So, is anybody up for some grilled Angus tri-tip this weekend? At least this Bleacher Report featured columnist is.
100 minutes of beer league football, as Mike Magee likes to say, combined with 80 minutes of Major League Soccer defined the week for Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy.
Not very often are the Galaxy able to rally back from a goal deficit and win, but after a ninth-minute strike from Chicken Thief Marvin Chavez, goals in the 32nd minute from Omar Gonzalez, the 62nd minute from Juninho and the 81st from Magee (which, some may argue, is Bradley Cooper's stage name, a la Chad Ochocinco) gave LA a badly-needed 3-1 victory over Schellas Hyndman's FC Dallas on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Arena probably figured out already that Chris Birchall and Juan Pablo Angel are two overrated posers fit for the bench. Angel did get some garbage time minutes, but it was pretty clear that the manager understood that Angel is a liability to the team.
Now do you see what happens when you listen to your fans? Cha-ching!
“We beat a good team tonight," Arena told reporters after the contest. "I think both teams were fatigued from not only a long week but a pretty busy schedule to date. It wasn’t going to be easy and I thought perhaps the difference in the game is that out team showed a lot of determination.
"They fought real hard over 90 minutes but it was something we had to do to neutralize Dallas. I thought Dallas came out and played real well and gave us a lot of trouble in the opening 20 minutes of the game.”
One gripe I did want to point out from the Galaxy's breakthrough performance against the Hoops is that the play on the wings is crisp and textbook, but the play in the middle is downright tentative. During training, I expect Arena to emphasize the need to pass better and cleaner in the midfield. Connect your passes, get your touches and feast on the confidence that comes from better communication in the midfield.
Jurgen Klinsmann may have forgotten about getting Omar Gonzalez the call-up to the friendly against Mexico this coming Wednesday. Gonzalez won just about every ball that came his direction, and because he was able to use his long frame to get a good reach, he equalized and created a number of inviting sequences for the G's.
The USA's loss will be the Galaxy's gain. Do not be surprised if Gonzalez's absence plays a key role in the States extending their losing streak against El Tri. (Yes, Tim Ream, you are on the hot seat now, son!)
David Beckham fared a little bit better tonight with the set piece slot machine. No. 23 was going to get his share of free kicks, and a couple of them found the feet of Juninho and the head of Magee (the latter off a corner).
"It’s nice to set up goals, but it’s more important that we are six points clear to be honest," Beckham told the press. "That’s something we aimed to do, and it was a good performance to night. We started off slow in the first 15 minutes. I think, we were still in Portland, but then our character came through. Then we started fighting."
Beckham now has 10 assists this season. Getting those set pieces down pat is a hallmark of championship contenders and winners of hardware.
It just makes you wonder, where was this against Portland? Pray tell.
“We’ve got the best guy hitting balls in," midfielder/defender Sean Franklin concluded. "He puts them in good spots, and our players did a good job of getting at the end of some of his crosses tonight.”
Speaking of Franklin, I don't buy into this so-called Sean Franklin Midfielder Experiment that Dr. Bruce was trying to implement, though. Doctor: Franklin is a defender first, midfielder second. Miguel Lopez is a much better option, although I will concede that Franklin held his own.
Sadly, the Doctor disagrees.
“I thought [Franklin] played well," Arena said. "I think that we have five backs that we’ve rotated during the season for a variety of reasons, mainly injuries. Those five were still able to get onto the field when we pushed Sean into the midfield. I think that’s a position Sean likes.
"His speed is a plus for us. The combination of Landon on the left and Sean on the right gives us some speed. I thought that Sean had an exceptional game tonight against a very good player. I think it’s a move we may continue to see.”
But again, Dr. Bruce: Sean Franklin is a defender—not a midfielder. Put him back in his natural position at right back ASAP.
Adam Cristman did well in his first MLS start, if my guesstimation is correct, but he has to hold the ball better. Cristman needs to improve on his tackling, find somebody in a white shirt and pass it down the wing, for starters.
In spite of an average performance, Cristman has won the starting job as a forward and will only get better as the season goes along. Now he needs to get more starting time up top with team captain Landon Donovan.
"You know, it was a factor of last year picking up another knee injury at the end of the year, and then having to go through the same process again during preseason and being traded to a new team," Cristman said after the contest. "And to show what my value is to the team. Unfortunately, it’s the second or third time I’ve had to do it.
"But for me, it’s a positive thing to know that I can work my way in. Just to be patient and I will eventually get my chance and to make the most of it. I do what I can to help the team."
"I think [Cristman] did a good job in battling and holding the ball up for us, in particular in the second half," Arena said of his performance. "Magee’s played up there before and it’s a good position for him. I think Landon [Donovan] much prefers the midfield. Mike’s a good player.
"With a player like Adam next to time, it gives him a different kind of role in terms of having the ability to pass and attack the box a little bit more. I thought they played well tonight.”
Cristman gets a great opportunity to step up his game when Honduran powerhouse Motagua say "Hola" in a little over a week to begin CONCACAF Champions League group play.
“We have a little bit of time off now before the Champions League game," Arena said of the break. "We need it. We’re a team that needs a couple of days of, get a little bit of rest, get our legs back, and get ready for what’s going to be a real difficult August, September and October for us.
"I think the little bit of the break we have right now is a real plus. I think for players like Juninho, Dunivant and others who have played a lot of minutes this year need a little time off.”
“We have our goals that we have set," Donovan explained. "The first one is winning the Supporters Shield and this was a big step in that direction. Not only that, but for the rest of the year we don’t want to play like we did on Wednesday against Portland.
"If we are going to play like that, we aren’t going to win many games. We wanted to make sure we played the right way. This was a much better performance and a step in the right direction to winning the Supporters Shield this year.”
Supporters Shield equals Champions League Preliminary Round free pass every time. Statement victories like this look better in terms of defending a trophy like the Shield.
And the home cooking that the Los Angeles Galaxy displayed on Saturday could be a sign of things to come, especially with Motagua, the San Jose Earthquakes and Alajuelense up next on the calendar.
Kickoff between Club Deportivo Motagua and the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center is scheduled for Tuesday, August 16 at 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET.
Kickoff between the Quakes and the G's at Victoria Street is scheduled for Saturday, August 20 at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET.