The power of redemption can be a wonderful, powerful thing, especially when a city of 3.7 million people with a passion for sport are asking for production on a consistent basis.
Case in point: the Los Angeles Galaxy's Chad Barrett and Juninho.
Both players broke their slump on Saturday as they helped Bruce Arena's club to a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Gary Smith's Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
Midfielder David Beckham was unavailable due to back issues. The two Donovans—team captain/midfielder Landon Donovan and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts—were still with their national teams and will be meeting on opposite sidelines later today in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
And the Galaxy still won their first game in the month of June. Hello.
In a league like Major League Soccer, production from the depth of any team will be critical to its chances of winning some hardware at the end of the year.
They did get a little insurance from some bad luck, with Chris Birchall's cross attempt in the 25th minute finding the foot of the Rapids' Drew Moor, who proceeded to score an own goal. That's just inexcusable defending, but LA has been there. Ask Omar Gonzalez.
He and the back line of Todd Dunivant (who earned the captain's armband as a result of his Colorado roots), Sean Franklin and A.J. DeLaGarza put in a decent performance, although Gonzalez could have done better stopping Omar Cummings, who teamed up with Conor Casey to pull one back in the 64th minute.
But here's why Juninho had a solid game. Defensively, he was solid, causing havoc when the Rapids backline were trying to deliver passes to the forwards and the midfielders were creating some offensive sequences.
In the 42nd minute, the Brazilian found his scoring touch once again with a blistering shot that Matt Pickens was helpless to defense. Mechanics were solid. Juninho kept head down, and was composed when he delivered his shot. Crisp, bending, hit the top left corner.
Shamefully, he had to be subbed after Caleb Folan (also known as Brian Mullan No. 2) delivered an inexcusable challenge on Juninho. while he did try to get the ball, the Rapids forward got the player and was rightfully sent off.
Naturally, it wouldn't take long before the Galaxy made Colorado pay for that brain explosion in the 80th minute. Birchall found Barrett inside the box, and Pickens chomped at the bit before the former Toronto FC forward scored his fourth of the season.
For all of the finishing woes he has suffered the past several matches, on Saturday Barrett got his reprieve. All bad things must come to an end, just like all good things must as well. You can only hope that he makes this a habit for once.
All in all, redemption came calling for Juninho and Chad Barrett on Saturday. Can they make it a habit when they face the San Jose Earthquakes.
In their bid for revenge, they can rest assure that Beckham and one of the Donovans will be back in action. Two out of three ain't bad. So the saying goes.
Kickoff between the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif. is scheduled for Saturday, June 25 at 3:30 p.m. PT/6:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
INS AND OUTS
U.S. Open Cup Action
The Los Angeles Galaxy will return to U.S. Open Cup action with the third round proper on Tuesday, June 28 at Titan Stadium on the campus of California State University, Fullerton.
The Galaxy will take on either the Los Angeles Blues of USL PRO or the Ventura Country Fusion of the USL Premier Development League.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET. A preview of the match will be posted on the View from Victoria Street and Bleacher Report.