13 - Keane with a shot! Busch saves. Although it looked like offside on the play, it wasn't because SJ played the ball back, though unintentionally via a bad rebounded pass.  
14 - Franklin with a shot as the ball bounced out to him from the corner. 
15 - Keane gets the ball in the net this time, but this time, the offside was valid and called. No goal.  Actually, it wasn't in the net, either, but the outside of it. 
16 - Corrales with a chippy foul on LD just outside the box. Freekick hits the wall. 
17 - Dunivant threads a cross in front of goal, but Cristman misses the header. Opportunity blown. 
19 - Now it's Keane's turn to miss one. Hejduk cross, Cristman whiffs on the header, which turns into a dummy pass for a surprised Keane, who still manages to connect, but it's wide by a foot. 
20 - GOAL! Keane. Franklin, no, Beckham with a long pass out of the back, which bounces perfectly for Keane to rush past the backline. Busch is discomfited running out for the ball, tries to block a shot he anticipates, but Keane plays and cool and just follows the bouncing ball past the keeper. With the goal wide open, Keane hits a sliding angled shot for the goal and celebrates with a cartwheel.  His teammates swarm over him, welcoming the new guy.
23 - Cristman is down outside the box, but doesn't get the call.
27 - Good interplay as LD to Keane, to Cristman, to LD, who shoots, and earns a corner. Corner comes to nothing, though. 
29 - Becks is having words with the ref.  
30 - Pretty lively play from both sides. SJ not laying down.  
32 - Good play gets Bobby Convey in the Galaxy box for a shot that just barely gets deflected wide. Corner is cleared.  
34 - Becks trips Convery from behind. That's one way to stop him. The freekick leads to a shot that a diving Saunders barely stops. Quakes looking good.  
36 - Galaxy corner - this one is good from Becks, but everyone misses it.  
37 - Quakes turn with a corner, but the Galaxy clear. 
38 - Wondo whiffs! How on earth did he beat Buddle out for the Golden Boot last year?
40 - Quakes just welcomed Keane to MLS with a nice crunching tackle. Howyadoing, Ireland captain? 
41 - Becks freekick gets sent right back to him, and a Quakes outlet pass finds Stephenson racing Franklin to the ball - Steph hits side netting. 
42 - Saunders nice one-handed deflect of a Baca shot. Convey takes the corner to jeers of "US Reject!" from the LA Riot Squad. 
44 - Berhalter is helpfully cluing the linesman in to Wondo's offside even before the pass is sent.  
45 - Quakes pushing hard for the tying goal before the whistle.  
They don't get it. Halftime. Keane is the 18th Galaxy player to score on his debut with the team. I remember LD doing it. Beckham's not one of the other 16, though.  
47 - Alecko Eskandarian was the last player to score on his Galaxy debut. He's retired now, poor Alecko. Too many concussions. 
49 - Corrales with a good run builds a play that forces a Saunders save.  
50 - Cristman is awkwardly earnest up front, working hard, but just hashed up a Keane pass.  
52 - During halftime, an Irish reporter here for Keane's debut said the Earthquakes seemed "disorganized". They're looking more cohesive now, causing the Galaxy problems.  
53 - Interesting. Keane passes up the chance to pass to Cristman a through pass to give the youngster a shot on goal,  waiting instead to set up a give-go for his own run. By this time, the SJ defense has set up, and Cristman gets a nasty foul on Burling fighting for the ball. 
55 - Baca gets a yellow for simulation. It's true he wasn't touched by a Galaxy player, but he also seemed to trip, not dive. Then again, he didn't exactly bounce back up.  
56 - Saunders collides with Dunivant punching out a ball. He eventually shakes off the encounter, though is seemed to involve a twisted shoulder. 
57 - Stephenson misses just wide. 
59 - Quakes with the better of play of late.  
61 - Hernandez goes over the back of Cristman, but the big blonde shakes off the foul. 
62 - A group of Quakes fans faithful keep chanting in the corner - making the Galaxy fans work to drown them out. Builds a good atmosphere. 
63 - Gonzalez booms a long pass - over the top of the defense, perfect for Keane - who shanks it over the goal. Somewhere, West Ham fans are smiling, "I told you so." 
64 - Still a great pass from Gonzales. Juergen, are you watching? 
65 - Becks gets upended by a late tackle by Convey. Free kick reaches Dunivant, who can't direct header well from an awkward position. 
68 - Hejduk trips Morrow, sees yellow for it. 
69 - Galaxy defenders clear the freekick and Saunders catches the eventual shot that the Quakes manage to build up. 
71 - Wondo is out for Simon Dawkins, Steph out for Edmundo Zura. Galaxy bring in Mike Magee for Keane, who gets a standing ovation from the fans.  Mighty Magee gets a good cheer from fans, too, who still remember his exploits in goal.
74 - Quakes with a dangerous freekick, but the Galaxy clear it.  
76 - A bit of sting has gone out of the match. Quakes are still pushing, Galaxy still holding them off, but the pattern has set in.  
77 - Saunders and Zura tangle when the goalkeeper comes out to punch the ball, but a solid Gonzalez header clears the danger. Are you watching, Jurgen? 
79 - Cristman gets a nice cheer from the fans as he exits in favor of Miguel Lopez.  Hopefully, Cristman's hard work will overcome his ineptitude. Actually, he's a fairly decent forward, but injury has stunted his development. 
82 - Ouch. LD gets cleated in the knee by Steven Beitashour. Red card. That was stupid. SJ are basically doomed now.  
85 - Although not by that crappy Magee pass. He hits it behind an open LD, who slips trying to reverse direction.  
87 - SJ corner comes to nothing.  
89 - However, a focused SJ team is passing the ball fairly well - oh, there's a Galaxy break - but Lopez can't connect on the cross for the finishing goal. Decent try, though.  
90 - Great Becks cross - and Magee directs the header wide. Yikes. 
GOAL! Then another Galaxy play builds and Franklin slides a cross across goal for Magee - and he nails it.  Magee regains hero status.  
90+ Dan Keat  comes on for Franklin, who is subbed off to a big cheer.
QUakes build up a decent chance, but Baca misses the Corrales cross. 
Fulltime! Keane is welcome in Los Angeles.