Archive | November, 2012

LA Galaxy Hold On To 3 Goal Lead In Seattle

Posted on 19 November 2012 by Kyle Alm

Seattle Sounders were not able to overcome the 3-0 hole they had dug for themselves in Los Angeles against the Galaxy, despite the incredible efforts of the Seattle players and the raucousness of the fans the Galaxy held on to the lead they built in their home leg.

There were a couple of lineup changes that were unexpected. Landon Donovan made the trip with his teammates but did not suit up. Mauro Rosales was left of of the 18 man roster and then added at the last minute in place of Alex Caskey.

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Eddie Johnson had great opportunities to score early in the match. One went sailing into Brougham End four minutes in, the other was incorrectly called offsides seven minutes later on a brilliant ball from Christian Tiffert on right corner of the box. Johnson would not be denied a third time as he made a physical run, brushed aside Omar Gonzalez and beat Josh Saunders in the 12th minute on ball played out of the back by Zach Scott. For the improbably Seattle comeback tonight, an early goal was practically a necessity, if nothing else for the psyche of the team to stay in the match mentally.

The Galaxy were not effective attacking early, they did not manage a shot on frame during the first half, Sounders did a good job of marking Robbie Keane and picking up Sean Franklin’s overlapping runs during the first half. Franklin had a difficult task marking Steve Zakuani, who was starting his first match since September 12 against San Jose. Having to contend with Zakuani’s speed on the defensive half may have had an impact on Franklin’s offensive performance.

There was a moment of minor controversy at the end of the first half 44th minute involving a suspected handball on Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Mike Magee received a cross into the box from Edson Buddle and the subsequent shot hit Hurtado’s hand. The incident would later be put under a microscope for examination due to incidents later in the match.

Sounders would find a second goal 12 minutes into the second half, when Zach Scott headed a near post corner kick past Josh Saunders to bring the Sounders to within a goal of tying the aggregate score at 3 goals apiece.

Adam Johansson’s hand ball in the 67th minute remains a controversial call, and probably has something to do with Hurtado’s previous hand ball that blocked a shot that looked like it was on frame. The referee, Mark Geiger, would later explain the difference as to the unnatural position of Johansson’s arm compared to Hurtado who had his arm close to his body. Coach Sigi Schmid opined in his post-match press conference that Robbie Keane had no one to cross to in the box and stated that it was a clever play on the part of Keane to deliberately play for a hand ball. In fairness, Keane was likely playing for a corner, or a lucky deflection for goal, probably not for a penalty kick. No doubt he is certainly pleased with the result of his efforts. Johansson looked awkward and let his arms get away from his body and reacted badly after the ball hit his hand making it obvious.

Fredy Montero was able to turn a bad touch into an opportunity for simulation in the 72nd minute, clearly looking for the penalty after his touch went rolling across the endline. David Estrada came on for Montero almost immediately after that, along with an extra attacker, Mario Martinez for Adam Johansson. LA Galaxy made one sub in the 84th minute, Michael Stephens for Edson Buddle.

Estrada had a great chance at a third Sounders goal at the start of stoppage time from 6 yards out that he put directly at Josh Saunders who was able to deflect it away. It likely would not have mattered, LA Galaxy advanced and gathered in celebration while Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson were arguing with the officials after the final whistle. Osvaldo Alonso was issued his second yellow card of the night and will miss the first game of the 2013 MLS season.

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A question for the MLS Disciplinary Committee

Posted on 14 November 2012 by Steve Long

Major League Soccer has just come out and admitted that referee Ricardo Salazar erred in not calling a foul on Houston’s Andre Hainault when he took down DC United’s Raphael Augusto late in the first half of the Eastern Conference Final first leg in Houston.

The failure to call the foul and eject Hainault for Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO) was entirely understandable from the position from which Salazar viewed the players and their exchange of arm contact. He couldn’t see that Hainault had trapped Augusto’s arm and pulled him down.

His own explanation confirms that he didn’t see it as a foul, but Professional Referee Organization General Manager Peter Walton, admitted on MLSSoccer.com that in his judgment it was indeed a foul and DOGSO.

Then MLS went on to state that the event was not reviewable by its disciplinary committee. That’s interesting, because it must be on the basis that the referee’s decision to let play continue on removes their ability to punish the action.

