Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Specter of Beckham looms over struggling Galaxy
by Ridge Mahoney, April 20th, 2009 4:15PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

You can't blame Coach Bruce Arena, the Galaxy players, and the rest of the organization if they'd rather not talk about David Beckham.

No doubt they've got plenty of problems dealing with the here and now rather than what happens later. But rather soon that deal will come 'round.

By hard-balling Beckham and AC Milan the Galaxy, MLS and AEG have surely toughened up their image abroad and carved out the best possible economic solution. Milan has to pay more than $3 million to keep Beckham and he'll have to fork out at least that much come October to buy out his contract. And since he can't play in Europe until January, anyway, he might be persuaded to stay with the Galaxy long enough to play a friendly or two - under a revenue-sharing deal, of course -- before he heads back to Italy. In any case, his return will further disrupt a team that conclusively proved the past two seasons it doesn't deal well with changes, great or small.

Rather than deploy veteran Chris Klein at right mid in a 4-4-2 formation against San Jose last weekend, Arena used Eddie Lewis and Sean Franklin as wide midfielders in a 3-5-2 formation and while both produced promising moments of their specialties - Lewis of the left-footed bending cross, Franklin of speed and aggression - seldom did the Galaxy look anything close to a good team.

Most of the time it looked about as mediocre as the Quakes, which have their own issues in the second year after expansion, especially in light of how well conference rival Seattle has started off its expansion quest. Losers of two straight, still the Sounders are 3-2 and in second place.

Lacking the injured Edson Buddle and suspended Alan Gordon, Arena started Mike Magee and Jovan Kirovski against San Jose last weekend, and neither of them finished the match. Substitute Bryan Jordan came on a sub to head an equalizer and threaten again on a bold near-post run that left him and defender Ryan Cochrane shaking out the cobwebs from a hard collision.

On paper, Landon Donovan was listed as the attacking midfielder in the hole behind Magee and Kirovski. In effect, they occasionally switched roles, with Kirovski performing reasonably well as a target man, bringing down long balls and drawing fouls, but Magee seldom contributed to a threatening attack. Communication breakdowns between Donovan and the other two throttled a few sequences, and Donovan himself squandered a prime opportunity by trying to pass from a good shooting location inside the penalty arc.

In their nine games combined, San Jose and Los Angeles have played seven at home, and compiled just eight points. This would not be critical in MLS 2005, with expansion Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake lagging at the bottom of a weak six-team Western Conference, and a playoff slot guaranteed to the fourth-place finisher. With the ninth-best record, Los Angeles snuck into the playoffs, and rolled to the title. But that was then.

Instead, only the top two teams in each conference are guaranteed a slot, and the other four playoff berths go to teams on the basis of standings points. Yes, it's very early days, but already, Los Angeles is last and that's after playing its first three games at home.

Both Chivas USA and RSL reached the playoffs last year and at this point, look like better teams. So do the Sounders. Two weeks ago, Colorado beat the Galaxy, 3-2, at Home Depot Center, and hosts LA this weekend. And we haven't even mentioned Houston, which finally got its first win, by a narrow 1-0 margin, against the Rapids on Sunday.

Defender Gregg Berhalter should tighten up the Galaxy back line through his tough play and hectoring personality, yet he's 35. Arena can either pair him with older (38) and only marginally faster Tony Sanneh, or talented rookie Omar Gonzalez. Or he could move Franklin back to central defense and either find another right back or return Klein to that slot.

After trying Lewis at left back earlier in the season, Arena moved the U.S. veteran up into midfield against his former (1996-99) team, and gave rookie A.J. DeLaGarza a test on that side of a three-man back line; San Jose took advantage and Arena pulled AJDLG off in the 56th minute to bring on Jordan and tweak the formation again.

Defender Todd Dunivantcame into the match late for his first appearance of the season following a long injury layoff. When healthy he'll give Arena an experienced left back and the option of using Lewis primarily at left mid.

There are myriad areas in which Arena is trying to foster cohesion and communication, elements that are especially critical in a league where momentum can be hard to generate because of parity among the teams and disruptions caused by international call-ups as well as injuries and suspensions.

There's time. But with call-ups and disruptions looming in June and Beckham's arrival in July, there's not much of it. Los Angeles struggled to catch up after falling too far behind last season and despite changes on the coaching staff as well as the roster, 2009 is looking much the same.



0 comments

  1. commented on: April 21, 2009 at 10:06 a.m.
    AEG's pretensions to make the Galaxy the "flagship" team in MLS have led to this sad state of affairs. The rest of us fans in the league have watched over the past several years as bizarre management decisions have torn apart what once was one of MLS's strongest teams. It started with the sacking of Sigi Schmid for Steve Sampson and has continued since. Each move thereafter got a lot of headlines, but left many of the rest of us wondering what management was thinking. Bruce Arena, given time, should be able to turn the team around. But it's a long term project that will take years. The team must be rebuilt completely. Arena's moves to bring in veteran players seems more an attempt to get some quality to tide the team over until the rebuilding is completed. It may or may not work. But the real culprits are some of the "suits" at AEG.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Dynamo can't afford to stumble again in wake of Coyle departure    
Both former head coaches of the Houston Dynamo are natives of Scotland, and were born in ...
Il caso Giovinco: Italy's loss is MLS's gain    
Sebastian Giovinco isn't going to the Euros. Italy's loss is MLS's gain. More particularly, Toronto FC ...
Philadelphia Union embarks on its toughest stretch of games to date    
The Philadelphia Union, the Eastern Conference leader, plays in Orlando Wednesday, flies halfway across the country ...
Perry Kitchen finds a new niche in Scotland    
Perry Kitchen left MLS after five seasons though the destination turned out to be somewhat of ...
Howard leaves Everton for a much different MLS and USA    
Is the time right for Brad Guzan to take over as the U.S. No. 1? Both ...
Kamara deal shakes up stagnant Revs    
Nobody can match the production of Kei Kamara since he joined Columbus prior to the 2015 ...
Busy midweek schedules add to unique travel woes in MLS    
No MLS head coach or executive has ever praised the league's schedule-makers. Conflicts with other competitions ...
It's time for Klinsmann to go young    
At first blush, there is nothing startling about the 40-player list from which Jurgen Klinsmann will ...
NYCFC's Pirlo problem won't go away    
Jason Kreis, New York City FC's head coach for its expansion season, never came out and ...
Recent incidents sharpen focus on how video replay can improve the game    
MLS and other North American soccer leagues are awaiting specific guidelines to be issued by FIFA ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives