Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy sure don't deserve to be at the top of Major League Soccer. Not a chance. Not after humiliating themselves 2-0 on the road at Gillette Stadium against the New England Revolution on July 10.
Then again, when you combine that with a similarly poor performance from the reserves against Seattle last Wednesday in the Open Cup quarters, it was simply a week to forget.
While it may be a stretch to say that the days of the Galaxy's reign at the top may be numbered, with second-place Real Salt Lake with a game in hand and just six points behind, LA's recent shortcomings on the road may come back to haunt them as they continue their Summer Gauntlet.
At the same time, this must to be a sign of hope for Curt Onalfo's D.C. United, the league laggards lingering near the bottom of the 2010 MLS standings.
Currently, D.C. is 15th overall and seventh in the Eastern Conference, just one point better than the expansion Philadelphia Union (although they have three games in hand over United).
They are winless in their last four league matches, two of them ending in defeat.
As for LA, Donovan Ricketts needs to snap out of his tendency to drop stinkbombs every once in a while.
Saturday's performance against New England was, without a doubt, atypical of his year so far. Ricketts currently has a 0.47 goals against average, and his save percentage dropped to 85.1 percent.
He will be feeling the heat from the ever-loyal Barra Brava, Screaming Eagles, La Norte, and the other D.C. United supporters groups at RFK Stadium.
"For me, I think I would say it's one of the original, true great soccer venues," Galaxy assistant coach Dave Sarachan said. "What makes it great is not only the physical layout but the people in that building.
"They do have a great fan base, and it resonates in there. You throw in the heat and usually the humidity and it's not an easy place to play.
"I love going in there. RFK brings back so many memories; some venues I'm not crazy about, but this one I enjoy going back to."
Sarachan was an assistant coach for D.C. United in 1997-99, and Arena coached D.C. United from 1996-1998.
"It's a great environment," Arena added. "When they have a good crowd in that stadium, it rocks. Over the years, [the pitch has] gotten beat up a little bit and it is getting [worn out after] years [of use], but when you step on the field it's still a special place for a game in MLS."
As you know, Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan have 10 goals and assists, respectively. A healthy Donovan should boost the chances for Los Angeles to get back on the winning track.
Defensively, Todd Dunivant has become the ironman of the team, playing all 1,440 league minutes so far.
It seems as if the team missed Omar Gonzalez's presence in the Revolution's defeat.
With the suspension already passed, the MLS All-Star selection will look to atone for the yellow card committed against Real Salt Lake in Sandy earlier this year.
As for D.C. United, it has been nothing short of a dismal season. Only seven players have scored for D.C. United, and four of them have managed just two goals. That's not to say D.C. do not have any threats on offense.
Adam Cristman and Wallace are the two players to watch for D.C. Cristman has chalked up two goals and an assist, while Wallace leads the team with two assists on the year.
Another player to look out for is Montenegro's very own Branko Boskovic. Boskovic made his mark as a member of Red Star Belgrade from 1999-2003 and Rapid Wien from 2007 up to this season.
This is the very first time I am actually going to call for a draw. I haven't been very pleased with the lack of form from this team as of late.
Sometimes the best teams in any league need to go through a lull before they build up steam, just like the Abney Park song.
By the way, that ragtag group of steampunk industrial musicians is from Seattle, that same city where D.C.'s midweek opponents hail from. A little trivia for you.
Let's try this result.
D.C. United 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 2
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT and will be covered by Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español.
INS & OUTS:
Four to the MLS test with the Devils
Mr. Donovan and Mr. Buddle, Mr. Rooney of the Manchester United Football Club just called. He's inviting you and several others for a test match in Houston.
Oh yes, and he also added, "Do bring Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Rickets as well." End of message. You've accepted? Splendid! I will relay the message to the guys, thank you.
Now then, as expected, Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle are called to the MLS All-Star First XI, while Omar Gonzalez and Donovan Ricketts get a look at a Manchester United side that will look to get their mojo back (as well as lick gaping English World Cup wounds) in the Premier League with this friendly on July 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
“That’s great recognition for our four All-Stars,” said Arena, who will manage the MLS All-Stars. “They’d be the first to tell you that their teammates played a vital role in their selection and I’m sure they’re indebted to the work that their teammates have given in a positive way in the first half this season. It’s a nice honor and I think we all look forward to the game against Manchester United.”
“At this time of the year, you really realize what you’ve done,” Donovan said. “When you’re in the week-to-week-to-week-to-week grind of it, you’re just focusing on the next game. Now we get an opportunity to relax a tiny bit and kind of take stock to see what we’ve done, and to have four guys representing our team is incredible in the starting lineup. It’s really special.”
This year's edition will be Donovan's 10th All-Star game. Somebody immortalize his legacy in Oneonta, please?
“It’s a great achievement, and I’m very thankful and it shows some of the hard work I did in the offseason paid off to get to this point,” Buddle said on his naming to the All-Star XI. “It means everything, to be an All-Star especially in this league is not easy. I thank the fans first of all and I just have to continue to play well and score goals.”
“I’m just extremely happy to be voted in by my peers, coaches, the fans,” Gonzalez said. “I just want to thank everyone who voted and I can’t wait to play in my first All-Star game. There are a lot of great players in this league and to be named one of the best ones is incredible, being my second year. I’m just extremely happy right now.”
“Unfortunately, the 11 couldn’t go, but I think the four who are going will represent the Galaxy,” Ricketts said. “We are going as individuals, but we’ve made it together as a team. I can’t emphasize how much the team has helped everyone this season.
"It’s an individual award, but it’s a team effort to get this step.”
If only you didn't pay tribute to Robert Green last Saturday, Big Cat from Montego Bay...tsk, tsk.
Let bygones be bygones, chief. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2 HD and TeleFutura.
Youth Academy Update
Nice try, SUSA-Everton and Lancaster Rattlers in your attempt to rewrite the script, but it's not going to work.
Speaking of which, if Lancaster's 20-0 shellacking at the hands of SUSA-Everton was intentional (and I note this because of the suspicion that there is something going on regarding this), then this author demands that the club folds and is also suspended for all they are worth.
There is no excuse for them not to show up, or even worse, CHOOSE not to show up just to give SUSA-Everton the title on goal differential.
If the Galaxy did not get the draw they needed against the Southern California Seahorses (and they did, 2-2, securing the Pacific Southern California U20M Division in the USL Super20 League), there has to be some type of inquiry as to perhaps something shady going on at UC Riverside.
I'm even going to go on a limb here and say that American Samoa's national team could beat Lancaster. The Rattlers have no business being in this competition if they can't show up ready to play.
Nonetheless, the Galaxy will do some postseason work, as they qualify for the Super-20 Finals. Congrats to the Galaxy Youth Academy Under-20's in securing the division.
The 20-team tournament (12 men’s teams, 8 women’s teams) will be hosted by the Chicago Fire at the Sportscore Complexes in Rockford, Ill. The tournament will begin Thursday, July 29 and run through Sunday, Aug. 1.