Let’s contrast that seemingly defensible position with their actions in regard to the second yellow card on Andy Najar in the semi-final opener against New York Red Bulls for which they suspended him for two additional games.

That punishment was given despite the fact that the referee, Jair Maruffo, specifically chose to call Najar’s offense only a cautionable dissent.

It seems to me that if the MLS Disciplinary Committee holds itself to a standard that the referee’s report is the defining document in such matters then they should feel similarly prevented from intervening in Najar’s case. After all, Marrufo was the aggrieved party when Najar threw the ball and determined at that time that it was not an abuse or assault on him.

While two similar preceding events involving Brek Shea (3 added games for kicking a ball at a referee) and Mike Magee (1 game for a mild throw in the direction of a referee) would seem to neatly bracket Najar’s punishment and provide adequate justification, we are still stuck with Maruffos’ reporting only dissent.

My quarrel is not with the Najar decision but with the failure to act on the Hainault situation. As it is, it seems that a non-decision by a referee because he did not see something (Hainault’s foul) may not be overruled while a specific description of an act that the referee did see (Najar’s throw) may be overruled.

Yet, disciplinary committees worldwide routinely punish “unseen” simulation although not reported or seen as such by a referee. How does this ex-post-facto calling of simulation differ from calling Hainault’s “simulating” fair play? So I ask MLS, did I miss something technical?

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Vergara outlines Future Plans for Chivas USA

Posted on 13 November 2012 by iyeo

Making his first public appearence regarding the status of Chivas USA since acquiring sole ownership of the club late this past Summer, Jorge Vergara outlined his future plans for the club, which he says will include a more closer affiliation with its parent club, C.D. Chivas Guadlajara, a new head coach, and what he hopes will be a new stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

“We want to bring back the concept that we started when we decided to become Chivas USA,” Vergara said. “It’s a team that has to become an extension of Chivas Mexico with a different philosophy in a sense of the players, but with the same philosophy of how to play football, how to be exciting, how to be spectacular, and of course, how to be successful.”

The team was founded on August 29, 2004 and began play in Major League Soccer in 2005. After a dismal inagural season in which it went 4-22-6, Chivas started to turn the corner, making the playoffs for the next four seasons, the first in 2006 under Bob Bradley and the last three under Preki. Chivas USA’s best season came in 2007, when it went 15-7-8 and won the Western Conference regular season title, but for all the success it enjoyed in the regular season during that span, it could never translate that success into the playoffs, as the team lost in the first round all four years, and the team’s playoff failures from 2007 to 2009 eventually cost Preki his job. The last three years have been forgetable for the Goats, as they have went 23-50-24 over the last three seasons, finishing at or close to the bottom of the Western Conference each time.

Vergara cited two factors for the club’s recent struggles. One factor was the attempt by Chivas USA management to distance themselves from that of Chivas Guadalajara. Vergara pointed out that he offered his U.S. counterparts the services of Manchester United’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez for a season, but was rebuffed by the Chivas USA staff. Another factor Vergara cited was Chivas USA’s attempt to emulate the style of most MLS teams, which relied mostly on strength and athleticism.

“We became nothing,” Vergara said. “We didn’t play like the U.S. and we didn’t play like the Mexicans, we played like nothing, and the best proof was the last season we had.”

One of the many questions that Vergara addressed was the management structure of the team. He stated that Jose Domene, the team’s General Manager, will remain as the team’s Administrative Director and that Johan Cryuff will come on as an advisor, a role he currenlty serves with Chivas Guadalajara. One of the first tasks for the new administration is to choose a replacement for Robn Fraser, who was fired as head coach last week. Vergara stated he hopes to have a head coach in placewithin the next ten days and that Cruyff will be the main desicion-maker on the new head coach. Vergara said that they looked at canidates from Mexico, Argentina, and the Netherlands.

Another pressing issure for Chivas is its quest to find its own stadium. It’s no secret that Vergara prefers a stadium located near downtown Los Angeles and one site that has been talked about is a site at the LA Memorial Coliseum in cohorts with USC. In that scenario, the stadium would be built at the current site of the LA Sports Arena. Vergara said he hopes to restart those talks with USC to see if they’re still interested. Vergara also said that he has had overtures from other cities to move his team there, but was adamant that the team would be staying in Los Angeles for the near future.

