It’s Only a Flesh WoundBy: DAS | March 23rd, 2012
There is a well known scene in Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail” in which King Arthur fights a black knight. As Arthur dismembers him, the black knight nonchalantly goes on boasting that there are merely flesh wounds and he will go on fighting. Bruce Arena this week has reminded me of the black knight.
As I previously posted, I had really hoped he would rest players in the RSL game and absorb a loss if needed to ensure a win over Toronto to advance in the CCL. He didn’t. Instead he played a similar starting 11 and lost both games.
In a post-game interview after the Toronto match, Arena denied that fatigue was an issue. I guess the players’ exhaustion was “merely a flesh wound.” I brought an Italian friend with me to the Toronto match. He loves futbol, but doesn’t follow MLS. He asked me why the Galaxy players weren’t running. He wanted to know if we were playing the tall, sluggish guy up front because our starting strikers were injured. It was obvious, painfully obvious, that our guys were drained and ineffective.
Of course, after the game we had the hew and cry of the commentators and fans wondering if the Galaxy just didn’t have it anymore. Some predicted gloom. Some said this was proof that without Gonzalez the team was a shambles. To me, this was all poppycock. Yes, I said poppycock.
This team didn’t really start playing together until right before the season. They have not gelled. They are not in top shape. And the coach threw them out there to play 4 games in 11 days. What did he think was going to happen?
The DC game last weekend did not signal any kind of dominance or resurgence by the Galaxy. But it did prove that this team is still the strongest collection of players in the league and still has what it takes to put up convincing wins. To me, it also proves that the performance against Toronto was not a result of some fundamental flaw in the team, but merely tired players.
Similarly, I think questions about any individual players’ effectiveness based on the last couple of matches are silly. Yes, Buddle was very disappointing against Toronto. But he hasn’t really played in months and then Arena put him in for a couple hundred minutes in the span of a week. Again, what did he think was going to happen?
I’m still obviously disturbed by Arena’s decision. But he made it, we lost it, and that’s that. Let’s not read to much more into it. We’ve still got a cup or two left to win.