Monday, November 7, 2011

Galaxy advance to MLS Finals

In a sweet revenge game, the Galaxy overcame Real Salt Lake, 3-1, in the Western Conference Finals to reach their 7th MLS Cup.  RSL had beat LA two years ago on penalties to win the championship.  Looking at the Galaxy's playoff history, there has been far more heartbreak than success.

LA has only won the MLS Cup twice, 2002 and 2005, even though they've won their regular season western conference a total of 7 times, including in both the last 2 years.  In the championship game itself, they've lost 4 times ('96, '99, '01 '09).  Even with Beckham on the squad, they just hadn't been able to breakthrough.  Last year, they lost in the conference final to Dallas, just short of another MLS Cup appearance.

Now, having won the Western Conference for the 3rd consecutive year, they will be heavily favored to beat Houston in the November 20th 2011 MLS Cup and finally validate Donovan and Beckham's years with the Galaxy.

Last night, LA scored its 3 goals in an oh-so-fitting manner.  Landon drove home a decisive penalty in an ugly 1st half - much of which I couldn't see because of the poor quality of ESPN's broadcast.  Beckham, man of the match in my book, hustled up and down the field to alternately defend and create great scoring opportunities - the best of his inch-perfect crosses resulted in a easy header for Magee, placed mere feet in front of RSL's keeper.  That was the game-winner, but the emphatic victory bell was rung by Robbie Keane, who raced toward goal with 1 defender to beat, stopped on a dime, pulled the ball back behind him as the defender skidded on helplessly, then lashed the ball home far post with the air of European superiority.  Here's hoping Keane returns from his Euro Cup qualifiers injury free.

Random MLS Thoughts

- MLS Playoffs are truly ridiculous both in format and in timing.  They've packed in the first 3 complete rounds of playoffs (possibly 4 games for a single wildcard team) into a 12 day period (Oct 26 - Nov 6).  Now, there's a 14 day layoff between the conference finals and the MLS Cup (Nov 20).  Huh?

Secondly, why is the wildcard round, the conference finals and MLS Cup all single game elimination, while the conference semifinals is a 2 legged series?  Ridiculous.  I say eliminate wildcards, start with 8 teams, make all rounds 2 legged series and have a 3 game MLS Final series.  4 days rest between each game.

Or you could simply have two groups of 4 play round robin, twice.  Top two teams play the MLS Cup 3 game series.

- Dirty Rafa Marquez was there showing his true self again.  After the Red Bulls' first leg home defeat to the Galaxy, Marquez threw the ball at Landon, tried to headbutt Adam Cristman, then punched him, then faked an injury to his face and fell to the ground in fake agony.  It was the perfect summation of Marquez - hatred of players who play fair, cowardly unprovoked attack, dirty infliction of pain, then shameless simulation of injury.  What a disgrace.  Ironically, his subsequent red card enabled a solid performance by the NY defense in the 2nd leg.  He also didn't get called into Mexico's next friendly. 

US Soccer Roster Thoughts

- Klinsmann again refused to bring in new CB recruits for December camp, instead sticking with the obviously failing Orozco Fiscal.  I am no huge fan of Omar Gonzalez but it couldn't hurt to give him a runout.  Not bringing in George John, even though he's coveted by several EPL teams, continues to be a huge question mark.  The main point is simply that we were in great need of youthful blood in our defense, made obvious in the Gold Cup, and Klinsmann has really done little to improve us there.

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