The Los Angeles Galaxy are just two games into the young 2010 Major League Soccer season, and already I will take the great leap of faith in throwing down the gauntlet and declaring 2010 to be the long-awaited Second Coming of Edson Buddle.
No, I'm not talking about the Edson Buddle who scored a measly five goals last season. He can even that total with a brace against the Houston Dynamo on April 10. I'm talking about the Edson Buddle who tallied 15 goals two seasons ago.
If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. In an identical situation similar to Saturday's chance against the New England Revolution involving Alex Cazumba, Buddle made no mistake in finishing on a Landon Donovan through ball inside the box, slotting his third of the season past the Chivas USA goalkeeper to continue LA's dominance over its cross-stadium rivals 2-0 before 19,000-plus at the Home Depot Center.
It was textbook placement and finishing. When Buddle is hot with his scoring touch, it takes a lot of steam off Donovan to be LA's bailout package. Landon facilitates, Edson finishes. Landon facilitates again, Edson finishes again. Repeat as necessary.
"I feel good," said Buddle after the match. "My teammates are doing a good job of finding me, and I’m able to finish them off."
"Edson was fantastic," Donovan said on Buddle's form. "He’s being rewarded for a lot of hard work. He was in here all the off season working hard to get himself ready for the season."
Tell you what: I got an offer here for you readers on Bleacher Report you can't refuse. At no cost, we will call this combo The Buddlevan Connection.
How's that? It sounds a bit bumbly compared to the more masculine-sounding David Beckham + Donovan combo known as The Beckovan Connection, but if it works, who's to say it is bumbly?
Whether or not The Buddlevan Connection leads to a World Cup appearance for the No. 14 remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
Some more ins and outs from Thursday night's affair:
- If Kheli Dube was the goat Saturday, Maicon Santos will be the goat of the Goats Thursday. Maicon not only had one, but two chances to score. On the first opportunity that came in the 80th minute, Donovan Ricketts was beat...and he butchered what should have been an easy shot from the spot-actually it was closer than that-high and well into the Angel City Brigade end. Total head scratcher. Even the people in the press box thought that was going to be the equalizer for Chivas USA.
- That leads us to the second chance for Maicon. The lesson here to take if you belong to a supporters club that it is never a good idea to jump the gun. The supporters from Legion 1908 may need to consider getting some glassed after Maicon's second attempt in the 86th minute hit the side netting. Streamers and confetti were raining down on the Northwest corner, thinking that it was 1-1.
Perhaps one of the supporters expressing his disgust on the ESPN2 broadcast may have been wondering why his sightlines was better that those sitting in section 117. It's a thing that makes you go "Hmmm..."
- As expected of a derby like this, the action was physical, the words were exchanged, and confrontation staredowns were in order. This is no scripted activity on the pitch, mind. The fans were lapping up every minute of the competitiveness...even though there were less that 20,000 on hand to witness it.
"Our competitiveness was very good," Donovan said on the intensity. "Whether you play well in these games as a team doesn’t really matter, you have to be able to compete and I think we out-competed them.
"We outworked them, we outran them, and that's why we won."
In spite of it, Los Angeles paid the price with four yellow cards. Umana got the only yellow for Chivas USA.
- For the Galaxy, this was a vast improvement from Saturday's contest with New England. The passing was more crisp at times, the defense clamped down in the middle and back thirds, and finishing was better, though there were still some chances that got wasted in the front third. Even though Chivas had the lions' share of the possession, the Galaxy midfield and defense made Osael Romero and Maykel Galindo non-factors.
Of course, it doesn't hurt to have Donovan Ricketts make stops after injuring his hip in the first half and preserve his second shutout of the season. His best effort came in the 64th minute, with a diving save of a volley by Jesus Padilla.
Still, Galaxy manager Bruce Arena had his doubts about his work in progress.
“I don’t think we were sharp on the ball," Arena said. "It was challenging for us.
"It’s a good start, but we certainly realize we need to get better in all areas.”
The Galaxy will get a chance to do just that at Robertson Stadium on April 10 against Houston.