Sunday, May 11, 2008


Saturday night saw the LA Galaxy host the NY Soft Drinks in a nearly sold-out stadium. NY's chief threats were Joze Altidore and Juan-Pablo Angel, who proved too much for the hapless Galaxy centerbacks.

David Beckham had an off night, and when he is playing poorly, Landon Donovan does not get the service he needs and our whole system crumbles. To me it looked like about only 25% of Beckham's passes and crosses found their targets.

Alan Gordon, Joey Franchino, Chris Klein and Mike Randolph all had good games, but none of them had a great game. The rest of the team was poor. Too often in the telling moment they just did not produce the quality or the magic.

Twice Donovan was played into the area and he shows absolutely no ability to juke a defender. He doesn't drop a shoulder, drag the ball to create space, attempt a feint - nothing. He runs straight and either blasts the ball off the defender or has the ball stripped off him.

Randolph, now as a midfielder, got forward in support often, but was unable to beat his man 1 v 1, and that seems to be a big problem for the Galaxy. After our 6th or 7th match, here are the Galaxy's main deficiencies as I see them:

1. Beckham or nobody. As Becks is our playmaker, if he is not doing it, it's not getting done.
2. Coach Gullitt's "flowing football" evidently leaves out short, simple passes to feet. We are a side lacking pace and touch, so playing a through-ball 20 yards ahead of someone like Franchino is just embarrassing.
3. Our 1 v 1 skills are lacking. When we have the ball we are afraid or unable to beat the last man.
4. Goalkeeper Steve Cronin still has stage fright. I don't know why it's so hard to find a top-class goalie for this club. Kevin Hartmann was a good shot-stopper but had terrible troubles whenever he came to collect a cross and had no distribution skills. None. Joe Cannon was an all-around better keeper but also got tangled up at set-pieces. Now Cronin is busily making a case for Gullitt to bring in another #1 keeper.
5. Half-time talks and substitutions are not working. Read this as the coaching staff is fucking up. The Galaxy started flat-footed, came out for the 2nd half looking asleep, and spent the final 15 minutes hoofing longballs to no one.
6. No off the ball movement. Most of the time you will see a Galaxy player with the ball and either no one at all is moving, or they are running away from the guy. Not one person ever checks back or shows for the simple pass. Cobi Jones was excellent at this but no one has taken his place. Peter Vagenas also knows how to play this way, but where has he been

Speaking of, is Vagenas on the team anymore? What about Abel Xavier?

7. Squad rotation. I don't know if Gullitt is still trying to get to know his team or what, but each week there's a new cast of characters I can't even remember who's who. This does not build team chemistry.


Manchester United won their 17th league title and 10th Premier League title [the Premier League was created in 1992] with a 2-0 win over Wigan today.

The breakthrough came with a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, and the points were sealed when Ryan Giggs, making his record-tying 758th club appearance, was left criminally unmarked and Wayne Rooney picked him out with a superb cross. Giggs made no mistake and slotted home. Giggs has been at Manchester United for 17 years and has been in every side that has won the 10 premiership titles.

Today's results also saw Reading relegated [sent one league down] as Fulham managed to escape on goal differential. Fulham has a few Americans on it, like Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey, so we are delighted to see Fulham remaining in the top flight for at least another season. Among relegated Derby County and Reading, however, are Americans Bobby Convey and Benny Feilhaber.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Galaxy 2 Real Salt Lake 2

David Beckham, remember him? He's that guy Steve McClaren left out of the England team... and ended up not qualifying for Euro 2008.

For the uninitiated, the Euro competition is every 4 years and is basically a mini World Cup. England has long had pretensions/delusions of being one of the elite teams in Europe, and not only their poor World Cup 2006 showing but also their failure to qualify for this tourney has really shown them to be what they are: mediocre. While it may be true that the English Premier League is one of the most exciting leagues, the "English" part should only be an indicator of where the pitches are laid.

A number over 60% represents the non-English players in the league, and if you went back to the "old days" of mostly English/British players, you'd again have some pretty dull football.

All that by way of saying that Beckham has always been one of the most gifted English footballers. His precision of passing, his supernatural vision and ability to pick out runs off the ball and land the ball in someone's hip pocket from 50 yards, is an amazing talent. We all know about Beckham's deadball prowess. This other side of the game is even more crucial.

On Saturday night in Utah, David Beckham brought both halves. He scored a marvellous goal in open play from the right channel, lofting a 35 yard looping ball into the side netting, making the keeper look foolish. Later, a free kick from about 23 yards out was again buried with a fierce shot up and over a useless wall.

It's a shaame the Galaxy drew, because a win would have lifted them into first place.

