Galaxy vs DC United PreviewBy: NathanHJ | July 18th, 2010
The Galaxy head to RFK stadium to face DC United in the first game of a very congested stretch for the league-leaders. Starting today they play six games in 20 days including three league fixtures (United, San Jose, and Chicago), two CONCACAF Champions League matches (home and home to Puerto Rico Islanders), and an international friendly against some La Liga team.
So this is when roster depth comes into play. Today’s game will be played under hot and muggy conditions against a United team that is starting to find some equilibrium after a shaky start. Most of the rest of the games will be played in home venues (if you count the Galaxy’s old home The Rose Bowl to be a home venue when it will be packed to the rim with fans of Euro footie rooting for Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s old favorite), which is a boon to the team. Because, quite frankly, that vaunted depth failed to show anything exceptional in the last two games when, arguably, it should be making its quality known. The US Open Cup match against the Seattle Sounders was ugly and frustrating and showed a team with no offensive imagination whatsoever. And, well, I still think last week’s debacle against the Revolution was a complete embarrassment.
So the team needs to capitalize on the lessons it was taught last week: anyone can beat you when they want it more than you, the midfield needs to adjust to wide play if the middle channels are clogged, and the Galaxy plays best when it plays a short, crisp passing game through the midfield that connects the stingy defense to what can be an explosive attack.
United isn’t going to make this easy. While they don’t have Shalrie Joseph or Kyle Beckerman to break-up midfield play and launch offensive counter-strikes, they do have Clyde Simms, one of the league’s most underrated defensive midfileders, and quality talent in second-year man Chris Pontius and veteran Santino Quaranta. They also recently boosted their attack by signing Montenegran Branko Boskovic as a DP and bringing in Pablo Hernandez. This puts a lot of pressure on Juninho and Michael Stephens to deliver the goods in a way that they simply didn’t last week. I put Stephens’ picture above because he’s the wild card in the middle for today. He didn’t have a particularly bad game last week, not like the shocker that Alex Cazumba had or the disappointment that Juninho yeilded, but with Landon Donovan expected to be back and Juninho (hoipefully) properly movtivated to atone for last week, this gives Stephens the opportunity to be dangerous going forward (since we know he’ll always hustle back on defense), linking with the attack to create opportunities for Donovan, Edson Buddle, and Tristan Bowen.
The Galaxy defense, which was uncharacteristically soft last week as well – I think that Leonardo and Gregg Berhalter did a bad job communicating and Donovan Ricketts let in two balls he normally saves – needs to watch out for Jaime Moreno, the league’s goal-scoring leader and a veteran with guile and wiles to spare, and first-year sensation Andy Najar. The United Academy product has been burning up opposing defenses with his speed, intelligent runs, and creating passing. Getting Gonzalez back will help damp down the United crossing game and give Todd Dunivant, who was exposed repeatedly last week by Sanni Nyassi’s speed, cover when defending Najar.
Overall, though, United is just not as good as the Galaxy. If the Galaxy can adjust to the on-the-field conditions, learn their lessons from last game, and play their way, rather than getting sucked into the game United wants to play, then they should win 2-0. If they fail to do so, it will be another long and frustrating game for Galaxy fans and will likely result in a 1-0 defeat.
I’ll be making remarks throughout the game on my Twitter feed. You can find me here: @nathanhjb
You can watch the game on FSC at 4:30 PDT and if you are in LA, the official LA Galaxy watch party is at Locals sports bar at 5047 West Pico Boulevard.
The lineup I’d like to see:
Buddle – Bowen
Stephens – Juninho – Birchall – Donovan
Dunivant – Berhalter – Gonzalez – Franklin
What about you guys? Who’s going to win and why? What do the Galaxy need to do to ensure three points? Who do you want to see start? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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