Archive | August, 2012

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Sporting KC Dominate DC United

Posted on 12 August 2012 by Kyle Alm

If you were expecting a let down after Sporting KC played 120 minutes against Seattle Sounders FC in the US Open Cup, you couldn’t have been more wrong. No physical or emotional fatigue were apparent against DC United as the two sides squared off with a shot at first place in the Eastern Conference on the line.

Sporting would draw first blood in the 13th minute as Teal Bunbury would connect on a Graham Zusi header on a corner kick. Sporting won the corner on a long throw in from Matt Besler, a common occurrence. Bunbury had came very close moments before on an cross in open play that was barely too high to connect. Bunbury managed to get inside on Bill Hamid, but the DC United goal keeper was able to catch the cross.

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Photos by Tommy Theis Courtesy of Sporting Reporting

DC United would only see 30% of the possession at the half, but they were able to convert a chance when Andy Najar took a speculative cross into the box that Nick DeLeon was able to get a touch on, Michael Harrington lost sight of the ball and got turned around, DeLeon was able to take a touch and place his finish past Jimmy Nielsen for the equalizer.

DC United made one substitution at halftime, Branko Boskovic for Marcelo Saragosa. DC had been dominated in possession and scoring opportunities in the first half and did not find much offensive rhythm.

The second half did not improve for DC United, in fact they were able to maintain their meager amount of possesion from 37% to 44%, but they were not able to turn possession into scoring chances.

Although the score was 2-1, the game was clearly dominated by Sporting KC. They had numerous scoring opportunities, got quality shots of Besler throw ins, and were quite unfortunate that they hit the frame multiple times, Graham Zusi was victimized twice before he was able to put one away. Sporting were able to play the entire width of the field, Kei Kamara showed exceptional range end to end and sideline to sideline.

There was a bit of a scuffle when Perry Kitchen was backing into Nielsen who was coming out to punch the ball away. Nielsen appeared to try and kick Kitchen, clearly annoyed that he was challenged by the United midfielder.

After the match Peter Vermes gave DC United a compliment on their strategy, “They didn’t come to pack it in tonight and that’s rare when we play teams at home.” Given the personalities of the DC coach, it would have been shocking if Ben Olsen hadn’t played for the win with top of the Eastern Conference table at stake.

When asked about his team’s return to form Peter Vermes replied, “The season is very long in MLS, I think sometimes what happens is you can ride the wave, you can fall off the wave, the big thing is how fast you get back on it. I think that, if anything, we never lost any confidence in ourselves.”

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DC United continues to seek mojo against Sporting KC

Posted on 11 August 2012 by Steve Long

It’s not easy being Ben. Good coaches have a basic philosophy and try to fit their team into a framework within which it can succeed as a unit. To that end, a new coach will seek players to fit his system and adjust to what he inherits as he builds the new structure. His task is complicated as injuries, trades, losses to international duty, and the unanticipated variables of the game mess with his plans.

DC United’s Ben Olsen took over a team with little theme and some major deficits in talent and focus. With some help from the front office he has assembled a solid set of choices in attack and midfield and a defense that needs just a bit more depth. He can take this team in the direction of possession and control or aggressive athleticism.

The latter is the hallmark of most MLS teams. It is the American style if you will. Watching the US Women’s National Team in London, I noticed that the same is true for them. At the current level of world soccer the athletic style works well for the women, but the world has caught on and Japan, France, and Canada showed where the US will need to go.

Pia Sundhage has emphasized attack and pressure because it has worked. Put to the test of well-disciplined play, it almost didn’t. Sundhage has the tools to improve on the US style since she has players who are technically gifted and comfortable on the ball. To stay on top, the US will have to add the ability to use the whole field all the time.

Olsen and DC United have a similar challenge with fewer players mature and comfortable enough to fully implement a better total game. The concept of critical mass applies, and you can see signs of United’s desire to grow its game control style.