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Galaxy rout Sounders in First Leg of Western Conference Finals

Posted on 12 November 2012 by iyeo

The Galaxy drew first blood in the first leg of the Western Conference final on Sunday evening, as another brace from Robbie Keane and a goal from the Galaxy’s prime postseason performer, Mike Magee, paced LA to a 3-0 win over the Seattle Sounders at the Home Depot Center.

“The whole team did well,” Galaxy right back Sean Franklin said. “We were passing well and running well. We were able to find a lot of space.”

The goal by Magee is the midfielder’s sixth goal in the Galaxy’s last eight postseason matches and his eighth in the playoffs since being acquired by Los Angeles prior to the 2009 season. The win and the goal differential is much needed for the Galaxy as it prepares for what is sure to be a tough final leg at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field next Sunday evening.

“We played very well against an excellent team and we’re not foolish to believe this thing is over,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said.

A tightly played first half looked certain to end scoreless, but the Galaxy got one last chance right before the break and made the most of it. Juninho played a ball to an overlapping Sean Franklin and the right back one-timed a cross into the penalty area and a dummy by Christian Wilhelmsson allowed the ball to go to Landon Donovan, who withstood Jeff Parke’s pressure and whipped a floating cross into the six and Robbie Keane’s header beat a scrambling Michael Gspurning into the back net to give LA the lead heading into the break.

“It was important that we kept our patience and that certainly was the case,” Keane said. “We knew that was going to be difficult, they were going to defend well and they did that. I think the goal just before halftime was a big boost for us and obviously killed them a little.”

The chances and goals would come flying for the Galaxy in the first half. Goal number two came in the 64th minute on a flawless buildup. Keane received a ball from David Beckham near midfield and quickly led LA on a counter. Keane then played a forward ball for Franklin, who again one-timed a perfect cross into the 18 for an unmarked Mike Magee, who did the rest, slipping his shot past Gspurning near post. The Galaxy capped off the scoring three minutes later, as Donovan sprinted for the Sounders 18, pulled up just outside the box and took a shot that was deflected, but fortunately, Wilhelmsson continued his run into the box and thus got behind the Seattle backline, touched a ball the first time, then managed to get a shot off just before Gspurning could scoop up the ball and the ball trickled towards the goal line and Keane ensured that that would be the end result, as he easily tapped the ball into the open net.

“I thought we could’ve kept it 1-0,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We we’re still doing some things with the ball, unfortunately, we got caught on the counters.”

Even with the three-goal lead, LA was not satisfied, continuing to take advantage of Seattle’s ever-growing desperation. In the 71st minute, Marcelo Sarvas played a ball to Keane just outside the box, Keane then played it back to a sprinting Sarvas inside the box, Sarvas pulled up and attempted to lob a ball past Gspurning, but Gspurning won this battle, as he parried the ball over the endline. Another LA chance came in the 76th minute when Keane again led a Galaxy counter, played a ball that was dummied by Donovan and Wilhelmsson quickly touched the ball to Donovan, who then touched a ball past Gspurning, but was cleared near the goal line by Jeff Parke.

“Tonight was one of those nights where every play was on form,” Arena said.

The Galaxy were aggressive right early in the first half, as Wilhelmsson played a long ball right for a sprinting Donovan on the right side. Donovan was then taken down by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado just outside the right corner of the penalty area, though the Sounders were able to snuff out the ensuing free kick and corner kick. Then in the 27th minute, Keane back-heeled a ball to Donovan, who quickly sent it forward for a sprinting Keane, Keane then crossed into the box for Donovan, but his header was easily saved by Gspurning. Seattle’s best chance in the first half came in the 30th minute when Osvaldo Alonso launched a long-range volley from 30+ yards out, but was collected by Saunders.

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Galaxy Rally to Upset Earthquakes

Posted on 08 November 2012 by iyeo

Playing against the recently crowned Supporters Shield winners in the MLS playoffs in a place where the home team had not lost since August of 2011 in an elimination game, especially when trailing by a goal on aggregate  would be dfficult for any team.

Apparently, someone didn’t tell that to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The Galaxy’s reign as the MLS Cup Champions will continue for at least another week, as Robbie Keane found the back net twice and Mike Magee added a third and the Galaxy rode those three goals and eventually held off the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 in the second leg of its Western Conference Semifinal series.

