For Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy, the issue regarding the void that Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle will leave heading into the rest of May, June, and early July became an even bigger priority. And for good reason.
How could the leaders of Major League Soccer—whose margin on overall- and MLS Western Conference-second place Real Salt Lake shrank to seven points—botch a sendoff for the team's two best players at the Home Depot Center?
Simple. Fail to finish.
And let me tell you something. If Finishing 101 were a college course, they'd have to withdraw and retake it. Credit to Toronto FC for holding firm with their defending. Nonetheless, Los Angeles needed to put this game away.
They had to. They did.
Even from the press box it was hard to fathom that the Los Angeles Galaxy could not even get what normally would be a simple tap-in past Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei. In fact, I can name one, two, three...still counting my fingers here...10 chances—all in the second half—that didn't go through.
And look at the outcomes. Frei with a save. Well over the crossbar. Another save by Frei. Wide left. Yet another Frei save. Crossbar by Donovan. Another shot wide left. A shot wide right. There were 10 opportunities—well, at least 10—for Los Angeles to get three points past Toronto.
To only settle for one point each has to be something Schellas Hyndman will be grinning at. Let the Galaxy pay the price for their inability to capitalize on their chances inside their attacking third and use out patience to come up with a deciding goal in the second half.
TFC nearly pulled it off.
In the 72nd minute, Chad Barrett nearly tore the hearts out of the Galaxy supporters with what must go down as the best chance of the night for Preki's Reds.
Saturday's performance go down as a moral victory for Toronto. But for the Galaxy, this must be an area of concern. If the US National Team exceed even the expectations of the football gods, as many as six the Galaxy's next matches on the schedule (four of which will be on the road) will be with the services of Donovan and Buddle. And that's if they both make the shortlist.
This is why the depth of the Galaxy will be tested more than ever when they travel to Frisco's Pizza Hut Park and Columbus Crew Stadium. Can someone step up and finish? Or will the inept form that dominated a majority of the Galaxy's season before their late run to make the playoffs return?
Saturday night's display of sheer scoring ineptitude by the Los Angeles Galaxy against the Toronto Football Club at Victoria Street begs the question loud and clear.
Ins and Outs:
With every scoreless draw there are positives. Here are some that I can detect.
The most obvious one...the Galaxy held Toronto FC scoreless. The not-so-obvious one (until you do the logic)...the Galaxy held Dwayne De Rosario scoreless.
Toronto FC were down to 10 men by the end of the match after Maksim Usanov earned two yellows and was sent off. The Galaxy were relentless in their drive to bring home the winner, with 15 shots. No offsides were called on LA. A tribute to Greg Berhalter's leadership in the back.
Donovan Ricketts is a seeder. That's someone who snacks on sunflower seeds. According to DAVID, a major player in this market, "Seeders are cool, calm, and confident."
And of course, the few, the proud, the Marines Drum and Bugle Corps were on hand. Who would ever think that Jazzxercise would put on a show of their own, too? Not this columnist.
And with every scoreless draw there are negatives.
The most obvious one...the Galaxy were also held scoreless. The reason behind the most obvious one...poor shooting. Fifteen volleys, and not a single one of them passed the end line inside the nylon.
Donovan Ricketts was a little too overcommitted in practice, suffering a right hyperextended elbow. Let that be a lesson to know your limits, Big Cat...
The would-be present in the 72nd minute for Barrett on the Toronto FC transition. Would have been top of this list if it had gone through. Omar Gonzalez, what was up with that yellow, pray tell?
So the Galaxy first side managed a draw, right? Leave it to the Youth Academy U-16 and U-18 teams to bring home a win and a loss. The U-16 team, the stronger of the two, shut out Chivas USA 4-0. The U-18 team, however, was not so productive, and lost 3-2.
Now the U-16 side is so good, that a number of its players also play in the U-18 team. By themselves, they scored victories over West Ham and Ipswich Town in their England tour against a defeat to Blackburn Rovers.
I can now understand why the U-18 side were just awaful against Chivas USA. In their April tour across the pond, they gave up two unanswered goals against Manchester City, were shut out 5-0 by West Ham, and secured just a 2-2 draw with Ipswich (who aren't even a Premier League side). Some recruiting may be in order.
As a result for their effort, they were rewarded with a trip to Wembley to watch Chelsea shut out Aston Villa 3-0 in the FA Cup Semifinals. At least they were spared the imminent dishonor of being disemboweled by the Chelsea youth.
Speaking of Chelsea...
Blue is the Color...and other news from the Home Countries
I would like to personally extend my humble congratulations to the Chelsea Football Club on earning what most people will call "The Double" of winning the Premier League and the FA Cup (1-0 shutout of Portsmouth), but also "The Treble" if you count their penalty shootout win over Manchester United. The rematch of that in the 2010 Community Shield is later in August.
The other home country to see a club earn a double is the Linfield Football and Athletic Club of Belfast. They defeated Portadown 2-1 to earn the Irish Cup to go with their IFA Premiership trophy.
Other kudos go out to The New Saints (Welsh Premier League), Bangor City (Welsh Cup), Dundee United (Scottish Cup) and Rangers FC (Scottish Premier League). Well done, you lot.
Underprepared FO for the Campero Rush!?
Well this can't go unpunished. At least one person close to the Galaxy front office forgot to tell them that there were over 20,000 expected attendees today. Fess up. As a result, instead of Pollo Campero coupons because of the clean sheet...people got tickets to Wild Rivers water park in Irvine.
Now, I have nothing against Irvine, and I know that UC Irvine just about will wrap up a successful Black and Blue Rivalry Series defense against Long Beach State (the 49ers are not having a good year to begin with) given that their baseball team seals the deal at Blair Field, but....Wild Rivers?
They might as well do the right thing and scrap the promotion if the fans are going to be shafted. You heard of Homer Simpson asking for where his burrito is? Well, the fans unlucky enough to get Wild Rivers tickets will chant "Where's Our Campero? Where's Our Campero?" until the owed tickets are dished out in full. As they should.