It began with the acquisition of Hamdi Salihi and Lewis Neal and has been reinforced with the latest addition, Raphael Augusto who may be slotted to spell Branko Boskovic as an attacking midfielder. That position requires comfort on the ball and an attitude about control of play. Augusto is young, but comes from a Brasilian style that should suit where Olsen needs to go.

In DC United’s heyday, the team controlled the flow and then attacked quickly and surely when conditions were right. They have not reached that level of competence yet under Olsen, but I believe that he is moving in the right direction.

For two months his team has drifted along toward a period of reckoning that begins Saturday night in Kansas City. With the loss for an indefinite period of the services of left back Daniel Woolard, Olsen acquired Mike Chabala for immediate coverage and future depth.

That should help in the game at hand, but United will be hard pressed to be defensively coherent on that side. The DC defense rotates constantly to adjust to the flow of the game and wide defenders are as often found in attack as in the center in front of goal. Olsen should not use Chabala in that role for at least a few more weeks and that will unbalance his team’s flow somewhat.

The good news is that an away game customarily means a more structured and less fluid approach which will allow the new player to avoid dangerous overlapping runs. Essentially, Chris Pontius will need to make his own space wide rather than drawing defenders inside to allow his own defender to become a creator.

United’s attack will be more classically linear and wide, and should provide a different look from what KC might expect. Width should provide a bit more space for United’s attack to run what should be a tired Sporting team from side to side. To that end, Olsen may choose to start forward Long Tan again, since the youngster has a great work rate and must be marked, even if his finishing is still underdeveloped.

Late in the game, Olsen can then send in either the wily Salihi or the strong Brasilian Maicon Santos. The former will make runs that also require marking and the latter can hold up the ball for others to run onto or shoot from distance. That last feature will force tired KC defenders to stay close to him, a difficult task.

The question about Sporting KC is whether or not they have fully recovered from their US Open Cup victory against Sounders on Wednesday. Sporting seem very determined to maintain their winning ways and keep their new stadium full of fans. Playing for first place in the Eastern Conference, a place they held at the start of the season with a seven match unbeaten streak but relinquished the top of the table after 4 matches without a win, currently they stand at 12-7-4 with 40 points.

A match that goes 120 minutes is obviously physically exhausting and there is a psychological component as well. After coming down from a emotional high it can be difficult to get back up for a match four days later. Sporting probably have the roster depth to overcome the physical exhaustion, we will see if Peter Vermes has them mentally prepared to compete with DC United tonight.

Sporting are a physical, or “athletic,” team, big across the back and up the middle. Kei Kamara is clearly the trigger man, leading MLS in shots (88) taken and shots on goal (36). He’s been a bit unlucky, with only 7 goals from those scoring chances.

Graham Zusi is the other big piece of the Sporting attack, 9 assists is one off the league lead. Sporting are able to control the middle of the pitch quite effectively, due to the size and quality of these players. In addition to their potent offense, goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen has keep his sheet clean 10 times in MLS, that’s the league lead. Nielsen also owns the league’s best Goals Against Average, 0.913 goals per game.

Aurelian Collin is still on the injured list with facial fractures from the MLS All-Star match vs. Chelsea, and should be returning this week or next. Two other defenders Seth Sinovic, ankle sprain against Seattle, and Lawrence Olum are questionable. Sinovic’s ankle injury seemed fairly severe when he was taken off in the final. CJ Sapong’s availability is in question also.

Expect a hard fought well defended match between these two sides as both are acutely aware of what is at stake.

UPDATE: Aurelian Collin has been cleared to play and is in the starting lineup.

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Seattle Sounders Fall in Shootout to Sporting KC

Posted on 09 August 2012 by Kyle Alm

A hot and muggy Kansas City afternoon gave way to a thunderstorm that delayed the started of this much anticipated match for over 30 minutes. Lightning within 2 miles of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park means a 30 minute delay from that strike.