The win gives LA the series win 3-2 on aggregate and eliminates the league-leading Quakes and sends the Galaxy to the Western Conference Finals, where they wil await the winner of the series between Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders, which is currenlty scoreless as the two teams play the second leg at RSL’s Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday.

The Galaxy struck in the 20th minute, as Robbie Keane took a short pass from Mike Magee, raced towards goal, then fired a volley from 22 yards out that sailed past keeper Jon Busch, bounced off the near post and crossed the goal line to even the series on aggregate. San Jose did have a chance to pull back ahead in the series in the 26th minute when Simon Dawkins from the right played a ball forward for right back Steve Beitashour towards the penalty area, Beitashour then crossed into the box, Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders and Center Back Omar Gonzalez both went for the ball, Gonzalez chested the ball down, but int he process, left an open net for Chris Wondolowski in the box, but the MLS Golden Boot winner pulled his shot over the crossbar. The Galaxy eventually made the Quakes pay in the 34th minute, as Donovan led a break and laid a perfectly weighted ball for a sprinting Keane, who then rounded Busch and slid a shot into the back net to give LA a two-goal lead in the match, but more importantly, the aggregate lead. Mike Magee added to both leads in the 39th minute, when after a sequence of touches between Landon Donovan and Sean Franklin, Donovan crossed a ball into the box and Magee’s one-time beat Busch low into the back post.

Perhaps no team was more weary of the Quakes’ propensity for late-match heroicis in 2012 than the Galaxy due to the fact that San Jose not only came from behind to steal points in all three of its meetings against LA this season and also scored in stoppage time last week to win the first leg. Sure enough, the Quakes broke through in the 82nd minute, as Sam Cronin’s corner was initially cleared out of the 18, Justin Morrow tried a volley outside of the box, but it ended up bouncing, but ended up being a blessing in disgiuse, as Alan Gordon shot the ball past Saunders near post to cut into the Galaxy advantage. San Jose did have one chance to even the series in stoppage time, as Alan Gordon took advantage of apparent miscommunication between defenders Sean Franklin and Tommy Meyer and scooped up an open ball, fed to Wondolowski, who quickly sent it forward for a sprinting Ike Opara in the penalty area, but an unmarked Opara sent his chance over the crossbar.

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DC players are United in optimism

Posted on 07 November 2012 by Steve Long

The New York (New Jersey) Red Bulls have one of the highest paid rosters in MLS and have an empty trophy case to show for it. They will be motivated tonight at home. Still, they have to realize that their salaries and good fortune on Saturday in DC are no deterrent to Ben Olsen’s United team.

The coach was sanguine about his team’s situation after tying 1-1 at home, “We obviously wanted to win today. I thought we had a good balance of going forward and making sure we didn’t get exposed in the back.

“Again, I thought there was some really good stuff offensively. We created chances. In the first half, we were a little bit rushed at times. We probably should have nicked a goal.”

He was not alone. Commenting on the classic playoff style adopted by both teams, Lewis Neal felt that the deeper restraint line was not really a hindrance to attacking, “We had a lot of decent efforts…We played particularly well in the first half.”

When Andy Najar was ejected leaving United with only ten players, Neal noted that, “We weren’t just hanging on there, (We had) one or two breakaways, one or two half looks…..It just shows the togetherness and the team spirit that we have.”

Perry Kitchen, who has carried the large burden of protecting the defenders while helping transition to attack, believes that DC’s cohesion has matured quite well, – “If we are playing the best, with good pressure, good possession, we can hang with any team. That’s just what we need to do.”

Captain Chris Pontius agreed, “I always felt good about how we matched up against them and tonight just proved it right. Like I said, we have to match their intensity up there and we’ve got to play offensively up there like we did down here.”

This year’s group has grown along with their young coach and appears not only to have bought into his approach, but to understand it well. Their unanimous confidence in each other stands out in every interview.

Possible rookie of the year, Nick DeLeon saw it clearly, “They weren’t doing much with that (the deeper restraint line used by both teams) and we picked our moments very well…We stuck together as a team and it all worked out….It really limited their chances and it’s unfortunate we couldn’t put more in the net.” After going down to ten men, it was, “Sit in tight and go on the counter if we had the opportunity.”

The wisest player on the team, Branko Boskovic put it simply, “Game like this, you must be smart…..Be patient until the last minute.” It is interesting that Olsen has frequently chosen Neal and Boskovic for simple roles that support the middle of the field. They both bring a calmness and understanding that supports and teaches the youngsters around them.