As for the England critics who have written off Beckham, his display Saturday night showed anyone watching the wrongheadedness of McClaren's reign. When Euro 08 rolls around this summer, thank bonehead McClaren and his exclusion of Beckham.

It's also a good point for RSL, who are having a new 30,000 seater stadium being built especially for them. This new stadium will be bigger than the Galaxy's Home Depot Center by several thousand.

For reference, the Staples Center capacity for a Lakers game is 20,000. Suck on that, Kobe.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thomas Friedman On Our Gas Tax Folly

In today's NY Times, Friedman pillories McCain and McClinton... er, I mean, Clinton over their proposal to suspend the 18.4 cent Federal gas tax. Read the article here.

In one section, Friedman notes:

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

My favorite part is when he quotes Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network, an energy expert who describes America's energy policy as:

“Maximize demand, minimize supply and buy the rest from the people who hate us the most.”

Fugitive Mom Busted After 32 Years

In this story from the LA Times today, we again see the madness of the so-called "war on drugs." The fugitive is 53 year old Susan Levfevre, a San Diego resident, married and mother of three children.

Back in 1976 she walked out of a Detroit correctional facility, having served 1 year of a 10-20 year conviction on "conspiracy and drug charges."

Basically this means she was busted at 21 years of age with an amount of drugs deemed greater than a personal use amount. Maybe she was really even selling the drugs. The point is, 10-20 is longer than you'll get for rape, assault with a deadly weapon (ADW), and even sometimes murder itself. The drug laws are Draconian and stupid.

Susan Lefevre obviously transformed her life and has been living a model existence ever since. She now has a family that needs her, but will be sent back to prison, possibly with an extended sentence due to her escape. This is wrong and insulting. Drug offenders need treatment and counseling, not hard prison time. Detroit is now retroactively destroying this woman's family, who had no idea she was a fugitive.

Isn't the ultimate goal of criminal justice that the perpetrators learn from their crimes and change their ways? This isn't the Middle Ages. Some crimes demand punishment without regard for reform, such as capital crimes, rape, child molestation, etc., but drug crimes are not among them.

I urge you to contact Michigan governor Susan Granholm to ask for clemency:

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
FAX:(517) 335-6863

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Manchester United FC 1 - FC Barcelona 0

Paul Scholes' 14th minute blast from 25 yards was the only goal over both legs against a fluid but toothless Barcelona, sending the Mancs to the Champions League final in Moscow.

Man Utd were without the injured Rooney and Vidic, and played a reshuffled back 4 featuring Hargreaves on the right, Wes Brown in at center back alongside Rio and Evra. The midfield was also a remix, with JS Park, Scholes, Carrick and Nani providing both speed and defense-shredding passes. In attack Ronaldo and Tevez were ever-shifting, unsettling Barcelona's defense, which saw captain Carles Puyol return from suspension.

Neutrals might say United scored against the run of play, but frequent observers of Barcelona would recognize the "carousel" passing that has been the Catalonians' undoing of late. Scoreless in their last 3 outings, Barcelona were content to knock the ball around the middle of the park dozens of times without any penetrating moves.

Leo Messi was seemingly alone against the Red Devils for most of the match, and his individual brilliance nearly cost United the tie, but Messi shot wide several times from excellent positions. His teammate Deco was also having an off night, rifling several shot inches wide.

The United changes after the half were Silvestre for the injured Evra and Darren Fletcher for Scholes, who had been imperious and magisterial most of the match. Scholes' performance was a masterclass in dominating play, and his goal surely will be remembered not only for its devastating accuracy well outside the box but also for the poignancy of who scored it. Paul Scholes will get to play in a Champions League final, denied for the past 9 years.

Scholes rightly should be MOTM, but I also rank Carlos Tevez as a close second, followed by a scintillating display by Evra and a near flawless defensive effort by Ferdinand and Brown.

The Champions League final will be April 21 against either Chelsea or Liverpool, who play tomorrow.
Galaxy Rampant

The LA Galaxy demolished a Chivas USA side that looked a shadow of its former self on Saturday night. The final scoreline of 5-2 includes a hattrick for striker Landon Donovan as well as a brace for Alan Gordon. Beckham turned in a blistering display, charging down loose balls, flighting 40 yard crosses like arrows, and providing Donovan with a devastatingly whipped in cross at the near post. The only Chivas player who looked threatening was Kljestan, who did have a peach of a goal.

The sides went in level at 2-2 and the second half saw Ruud Gullit's men come out with a new determination, and saw the Goats crumble. Alan Gordon came alive after the break and netted twice. The Galaxy's success this season will be down to guys like Gordon, Klein, Franklin and other bit players netting 4 or 5 times per season. Gordon had a great game and I'm looking forward to seeing more of what he can do when given proper service (cue Mr Beckham...).