Sporting KC had control of the match early in the first half, in the second minute Teal Bunbury received a square ball near the top of the box, had he allowed the ball to continue rolling Kei Kamara was unmarked on Sporting’s left wing. Bunbury put his shot over the bar, Kamara certainly had the better position for a scoring opportunity.

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© 2012 Denise McCooey & Prost Amerika

Sounders struggled to to creat chances and possess the ball in offensive poistion, seemed to have difficulty making accurate passes, and to make matters worse Osvaldo Alonso was given a caution in the fourth minute for dissent following a challenge on Kei Kamara that sent certainly appeared to be embellished. Alonso was booked for dissent when Referee Ricardo Salazar had something to tell Alonso.

Michael Gspurning was called into action for his first save of the night in the sixth minute on a header in the box from Kamara on a throw-in but went straigh at Gspurning. Sounders gave up another scoring opportunity on a throw in the 26th minute, a shot from distance that went off of the crossbar.

Sounders had their first shot on goal when Eddie Johnson connected with a Mauro Rosales corner kick in the 30th minute that Jimmy Nielsen managed remarkabley managed to save.

Kamara set the crowd alight with a rocket of a shot that hit the side netting in the 38th minute. The crowd thought it was a goal, the confetti operator thought so as well. Once again it was a throw in that lead up to the shooting chance.

Sporting started the second half well, Teal Bunbury had another shot on frame that Gspurning saved. Sporting were much more the aggressor in the second half and had the more dangerous chances throughout the match. Sounders made two substitutions in the 69th minute, bringing on veteran Brad Evans and DP Christian Tiffert for Andy Rose and Alex Caskey, two rookie Sounders.

Controversy struck in the 84th minute when Pat Ianni was whistled for a handball in the box for a penalty. Replays were inconclusive, none of the press seemed to be able to tell who the handball was actually on. It seemed more of a case of the ball playing the hand, usually not given as a penalty. Kei Kamara would step up the spot, send Gspurning to left and went right.

Sounders showed their resilience and drew level two minutes later when Zach Scott headed home a corner kick in the 86th minute to draw level and send the match to extra time and eventually a penalty shootout. Both sides seemed content with their chance in that scenario. Schmid would sub Fredy Montero for Marc Burch in the 107th minute of extra time. An extra defender turned out to be exactly what Sounders needed when ten minutes later Patrick Ianni was sent off in the 118th minute for a reckless tackle he was yellow then red and Sounders were left with ten men to finish the match and managed to kill off the rest of the time without conceding a goal.

Ricardo Salazar made two controversial calls, the penalty kick on a phantom handball and allowing Paulo Nagamura to take a second penalty kick after Gspurning had made a save on his first attempt. To Salazar it appeared that Gspurning moved off the goal line before the shot was taken, it’s rarely called in most penalty kick situations because it’s dificult to see the line when the ball is being struck and every goalkeeper is taught to anticipate the kick.

In the end Sporting KC had the better opportunities to score, Gspurning did an admirable job keeping them out of his net, but they were unlucky not to score a few of their chances. Kei Kamara’s shot off the crossbar definitely stands out. Gspurning made more saves than Jimmy Nielsen did in the shootout, the final shootout tally was 3-2. Ultimately it was unfortunate that there is so much speculation about officiating in a Cup Final.

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US Open Cup Preview

Posted on 07 August 2012 by Kyle Alm

Seattle Sounders face off against Sporting Kansas City in the Lamar Hunt US Open cup Final tomorrow, in Livestrong Park. Sounders have won the Cup the last three years running, the biggest criticism of their success is that is that they have played a majority of their US Open Cup matches in Qwest/CenturyLink or Starfire Sports Complex in front of their home crowd. Sounders did win the US Open Cup hosted by DC United in 2009 and have hosted the Final in 2010 & 2011.

Detractors can say that winning is easier at home, but it’s not easy to win a Cup Final no matter where it is played. Despite the criticism it is fair to say that the Sounders run of success has raised the profile of this competition. Other teams certainly have taken notice of what the competition has meant to the Supporters of the Sounders and now see the US Open Cup as worthy of trying to win and host.