The expected horrible weather conditions tonight will favor the team that holds together best and avoids mistakes. Olsen has emphasized that cohesion as the season has progressed and the loss of Dwayne De Rosario has helped cement a team that adjusted to the loss of offense by be becoming even stingier on defense.

The original DC United followed the Bruce Arena style of pressuring all over the field. Olsen’s squad lends itself more to a withdrawn restraint line, but is otherwise the same in emphasizing maintenance of possession once obtained and a quick attack, but only when it “is on”.

Here’s how Chris Korb saw it, “In the second half after the red card you can’t do much.” That is obvious enough, but he went on to point out, “We still probably had more chances than they did. We’re fine, we’ll be ready for Wednesday.”

His confidence is well placed as he realized that United was already prepared to contain the Red Bulls as they had all game, but the team reserved the right to attack when it was on. The loss of Najar’s services will take away some of DC’s sting in either a slow buildup or a counter, but his talent is best suited to better conditions where skill predominates.

With weather the great leveler, United’s blue collar style should serve them well.

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Earthquakes Steal First Leg From Galaxy in Stoppage Time

Posted on 05 November 2012 by iyeo

All season long, the San Jose Earthquakes had developed a flair for the dramatic.

Eight times in the regular season the Quakes had found the back net in stoppage times to rescue points for the Quakes on its way to capturing the Supporters Shield, and number nine was the first of the playoffs for the Quakes, as Victor Bernardez’s free kick goal in the 94th minute of stoppage gave the Quakes a 1-0 win in the first leg of its Western Conference semifinal series against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

“I thought it was an even game,” Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said. “For an away performance, with a banged up squad, we’re obviously happy with the result.”

Bernardez’s moment came courtesy of Simon Dawkins, whose battle with Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas for a loose ball led to Dawkins going to the ground and referee Ricardo Salazar awarded a free kick for San Jose from about 31 yards out, much to the dismay of the Galaxy. Center Back Victor Bernardez stepped in with a Cuauhtémoc Blanco-like run towards the ball and his set piece took a deflection towards the right corner, keeper Josh Saunders did get to the ball, but it also got underneath him as well and the end result was the ball trickling across the goal line for yet another stoppage time goal.

“You’re trying to see through the wall, ball goes through the wall, deflects, takes a weird spin, and you’re trying to react based on what’s in front of you,” Saunders said. “My play was not acceptable, I take the blame for covering the goal, and unfortunately, that’s what happened.”

The goal gives San Jose a crucial one-goal lead heading into the second leg at San Jose, though LA certainly did its best to go into the second leg with the result in its favor. The Earthquakes did have one good look in the third minute when Ramiro Corrales sprung Chris Wondolowski with a perfect throw in from the left side into the penalty area. Wondolowski outraced Center Back Tommy Meyer for the ball, but Meyer’s last minute challenge forced Wondolowski to shoot off Meyer and thus force a corner.

The Galaxy dominated possession soon after, getting its first chance in the eighth minute when David Beckham curled a free kick into the box to Robbie Keane, but Keane’s header just missed the back post. The Galaxy then got another chance in the 39th minute when Juninho won a battle with Bernardez for a ball on the left side and immediately broke for goal. Juninho pushed inside the box and laid for Landon Donovan, who then looked for Keane inside the six, but his cross instead got behind the striker. The Galaxy continued to apply the pressure in the second half, and Keane had the best looks for LA, leading a break in the 72nd minute and firing just outside the 18, but was saved by Busch. Keane’s second chance, which occurred in the 86th minute however turned out to be the miss agonizing miss for the Galaxy, as Mike Magee beat Justin Morrow to an open ball and laid a ball off to Donovan. Donovan then cut inside and left a ball for Keane near the top of the box and let loose a volley for the left corner, only to see it hit off the crossbar.

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RSL Hold Sounders 0-0 in Seattle

Posted on 03 November 2012 by Kyle Alm

Real Salt Lake all but wrapped up the #2 seed in the Western Conference when they held Sounders to a 0-0. Zach Scott had been sent off early in the match and Sounders were able to hold off for a 0-0 draw. Salt Lake and Seattle have had a burgeoning rivalry that is comparable to either of their Cascadia Cup opponents, the largest difference being that RSL and Seattle have played more meaningful matches against each other rather than geographic proximity.

