Goal 1: Stefan Ishikazi Switches to the weak side, Robbie Keane Deflects it in for Goal (37th Minute, 0-1 Galaxy)
The ball is brought up in the middle of field by Marcelo Sarvas. Chivas USA's flat back line seems organized and in good position for an offside trap.
Agustin Pelletieri and Carlos Alvarez do a good job plugging up the center of the field, and Sarvas sends the ball out to Ishikazi. At this point, the attacking right side of the field is completely flooded and Dan Gargan finds himself unmarked in vast green pastures. Thomas McNamara is caught ball watching and Gargan's clamoring for the ball.
Ishizaki sees this and switches the ball to the opposite side of the field.
As the ball switches sides, Carlos Bocanegra is forced to release himself from Keane and Keane now finds himself behind Bocanegra. Gargan's first-touch header into the box appears to be within range for Bocanegra to clear, but his "gamble jab" comes up short. Dan Kennedy has a split second to clean it up, but the ball meets Keane's body just before he can get to it and it's deflected in for a goal.
The ball is brought up the middle by Juninho and similar to the first goal, both Pelletieri and Alvarez are there to plug up the middle. The difference this time around is that Juninho finds Landon Donovan to his left for a quick give and go and Alvarez is unable to stay with the fleet-footed Juninho, who now finds himself successfully in the hole between the midfielders and defenders.
Once again, the back line remains organized to offside trap but there's a crucial decision to be made here. Does Bocanegra pressure the ball and hope AJB and Eric Avila can clean up or does he stay back and contain the attack. Wait a second, where's Eriq Zavaleta?
It turns out the high press and resulting counter caught Zavaleta manned up on Donovan during the inital give and go.
As a result of the 3-man back line being forced to backpedal and contain, Juninho's allowed more time than he needs to wait for the perfect through ball to Ishizaki. Ishizaki does a great job of feigning the shot and his tap forward causes DK to go after the ball. He sends over a nice chip shot from a difficult angle for the game's 2nd goal.
Who's to blame? I would've liked to see Alvarez do a better job staying with Juninho, but Donovan's 1 touch pass completely throws him off and immediately puts him at a disadvantage. Can't really fault Boca for being forced to cover 2 attackers. That leaves Zavaleta. Even with the high line, he decided to gamble by coming further up the field to mark Donovan, and essentially left Boca high and dry.
Goal 3: Galaxy Combo Passing in the Box, Baggio Husidic finishes (56th Minute, 0-3 Galaxy)
Keane brings the ball up on a counter and once again, Zavaleta's up way too high (you'll note at the start of the highlight, he's playing well beyond the half line). The Galaxy then play a bit of combo passing -- Keane to Donovan, Donovan sends it out wide to Sarvas.
What's interesting to note is that after sending it wide, Donovan's run into the box not only draws the defense back towards goal, but also causes Pelletieri to join them, allowing enough open space for Keane to receive the ball at the top right corner of the box. Keane responds with what appears to be an attempted give and go and his sprint into the box once again draws Pelletieri further back (you can even see Pelletieri point towards Keane to get some help there).
Donovan sees a better option. By dropping so far into the box, the defense has essentially left Husidic sitting all alone at the top of the half circle. Landon immediately feeds him the ball and Husidic knocks in goal number 3.
Who's to blame? When you figure that Chivas has that high line with a 2 goal deficit, dangerous counters like this are part of the risk of trying to get back into the game. You could say Avila could've helped out on marking Husidic, but he had another guy open on his side to keep his eye on. Besides, that would just be picky. There's lots of reactionary defense here -- waiting for the Galaxy to make a move, then reacting. In the end, it's a beautiful display of combo passing in the box for a well-earned goal.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!