Sounders have hosted so many matches because they can afford to pay more for them under the sealed bid process of awarding home matches. Sounders draw approximately 4,500 (give or take) at Starfire for USOC which certainly allows them to invest more than teams that wouldn’t draw so well. Adrian Hanauer was surprised that Kansas City was awarded the Final, Sigi Schmid also criticized the process as being opaque. The story goes that Sporting KC & Seattle Sounders FC submitted identical bids and a coin flip determined the winner. A coin flip no one saw. Schmid went so far as to comment about the ties to US Soccer, who runs the US Open Cup, from the DC United & Sporting KC clubs.

Sounders are fresh off of their 4-0 drubbing of LA Galaxy, and have a new signing with Christian Tiffert CM who logged his first minutes in that match. Sounders have Michael Gspurning, MLS leader in GAA, who has been out with an injury since May 2nd in LA against Galaxy. Sporting have their share of injury issues, center back Aurelin Collin is injured, but would miss the match anyway due to yellow card accumulation, Bobby Convey and Jacob Peterson are also doubtful.

Sporting KC certainly have been a team on the rise in MLS, a new soccer specific stadium at Livestrong Park, tied for first in the Eatern Confernce with DC United at 40 points. Sounders are equal, with a game in hand and three points behind. It’s difficult to handicap this match, it seems to be exactly even, Sounders have the better record recently and have a new DP with Tiffert, but Sporting have Kei Kamara in the middle, who has had several big matches against Sounders, and the home fans. I would like to give the edge to Seattle, because they know that this is a playoff type atmosphere against a top MLS side and they have the opportunity to make it four Cups in a row, but Sporting have a chance to win their first US Open Cup since 2004 when they were the Wizards and played in a baseball stadium.

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Sounders Shock Galaxy 4-0

Posted on 06 August 2012 by Neil Jones

In a highly anticipated Western Conference rematch with the Los Angeles Galaxy that included the debut of the Sounders’ newly acquired designated player Christian Tiffert, 60,908 fans at Centurylink Field in Seattle were treated to a match that saw the Seattle Sounders cruise in a 4-0 rout.

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The scoring opened early for Seattle in the 6th minute with a beautiful pass up the right side from Osvaldo Alonso to Mauro Rosales who fed a fantastic cross to Eddie Johnson, who would get behind the Galaxy defense most of the night, for a header in the left of the net past the diving Los Angeles keeper Josh Saunders.  Seattle kept the pressure on and made another run up the right side in the 11th minute that went just wide.

Los Angeles appeared to have a chance to even the score in the 16th minute when A.J. DeLaGarza was taken down in the Sounders box, but no penalty was awarded.  DeLaGarza received the first yellow of the match with a takedown of Eddie Johnson that appeared to only slightly nick his heel, but the Sounders were unable to capitalize on the ensuing free kick.

LA made another run at the tie in the 32nd minute with a ball to Landon Donovan directly in front of the goal that was snuffed by the Sounders.  At the half, while the statistics showed the Galaxy had a slight advantage on time of possession and the same number of shots as the Sounders, seven, control of the match appeared to be with the Sounders.  Under relentless pressure the Galaxy were unable to capitalize on their chances and went into the break down 1-0.

The Sounders came out in the second half firing on all cylinders and continued their scoring as Fredy Montero came through in the 52nd minute with his sixth MLS goal.  Set up by a fantastic, but blocked, shot from man-of-the-match Alex Caskey, Montero put the ball in the top right of the net to go up 2-0.

Caskey’s excellent play throughout the match started in the 4th minute with a shot that was deflected and culminated in his 1st goal in MLS play in the 61st minute after a deflection.  He would finish with three shots including two on goal and was replaced to cheers from the fans by Marc Burch in the 80th minute.

