In last year's final meeting between the Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy, the lights went out for what seemed to be forever—30 minutes, to be exact.
While Gregg Berhalter and Landon Donovan paced the Galaxy late in extra time to a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo, one can only hope that the lighting problem will not be an issue on Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
“It’s a huge win for us to get it on the road against an undefeated team,” Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens told MLSsoccer.com after their 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew. “They’re not in our conference but it’s still a very important win for us and it keeps us unbeaten... so it’s a good thing to get the win.”
Los Angeles are the only team unbeaten in Major League Soccer, with a 9-0-2 record. The Galaxy are nine points clear of the Crew for the overall lead (in spite of the Crew having two games in hand) and 10 clear of Real Salt Lake for the top spot in the MLS Western Conference standings.
As always, the defense has been critical to LA's torrid run in their 2010 Major League Soccer campaign.
“We didn’t necessarily talk about that,” Stephens said. “We’re a good defensive team and in games where we do get early goals we’ve shown we can hold onto those leads. It was great to get an early goal and top it off with another one late in the game.”
The Houston Dynamo are reeling from a 3-2 defeat to the Philadelphia Independence at Robertson Stadium last Saturday. And swing-man Brian Ching is looking for answers.
“This year, being 5-5, a lot of teams would probably take that, but with the history we’ve had, we are all embarrassed here,” Ching said after their loss to the Union. “I’m just frustrated. I shake my head at it. The energy level is not good enough.”
Whereas for the Galaxy, the energy has been more consistent, and it looks to intensify on Saturday.
“We’re a tough team to play against. The goals will come and we’ll be able to win games,” Stephens said. ”It’s more of a team thing than just losing (Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle to national team duty).
"Obviously they are two of our best players and produce a lot of goals but other guys are stepping up.”
“It’s all about wins here and the trophy at the end of the year,” Ching said on his team's prospects. “At this point in the season, [Houston] are looking like a team that won’t be competing for that trophy. It is up to us to turn things around.”
Brad Davis continues to lead the Dynamo with three goals and six assists. Dominic Oduro has contributed with two goals and three assists, and Brian Mullan is another deadly finisher. Look for the likes of Luis Landin, Eddie Robinson, and Mike Chabala to get involved in the action with some touches on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Pat Onstad has made 25 saves in 10 appearances for a 1.3 goals against average. His counterpart, Donovan Ricketts, has made 30 saves in 10 appearances for a 0.2 GAA.
Of all the Galaxy forwards that have played so far this season, Bryan Jordan is the only one that has yet to open his account. Nearly half of LA's players, save for the goalkeepers, have at least one to their record.
Tristan Bowen and Michael Stephens have proved to be a deadly combination. You could mistake them for a younger Buddlevan Connection. We'll call this the SteBo Special.
However, I like seeing another of the Galaxy players finish here, too. Look for the defense to do the work, and the midfielders to improve on their pass patterns. The electricity will be on tonight in the HDC, and so will the players.
Los Angeles Galaxy 3, Houston Dynamo 0
The match will be televised at 5 p.m. (PT) on Galavision in Spanish and can be seen on tape delay at 10 p.m. on Fox Sports West in English.
Ins and Outs:
Mr. Beckham meets the troops
David Beckham was on assignment over the Memorial Day weekend to visit a number of American troops stationed in Afghanistan. The First Marines Logistics Group gave Beckham a rousing welcome as he signed autographs, posed for photos, and met with the Wounded Warriors who were recovering from their scars in combat.
“I am a huge soccer fan," said Sgt. Tim Blodgett of North Carolina, "and meeting Beckham is a once in a lifetime experience for me.”
Chief Warrant Officer Vincent Endresen added, “This visit has been a tremendous morale boost for us and it shows Mr. Beckham genuinely cares about what is going on here and understands what we are trying to achieve.”
Memo, Mr. President: Give Mr. Beckham dual citizenship ASAP.
Youth Academy update
The Los Angeles Galaxy Youth Academy were on hand to showcase their talent in front of the masses at the Sarasota Polo Club over the weekend. They came away with four victories and two draws. Not bad.
On Friday, May 28, the Galaxy tied CASL Chelsea FC Academy 2-2. They followed that up with a 1-0 victory over NJSA 04's U-16 side on Sunday before wrapping their showcase with a 2-0 victory against Scott Gallagher Metro of St. Louis.
As for the U-18s, they also tied CASL Chelsea FC Academy 2-2 and followed the draw up with a 2-0 shutout of NJSA 04 and a 4-0 hammering of Scott Gallagher Metro.
The Galaxy Youth Academy wrap up their 2009-10 campaign with a June 5 contest against Arsenal FC. Kickoff for the U-16 contests is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., while the U-18 contest is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. Both matches will be held at the John Blanche Memorial Soccer Complex in Murrieta.
From Los Angeles
I-15 South. Exit Winchester Road. Turn right (West). Turn Right (North) on Diaz Road. John Blanche Memorial Soccer Complex is located at the end of Diaz Road.
From San Diego
I-15 North. Exit Winchester Road. Turn left (West). Turn Right (North) on Diaz Road. John Blanche Memorial Soccer Complex is located at the end of Diaz Road.
The U-18s are currently fourth on the U-17/18 West Conference SoCal Division table with a 8-4-2 record. As for the U-16s, they sit sixth on the U-15/16 West Conference SoCal Division table with a 5-5-4 record.