Josh Saunders, LA Galaxy Young Guns Pass Tango Lesson With Boca Juniors

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IMay 24, 2010

There's no denying that it takes two to tango. But there should also be no denying that it takes one clinical goal and one stingy backup goalkeeper to shut down Club Atletico Boca Juniors.

Playing without its best players, due to World Cup 2010 commitments, Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy took advantage and brought home a scintillating 1-0 victory over the 31-time Argentine Primera Division and six-time Copa Libertadores winners—who had a similarly watered-down roster.

In the 82nd minute, Los Xeneizes's defense paid dearly for giving too much space when rookie Michael Stephens delivered the ball inside to Tristan Bowen, who opened his scoring account for the season.

The biggest star of the night, arguably, was backup goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Making a head-shaking 13 saves compared to two for Boca's counterpart Javier Garcia. Saunders frustrated Boca's vaunted attack, led by Lucas Viatri (six shots), Matias Gimenez (three shots on goal), and substitute Sergio Araujo (four shots).

Garcia, however, is as cheeky as they come.

“Our style is superior,” García said. “We played a better game, created far more chances while they only had their one. They didn’t look to take control of the ball.”

In your defense, Javier, you do have a point. After all, Boca—with 24 shots, 13 on goal and nine corners—had every chance to put the game away early and often.

It doesn't matter if you create a chance to score every minute or every second. When you let a backup goalkeeper upstage one of South America's most beloved clubs, it has to be a disappointment.

As for you, Javier, it's a travesty that you were not man enough to admit it.

“For an international team that’s as world-renowned as Boca is, to beat them is great for us,” Saunders said. “It’s middle of the season and a lot of the players haven’t necessarily played a lot got to play tonight and we got a result out of it.”

To put things in perspective, it's akin to Long Beach State's victory over UCLA in college basketball this past season. A win by a low-profile team over a high-profile team that has won major hardware does not happen often. Today, it did.

At the same time, this performance might be problematic.

Here's why: Saunders' effort must land him at least a trial with the Galaxy's first team. With or without the likes of Juan Roman Riquelme, Martin Palermo, Federico Insua, and those players, a shutout over Boca Juniors is a shutout over Boca Juniors. No matter who is on the team, if they are wearing the blue jersey with the horizontal gold back and you shut them out, it's a big deal.

And you don't lay a shutout on Boca Juniors without gaining the attention of the first team manager. Though he's making plans for the upcoming Apertura back on Brandsen Street, surely Claudio Borghi must be thinking about giving Saunders at least a trial run at keeper. The Galaxy could be losing this guy due to this performance.

Now I am not Orson Welles. I am not preaching the "End of the World as We Know It" (wait, that's REM, whoops), but this must go down as Saunders's best game of the season. Imagine how he will do when it's the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, or if he gets the start against one of his old clubs, the Puerto Rico Islanders.

Can you say "the best is yet to come?" Frank Sinatra did.

A number of teams had been trouncing Boca Juniors this past season, and the goal by Bowen might explain why.

Los Xeneizes were the prisoners of giving up space in their own defensive third. It just takes one well drawn-up passing sequence (in this case by Mike Magee to Stephens to Bowen) to sink a line-up like this.

“We fought for 90 minutes and we got a goal right at the end," Bowen said after the match. "[Defender] Sean [Franklin] played a ball to me and I brought it down. I turned and played a ball to Mike and just continued to run into the ball and Mike Magee played a ball across. [Stephens] dummied it and all I had to do was put it in the net.”

For Arena, the victory did not come from the saves or the Bowen goal. It was the fitness.

“This is an exhibition we didn’t need, in all honesty,” Arena said after the match. “We have a bunch of injuries and some fatigue. To get through this without an injury was good.”

True that they had some knocks, Bruce, but they got up and were able to walk when subbed. And again, a win over Boca is a win over Boca, and a win over Boca is a big deal. A tango lesson that the G's passed with flying blue, gold, and white colors is a huge momentum booster heading to the next match.

This leads us to our...


Next Mission: Into the Massive Zone

Guillermo Barros Schelotto was a former member of Boca Juniors. He made 211 appearances, scoring 65 goals and lifting 14 titles for the club. Now a member of the Columbus Crew, his team faces a difficult mission: a match with the league leaders who shut out his former club.

The Galaxy's May 29 match with the Columbus Crew is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT at the Crew Stadium.

Atencion, Atencion: Please step forward if you sent the Keystone Kops...

One of the most questionable set pieces was by Clint Mathis in the 14th minute. After Boca captain Hugo Ibarra was booked by match official Elias Bazakos, Mathis tried to be flashy in his set piece, and instead butchered a shot high and wide towards the Angel City Brigade section.

Even though this was a friendly, one would think that a player on the Galaxy U-18 side would have performed a much better shot from that angle. Good thing he fixed it at approximately the same spot 15 minutes later forcing a diving two-fisted punch out by Garcia.

So long Rosario, hello..."El Albo"!?

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Rosario Central, a club that may not be as well-known as Boca or River Plate but still has a strong fanbase, has been relegated to the Nacional B.

Have you heard of this club: Club Atletico All Boys? Me neither. Some of you may have heard of Newell's Old Boys...but Club Atletico All Boys?

I suppose that's what happens when you spend three decades in the wilderness of the leagues below La Primera Division de Argentina. But on Sunday, the wait ended with a 3-0 victory over Los Canallas at the Estadio Gigante de Arroyito. All Boys finished all clear with a 4-1 aggregate win.

Good things come to those who wait. And now, Los Albos get the chance to renew their rivalry with Clausura 2010 champions Argentinos Juniors—the club in which a certain man by the name of Diego Maradona made his debut and mark.

As for Rosario Central, after their loss to All Boys, I just have this to say: "No soup for you!"


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