In the 64th minute, highly anticipated designated player Christian Tiffert made his Sounders debut substituting for Brad Evans, who shortly before had been issued the matches’ second yellow card, and made a nice run behind the Galaxy defense into the box in the 69th minute that was deflected resulting in the only Seattle corner.

Marc Burch made good use of his ten minutes of playing time including an assist to Andy Rose who substituted in for Fredy Montero in the 73rd minute and scored his first MLS goal in the 88th minute.  Rose’s textbook, right-footed beauty in the center of the box found the top right corner for Seattle’s final goal of the night.

Sigi Schmid expressed his pleasure with the team’s ability to get behind the Galaxy defense all night and the solid teamwork of Johnson and Montero who fed each other throughout the match and took eight of the Sounders’ 14 total shots between them.  With the upcoming Open Cup championship match against Sporting KC this Wednesday, the team hopes to ride their current six game unbeaten streak (3-0-3) to a fourth consecutive Open Championship, a never before accomplished feat.

The Sounders will get a shot at a sweep of the Galaxy this season when they visit Los Angeles in the last game of the MLS season.  With potential playoff hopes on the line for both teams, the upcoming match is setup to be another epic showdown.

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DC United still looking to break through the wall

Posted on 05 August 2012 by Steve Long

The “rookie wall” is a well worn cliché precisely because it is so often encountered. If the rookie in question is lucky enough to break through, he has a good chance to hang around the top level. Last night, rookie Nick DeLeon showed signs of returning to his early season form.

When I asked him in April about the main lesson that he had taken from his father, a former professional player, he noted that it was, “My attitude of going at defenders without fear. Sometimes you lose it, sometimes you get by them; but you just gotta keep going.”

His observation applied then, applied to last night’s wonderful run, and may apply to DC United as well.

He made the most significant game-changing effort I have seen that garnered no assist. That pesky statistic requires a more direct link than he generated; but the goal was almost all his doing with a neat backheel by Long Tan and a simple tap-in by Chris Pontius to finish it off.

Having gone through his own rookie and sophomore phases, Pontius had the correct insight, “It’s tough. You go from having a three-month season to all of a sudden – with preseason – ten plus months. Consistency is the hardest thing as a rookie, but I think he’s found his groove back.

“I just told him the thing that makes him successful is his going at guys, and you saw that tonight, putting defenders on their heels.” The rookie’s early season fearlessness and ability to shed defenders is indeed reminiscent of his mentor’s early years.

Deleon benefited from immediate advice as, “[Chris] Korb played a ball down the line and I just heard the sideline saying ‘go at them, go at them.’ He gave me a little space toward the line and I went at him. Fortunately enough I got through and we got the goal.”

In fast moving situations in a crowded goal area anything can happen, but a quick reflex increases the odds of scoring. As he closed on goal, DeLeon pirouetted around a defender to free up enough space to put in a short cross to Tan.

The play showed his adaptability and cool under pressure, “That was just a bad touch. The defender was coming, so I just improvised. It worked out for the best. We got the goal and we got the win, so I’m happy about that.”

Now let’s consider a DC United team that has been wading through its own midseason morass. It won on the night only because it got a few more breaks than a mediocre opponent. Both teams created few good chances and both nearly scored from in the box bounces. This one could have gone either way.

The team played a bit more narrowly than normal because of the style that the Columbus Crew chose to use. Josh Wolff noted that the Crew wanted United to attack wide so that crossed balls would be more easily rejected by their tall defenders, principally Chad Marshall.

United chose instead to play a quick passing game inside, as both Korb and Daniel Woolard overlapped into the wide channels, while the team maintained overall good shape. The discipline held up well enough to preserve the clean score sheet despite a few scary moments.

As United approaches the most trying several weeks of their season, they will need to show more confidence in attack while retaining good discipline and shape. Saturday’s upcoming game at Sporting Kansas City will provide them a stern test by a quality side.