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Michael Gspurning came off of his line to make a sliding tackle on Ned Grabavoy right at the edge of the box on a through ball from midfield. Nick Rimando was also active early making a save on Brad Evans, after the Sounders midfielder made a clever timed run to get in behind the defense. Rimando came up big twice to keep his sheet clean in the 33rd minute on consecutive. Sammy Ochoa worked very hard to get his header, pushing on Chris Wingert with both hands to get into position. Ochoa’s header was saved for a corner that Jhon Kennedy Hurtado would put on frame with a ducking header was met by a more spectacular save by Rimando than the last moments before.

Jeff Parke was issued a yellow card for a foul on Espindola right before the halftime whistle blew. Espindola would not return for the second half with a hamstring injury.

Sammy Ochoa, filling in for Eddie Johnson as Fredy Montero’s strike partner, had his best opportunity to score on a cross from Brad Evans in the 57th minute. Ochoa sent the ball sailing, and Sigi Schmid called immediately for his replacement, David Estrada.

The most dramatic moment of the match came in the 67th minute when Christiam Tiffert and Nick Rimando collided in the penalty area when Rimando was coming out for the ball. The RSL goalkeeper covered his face and kicking at the ground in agony. The match would be suspended for no less than 8 minutes while Rimando received treatment to stop the bleeding above his eye. There was a confused group of fans who were heckling Rimando during this time although he was clearly receiving necessary treatment.

Sounders attack in the second half was predictable, speculative, and ultimately impotent against Nick Rimando, who continued his brilliant performance despite his injury and swelling around his eye. Rimando read and picked out crosses and continued to show excellent reflexes and reaction saves. In addition to David Estrada, Mario Martinez (82nd minute for Tiffert) and Steve Zakuani (90th+4 for Mauro Rosales) were brought on to bolster the Sounders attack, with little to no effect.

RSL did not show much offensive firepower either, and Gspurning didn’t have nearly as much to do as his counterpart. Alvaro Saborio, recently returned from injury, did not appear himself tonight. Kyle Beckerman did not appear in the stat sheet much, but was effective in controlling the midfield and distributing the ball to keep his side organized. Javier Morales also had a relatively quiet night.

There was some extra time scuffling involving Osvaldo Alonso and some RSL players and even some staff from the look of things. If this is a burgeoning rivalry it blossomed tonight, the return leg, with so much at stake should be quite an exciting affair. Eddie Johnson should be back from his hamstring injury. Fabian Espindola’s hamstring is a question mark as of post-match, his availability is unknown at this point.

The way these two sides have played against each other, and other teams, have not yielded many goals for either side. Although RSL have shown several times that they can come to Seattle and get results, the advantage of playing at home for the return leg, and potential shootout, is clear.

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Whitecaps Knocked Out by Magee & Galaxy

Posted on 02 November 2012 by Kyle Alm

If it’s the MLS Cup Playoffs, it can mean only one thing for the Los Angeles Galaxy; it’s Mike Magee’s time to shine.

 

The midfielder, who came through time after time for the Galaxy in its run to the MLS Cup last season and sent an advanced warning last Sunday with his winner against the Seattle Sounders did it again for Los Angeles in the Western Conference play-in game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday night. This time, his goal, which came in the  69th minute, was an equalizer after the Galaxy trailed for 65 minute, and Landon Donovan’s penalty kick four minutes later enabled LA to start of its 2012 playoff run in grad fashion courtesy of a 2-1 win over the Whitecaps at the Home Depot Center.

 

“Hats off to them because they made it so difficult,” Magee said. “If it would’ve gone to extra time, we would’ve had the tired legs. Hats off to them but it shows how good our team is.”

 

The win sends the Galaxy into the conference semifinals and with it, a much anticipated showdown between its archrival San Jose Earthquakes, starting Sunday evening at the Home Depot Center. The two California rivals have played three heated matches this season, with San Jose having captured the series with a 2-0-1 record. The points earned by the Quakes weren’t easy though, as they had to come from behind in all three games.

 

“We were asking for San Jose,” Magee said. “Obviously, it’s been a nice rivalry, we wanted them and now we got them.”