They have been billing these LA derbies as "super classicos," somewhat ridiculously. There was a lot of shit-talking going on when Chivas USA joined the MLS, and their cocky owner saying how his team made up of the Mexican Chivas' b-team and reserves would steamroll all opposition in the MLS. The owner is also a notorious asshole, as evidenced by his claim that all Hispanics in LA would gravitate to Chivas USA over the gringo Galaxy. There was no rivalry and yet the powers that be determined the LA matches would be more like "real" soccer if we had a fierce rivalry with our stadium roommates. Voila!

It was alright the first couple seasons, because the Galaxy promptly handed Chivas their asses, but last year, Chivas stuffed us both times 3-0. Pretty damn humiliating. So this year's 5-2 really throws down the gauntlet.

This win propels the Galaxy up to 2nd place in the Western Conference and hopefully has righted their ship. It's no coincidence that our midfield finally had some teeth and that David Franchino was now a member of the Galaxy. Franchino looks stocky and thick, like he would more likely be shaking you down in the parking lot after a match instead of chasing down an errant pass inside the park. Regardless, Franchino is a terrier, playing the ass-kicking role of Roy Keane or Gattuso. Franchino is desperately what the Galaxy needed.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

MLS Season Kicks Off!

Saturday night saw the 2008-09 MLS Season get underway, and Los Angeles was away to Colorado.

And what a kicking it was. The LA Galaxy lost 4-0 to the Colorado Rapids. Usually it's decided by the chances you miss, as opposed to the chances you take, but in this case the Galaxy didn't even manage any chances.

Perhaps charitably you could say there were 2 chances on goal. Poor David Beckham, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. This Galaxy side would get their asses beaten decisively by academy players at Beckham's former Manchester United.

The Galaxy when in possession of the ball all looked like they were in a marching band, moving stately forward in columns, no one moving off the ball, no diagonal runs, no one running to the player with the ball and wanting the ball. When we lost the ball, everyone seemed content to just watch Colorado run with it. Oh well, fuck it, they took the ball.

4 things are abundantly clear from this match:

1.) Our goalkeeper sucks
2.) at least 2 of our back 4 (and possibly 3 of them) suck
3.) Carlos Ruiz has been tucking into too much Tex Mex food while away in Dallas. He's a fat little fucker "running" around now with about an extra 25 lbs on him..
4.) Ruud Gullitt had better figure out how to get through to these guys, fast, or we can expect to make it three seasons in a row without making playoffs.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cooper Jones Needs Your Help

Who is Cooper? He's the adorable 6 year old son of my friends Scott & Cathy Jones, and Cooper was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD affects about 15,000 boys in America right now, causing the afflicted to be in wheelchairs by their teens and usually allowing them to live only to their early 20s.

Please visit their site for Cooper, and get involved. Raise money, spread awareness, whatever you can.

Scott & Cathy are really wonderful people and great parents. There is no history of this disease in their families and there is no known cure. Think of it as if it were happening to your own children.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Galaxy, Out.

The LA Galaxy's season came to a skidding halt on Sunday night as they lost to the Chicago Fire. At least the embarrassing display did not cow the Galaxy's ticket office who called me on Monday to ask if I was going to renew my season tickets. That's balls! If only they knew how to put those balls - in the back of the net!

Is the Galaxy that shitty a team that they did not deserve one of the 3 Western conference playoff spots? No. This whole season was jimmy-jacked to have the Galaxy on the road with the Beckham show. The idea was to get Beckham out to all the stadia (plural of stadium) and to draw in record crowds while attracting huge media/fan interest.

It all went according to plan until Becks' injury, but all of the teams playing the Galaxy experienced record attendance.

Also, the international call-up took away our "best" goalscorer, Landon Donovan, for a crucial period. How crucial? One goal in any of the several matches he missed would have earned us the 3 points and gotten us into the playoffs. That's pretty fucking crucial!

It wasn't just his absence. We've been without our star defender Chris Albright all season to injury, and then other new signings like Abel Xavier had to miss matches.

It also does not help that the Galaxy sold or traded about 9 players from the beginning of the season until the end. There is no transfer window, like in European leagues, so if you showed up for a match in June, there were 6 different starters in the side by October. That makes it more than a little difficult for a team to gel and to trust each other.

Oh well, fuck it. The bright news is that most fans barely saw Beckham. Next season, it's going to be another circus because he will be reintroduced, and all the media hoopla that should have played out at the end of this year, will be able to start fresh next season.