With the team still looking like a preseason side, Olsen will have to hold very focused practices this week to ingrain proper habits. It takes a superior coach to instill a confident improvising mentality while assuring that shape is well maintained.

Both have to come naturally, with no delays to think it over. The players must all be as adaptable as DeLeon was when he turned his bad touch into a clever move. Olsen has been slowly working out how to do that. His opposite numbers keep redefining the issues he faces.

Just as several of his players are still learning how to get out of a funk, so Is their young coach.

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Has DC United learned from Paris Saint Germain?

Posted on 03 August 2012 by Steve Long

When a team has long lulls in competitive play it becomes difficult to assess and predict, even for the coach. No matter how tightly constructed to simulate game conditions, practices never quite reach the full intensity level of a match with points on the line.

The problem is described as a lack of match fitness and is usually observed in preseason games for teams and in a player’s return to play from injury. Over the last few weeks, visits from top European teams which are in their own preseason presented interesting opportunities for the MLS teams which faced them in more equal contests than normal.

For DC United, their match against Paris Saint Germain was especially helpful. A formidable opponent forces a team to play with good habits centered on proper positioning, tight marking, and quicker play. Although both teams in such exhibitions are testing ideas and personnel, the quality of the PSG play allowed a good simulation of serious MLS contests.

The Columbus Crew comes into RFK as an improving team with an eye on the playoffs. They should feel good about their win at home against United in which they demonstrated great tenacity and discipline. It is Olsen’s task to assure that United’s occasional mental lapses in that contest are on the players’ minds and that they focus better at home.

For the young coach that is already first nature; he is certain to emphasize the need for aggressive play. He has only a few real choices to make about a starting lineup: who starts up front with Dwayne DeRosario, who starts at right midfield, and who starts in central defense.

If he goes with a full aggressive lineup, he will place Maicon Santos up front, Danny Cruz at right mid, and Brandon McDonald in central defense. There is an alternative, put Cruz on for pugnacity, but mix the attack up with Salihi up front to create and exploit space which might then help Emiliano Dudar’s more sophisticated passing out of the back to open up the Crew defense.

Columbus will focus its efforts on closing down both Chris Pontius and DeRosario. They will not neglect Salihi, but his threat is less palpable and more likely to slip under their radar. Cruz will help in that area as he will be in their faces all over the right wing.

Both McDonald and Santos were off form in Ohio and Olsen allowed Dudar to play the entire 90 minutes against PSG and was rewarded with a reasonably composed team. With Salihi’s talents still recognized by the Albanian National Team, Olsen may decide to use him a bit more often before he leaves after the 12 August match for a few days to play on 15 August.

That date is an international friendly date which will also see Dejan Jakovic and DeRosario playing for Canada. All will return at least somewhat fatigued for United’s 19 August game at RFK against the Philadelphia Union which begins a draining two-games-per-week sequence for DC.

For almost two months, DC United has been in a holding pattern while its Eastern Conference competitors have caught up in games played and left them wondering if their early season flair can be recaptured. If the PSG game has provided the insight and motivation hoped for, it needs to show up soon.

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Andy Rose Lifts Sounders Over Caledonia

Posted on 03 August 2012 by Kyle Alm

Caledonia AIA came to Seattle for their first CONCACAF Champions League match in their history. If they were expecting a large crowd of cheering supporters that Seattle has become known for they were in for a surprise. Less than 8,000 fans showed up in Seattle to watch Seattle Sounders FC start a new CCL campaign.

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For the first 10 minutes Caledonia were able to use their speed to get up the wings to create a couple of shots and win a corner kick in the 6th minute that seemed to indicate a strategy against Sounders which they intended to use on set pieces for scoring opportunities. Brad Evans, playing at right back for Zach Scott, seemed to have some difficulty defending his wing during this time span & made a bad decision that turned into a chance for Caledonia that they were unable to capitalize on. Caledonia had the best of their chances early, they would only earn 2 corner kicks, 4 shots on goal the entire match.