 

Magee’s moment came after the Galaxy had snubbed out three Whitecaps attempts on their counter attack and thus staged its own counter. LA eventually settled for a corner, Beckham went short on the corner to Juninho, who then crossed into the 18 and Magee’s right-footed volley beat keeper Brandon Knighton left post to send the Home Depot Center crowd into a frenzy.

 

“A great goal, obviously an important goal and we’re real pleased with the result, because it was not an easy game,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said.

 

Then in the 71st minute, LA got a chance to take the lead when Juninho sprung Landon Donovan into the penalty area, Defender Martin Bonjour took him down on the challenge and referee Silviu Petrescu whistled for the penalty spot. Two minutes went by before Donovan sent his penalty left while Knighton went right to put the Galaxy in front. Vancouver thought it should’ve had a penalty of its own in the 79th minute when Miller sent Thorrington into the area, LA’s Marcelo Sarvas came in for the challenge and apparently got a piece of Thorrington’s right foot as well as his face, but no call was made on that challenge and the Galaxy eventually killed off the match and thus set up its date with the Earthquakes.

 

“We had to try to break them down and get them out,” Magee said. “It showed a lot to our patience and our belief in each other to keep plugging away.”

 

Already without Center Back AJ DeLaGarza, LA received even more bad news in the days leading up to the match when midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson pulled up lame with what Arena described was a “quad injury” during practice yesterday while the tightness in the hamstring of right back Sean Franklin sustained during Sunday’s match apparently did not heal in time and both players were scratched from the final 18 for Thursday. Hector Jimenez took Franklin’s place at the RB spot and the Whitecaps took advantage, as midfielder Matt Watson turned Jimenez and charged for the penalty area. Watson then laid a ball off to Darren Mattocks and the Jamaican International’s one-timer beat Saunders, bounced off the far post and across the goal line to stake Vancouver to the lead.

“If then could’ve written up the perfect game for them, it would’ve been scoring in the third of fourth minute” Magee said.

 

LA came back with a flurry of chances throughout the rest of the first half as well as the second half that went begging  and Vancouver had a counter attack in the 69th minute and had a chance to take a two-goal lead. Whitecaps’ midfielder Matt Watson had the ball near the left corner of the 18 and laid a ball for striker Kenny Miller. Miller then touched a ball back to Watson, who quickly shot for goal, but was turned back by Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders. The ball however went to Miller, who immediately shot on the rebound, but was deflected by Center Back Tommy Meyer. Vancouver’s Barry Robson kept the threat alive, but his shot in the box was knocked away by Omar Gonzalez before Saunders finally came in to secure the ball.

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A Modest Proposal

Posted on 01 November 2012 by Steve Long

DC United fought tooth and nail through a difficult season to earn second place and a higher seeding in the MLS playoffs only to see the more favorable second game of the series moved to the lower ranked Red Bulls. The rationale for MLS’ moving the game is sound, the infrastructure around Red Bull Arena (RBA) has been severely affected by Hurricane Sandy.

In fact, the game now moved to RBA my still have to be moved if New Jersey and New York infrastructure remains shaky and it is the intent of MLS to keep it as close to RBA as feasible if such a move is required. DC United’s fans are up in arms at the loss of a hard earned advantage that has now been given to their opponents.

That advantage will apply only if the two teams are tied on total goals after each has hosted one game and a thirty minute mini-game has to be played at RBA. United would be an aggrieved party only if the tie breaker becomes necessary, so let’s look at some ways to compensate the team if that happens.

Several options present themselves. The higher seed could be given a one goal advantage in the mini-game. The higher seed could be allowed one extra substitute in that game. The higher seed could be awarded a victory in lieu of penalty kicks if the score remains tied after the extra game. Each of those solutions rewards the team that has earned a higher seed.

The only concession which MLS and Red Bulls have thus far offered adds insult to injury by giving extra ticket allocations to a group of dedicated supporters who will now have a much more difficult time traveling to support their team. That idea wins a Homer Simpson “Doh!” award.

The hurricane was predictable and MLS and Red Bulls leadership apparently failed to consider any plan B or C as it approached. It’s time for them to step up, admit error, and treat DC United fairly by awarding some compensation which will be felt by the fans as well as the team.

Barring immediate relief in the mini-game itself, perhaps MLS could award DC United the Red Bulls’ first round pick in the MLS draft or allocation money or an allocation slot. Similar trades are common enough in MLS and soccer in general and I favor this solution, but only if the extra game comes to pass.

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