Getting ready for the first edition of the 2012 superclasico? We are over here at The Goat Parade. Chivas USA are set to host the LA Galaxy Saturday evening in their shared home stadium, and it should be a cracking atmosphere. Both teams are coming into the match following a 1-1 draw, and both clubs are pretty disappointed by their early season form. In order to get you caught up on the attitudes surrounding the Galaxy, I talked to Josie Becker, of the SB Nation Galaxy blog LAG Confidential. Thanks very much to Josie for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks LAG Confidential:
1. It seems the Galaxy are definitely suffering a post-MLS Cup hangover so far this season. Aside from the absence of defender Omar Gonzalez to injury, what accounts for the struggles in 2012?
1. Bruce Arena mentioned in a recent interview that he's aware of what the problem is. In fact, the quote is worth looking at in toto:
"I can give you that answer at the end of the year," he said. "I have a lot of understanding why our issues to date have been what they are, but that’s not anything I will make public right now. I have a very good sense why."
Now that is one heck of a quote. Simultaneously cryptic and informative. Arena knows what the problem is, but won't make it public. He's already made moves to shore up the defense, so it's not like that's a gigantic secret. And most MLS teams would kill to have the offensive talent the Galaxy have. What would make the most sense is that there's a locker room issue, or injuries, that he doesn't want to air out in public.
I'm not sure how productive speculation would be. What is clear is that the Galaxy's three DPs are all about to face a much bigger challenge. David Beckham has his Olympic responsibilities, Landon Donovan has World Cup Qualifying, and Robbie Keane has the UEFA European Championship. All of them will miss time with the team for these respective tournaments. Perhaps the team will rally with their stars gone. Perhaps the Galaxy are going to have to hope for one heck of an end of summer run to avoid missing the playoffs.
It certainly is interesting, that's for sure. Some great popcorn theater.
2. Despite the narrative that is focusing on the Galaxy's shortcomings so far this year, who has performed well? Anybody slipping under the radar?
Someone must be performing well. Just have to think hard. A.J. DeLaGarza has performed well as the defense has come together in the last few weeks. He still shows some inexperience in running a back line. However, he's probably the best looking athlete on the pitch. He can run with just about anyone. And he hasn't had an easy time of it being partnered with a carousel of center backs as the Galaxy look for a patch to the problem.
It seems like everyone's had bright spots, but with a lot of dark spots to go with them. Robbie Keane leads the team in goals, but outside of his brace his finishing has been lacking. David Beckham has peppered the box more attacks than the Blitz, except the Galaxy don't have the height to get on the end of them.
I don't wish to sound like Eeyore about the Galaxy, I truly don't. But at this point it sure feels like the defense isn't shutting anybody down, the offense isn't scoring as many goals as they could, there's controversy at keeper. But hey, at least the team isn't in last place.
3. First choice goalkeeper Josh Saunders is currently away from the team while he deals with personal issues. Who is starting in Saunders' place, and how is he doing?
Well, Brian Perk is the no. 2 keeper, but he was recovering from sports hernia surgery when Josh Saunders had to excuse himself from the team. So Bill Gaudette had to start the 2-0 loss to Seattle and the 0-1 loss to New York. Now Perk is back, starting the match against Vancouver. At this point, it's expected that the Galaxy will give up a goal, and it's typically been the result of a defensive miscue. Which is the other side of this whole Chernobyl, not only has DeLaGarza had to go through a rotation of partners, but this is the third keeper now barking instructions to the back line. Every player is going to see the match differently, so just getting players on cue is a difficulty. Now this week, the Galaxy had to practice Monday in DC, then Tuesday and Wednesday were a bit lost, and now there's two practice days to try and get everything sorted.
So it'll likely be Perk in goal on Saturday, and the only match we've seen him in was in another country, indoors, on turf. Not much to go on.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for the match?
2-1 Galaxy, Landon Donovan brace.
To see my answers to Josie's questions about Chivas, go take a look at her companion article over at LAG Confidential!(Psst: You can see which team Mayor Villaraigosa roots for - the answer may surprise you)
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