Calling Tim Leiweke – Cobi Jones isn’t the answer for the Galaxy, unless he can play defense.
In a country full of quality, low-priced, home grown defenders and goalkeepers, the Galaxy’s backline has been the league’s most generous, giving up eight more goals than the second worst D. First, they replace the slow, overpriced Abel Xavier at center back with Argetinian Eduardo Dominguez (price tag: $192K), then they drop a 4-0 game in Dallas before allowing the Quakes to net three goals (the first time San Jose's done that in a MLS match since re-joining the league).
I’m not surprised Lalas got the boot – I could fill a few pages with snarky remarks about the way he went about building “super clubs” in New York and LA – but Ruud Gullit was supposedly Beckham’s guy. (And didn’t I just see a promo for something called “Ruud Gullit, Soccer Legend” on Fox Soccer Channel?) I guess Tim Leiweke decided to show everyone who’s really running things down there.
It’s been fun to watch LA, from a safe distance. This year’s Galaxy should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking Designated Players are The Answer for MLS. LA has three, which is three more than half the teams in the league, but you still have to field eleven guys on game day. I like the DP rule, but without a larger salary cap overall, your side can end up looking like a pub team with a couple of ringers thrown in.
At least LA has someone worth watching. Suffering through the Toronto v Colorado match on TV the other day would remind everyone just how far this league has to go to in terms of raising the overall level of play. Chad Barrett’s free kick was nice. The rest of the game tested one’s love of the sport.
Better to turn the channel to the Olympics, where the U.S. was lucky to win against Japan, and unlucky not to win against the Netherlands. The second game serves as a lesson to you kids out there – you have to play to the final whistle. Also, I loved the candid quote from Dutch forward Gerald Sibon, who scored the equalizer: “You just blast it on goal and see where it lands." Nigeria will be a tough test, but Our Guys only need a tie to advance. It says here they can do it. (Update: Doh! A red card in the third minute?! Hitting the crossbar in the 90th?! Damn, it's tough to be a U.S. soccer fan.)
Back here at home, it’s been fun watching the newest Quakes making an immediate impact. Arturo Alvarez took all of eight minutes to re-open his San Jose scoring account, Darren Huckerby’s got the fans singing, Scott Sealy holds the ball well and works hard, and Francisco Lima’s got the midfield under control. After a series of (reasonable) gambles gone wrong (PJP, et al) it’s good to see a little luck go the Quakes way.
But the question remains: Will the Quakes make the playoffs? Speaking with the players after the LA game, the answer from the locker room seems to be “yes,” but the New England game this weekend will tell us a lot. The Revs will be without Shalrie Joseph (red card) and Michael Parkhurst (busy in China), and it’s a home game after two more weeks for the new additions to get fit and get used to their teammates. The Quakes as now constituted are a playoff caliber side, but I wonder how badly those four points dropped against Colorado and the Red Bulls (two frustrating ties at Buck Shaw that coulda/shoulda been wins) will come back to haunt ‘em come October.