Sounders were able to capitalize on their own speedy Trinidadian, Cordell Cato, who used his pace to great effect with service from Brad Evans and Andy Rose in particular. Rose was prolific, had two assists, poached a goal from his own teammate, Sammy “the goal poacher” Ochoa off of a Fredy Montero shot.

Sounders lead 3-0 at halftime, Servando Carrasco replaced Osvaldo Alonso in center midfield, and did so competently. Sounders Caledonia came out of the locker room strong for the first ten minutes but they were unable to sustain any kind of attack beyond that. Caledonia were able to get a goal back on a penalty kick awarded on a Jhon Kennedy Hurtado foul in 50th minute.

Fredy Montero chose the 56th minute to retaliate with a stupefying, and rather obvious, dive in the box in a completely unnecessary ploy for a penalty kick. The Colombian was shown yellow for simulation. Not only is it disgraceful, it’s also poor gamesmanship, first match in group play, up two goals, not a smart move.

The match would end 3-1. Caledonia did not seem ready to compete for 90 minutes in Seattle. They had spent almost an entire day travelling from Trinidad, and their brief outburst of productivity at the beginning of both halves would seem to back this up.

Their coach, Jerry Moe, seemed somewhat satisfied by how much his side had to overcome and eager to have a match that didn’t require a day’s travel. Coach Schmid was satisfied with the result and getting to rest Osvaldo Alonso for the second half in advance of the LA Galaxy coming to Seatttle. Schmid did express that they could have scored more goals, but that the 3 points in the group was what was most important.

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Lopes scores in Galaxy defeat to Real Madrid

Posted on 03 August 2012 by iyeo

David Junior Lopes has developed a knack lately for scoring against big time European clubs.

A little more than a week after scoring an equalizer against Tottenham Hotspur, the 6-4 Center Back was at it again against Spanish power Real Madrid on Thursday. This time, Lopes cashed in a goal off a David Beckham set piece in the 24rd minute, but even that was not enough to prevent Madrid from once again outclassing the Galaxy for a third straight year courtesy of a 5-1 win over LA at the Home Depot Center.

“It was a good exhibition for the fans,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “I was disappointed with our start in the first 15-20 minutes, but at the same time, I must allow myself to understand we are playing against one of the best club teams in the world.”
Lopes’ chance came in the 23rd minute, as Beckham sent a free kick into the penalty box towards Omar Gonzalez and the 6-5 Center Back headed the ball forward to Lopes, who chested a ball past keeper Iker Casillas in the back net.

“It was all god and a lot of luck,” Lopes said.

Lopes’ goal was a small bit of consolation for what was a poor start to the match, as Madrid easily got behind the Galaxy back line for the match’s first nine minute. Real Madrid spotted the Galaxy a goal just two minutes into the match, as Angel Di Maria sent a ball forward for Gonzalo Higuain, who then sent his shot past Josh Saunders far post for the game’s first goal. Goal number two came for Real Madrid in the 11th minute when Di Maria was on the receiving end of a ball, this one sent by Lass Diarra, and his shot in the box beat Saunders into the back net.

“I was disappointed by our start,” Arena said. “Our backline didn’t execute well, and I think we gave them too much time and space in the midfield.”

The Galaxy finally started to pose some threats later in the first half. In the 17th minute, a corner from David Beckham went to Bryan Gaul, but the Left Back’s header missed near post, then in the 20th minute, Robbie Keane took on several Madrid defenders into the penalty area, but his shot was deflected. Madrid then answered Lopes’ goal in the 36th minute courtesy of Jose Callejon. Both teams brought in their second units for the second half, but Real Madrid’s second unit featuring the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and others proved to be a little stronger than that of the Galaxy, and Madrid got second half goal from Alvaro Morata in the 49th minute and Jese Rodriguez in the 84th minute.

The Galaxy resume MLS play on Sunday, as they travel to Seattle for an important Western Conference showdown with the Sounders.

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