Like a Pet on Independence Day: LAG 2, RSL 6

 

As the neighborhood expressed joy at the continued freedom of the USA with crackles, pops and booms, the dog took up nervous residence under our bed.

A few hours later I would join him, gazing with forlorn envy at the plastic calming collar around his neck.

Pets typically have a crap Independence Day.  This year, so too did fans of the LA Galaxy.

You feel for the critters, as their little faces look to you in terrified confusion over the relentless, unexplained bombardment of their senses and you only wish you could ease their suffering with an explanation; an assurance that things are alright.  You also feel for your pets, when fireworks scare them.

As my friend and I discussed whether to watch the fireworks display scheduled for after the game, or use the distraction to get out of the parking lot quickly, I expressed disappointment that he was leaning towards the former.

I’ve enjoyed such displays in the past but at this point in my life, I feel I’ve seen all that the standard aerial pyrotechnic display has to offer.  Besides, there would be plenty of booms and bright lights over the California skyline throughout the evening.  I didn’t need to be rooted to the spot on a stadium concourse to appreciate them.

Regardless, after watching the Galaxy defence for 85 minutes, we decided we’d seen enough things get dramatically blow apart for one evening.

A 6-2 loss, at home to RSL, a team currently averaging 1 point per game in MLS, the “2” flattered LA.  Though come to thing of it, the number two is actually a fairly poignant symbol for the overall display.

That makes three losses in a row, after a purple patch of seven games unbeaten, cruelly dangled hope in front of us after an abysmal start to the season.

Curt Onalfo’s defenders (a painful three-word combination in any current context) may point to what is undoubtedly an injury crisis.

I would respond by pointing at AJ DeLaGarza and Leonardo, two defenders who are performing capably for the Houston Dynamo, after we traded them there for no obvious reason.  The fact that I’d welcome the brain-fart maestro that is Leonardo into our lineup today, should speak volumes.

Looking higher up the table, we see Chicago having a strong season.  In their midfield is one Juninho; a player integral to the Galaxy’s successes during the Bruce Arena era.

Even though he was available, the G’s management apparently felt that the aging injury-prone, but expensive Jermaine Jones and a baffling seven-figure transfer fee for Joao Pedro, were better choices for our midfield.

Forgive me then, if I don’t see a roster stripped of depth and reliant on LA Galaxy II semi-graduates for cover, as easily excused now that the inevitable “injury problems” have arrived.

If this approach is – as I heard rumoured ahead of the season – the product of AEG wanting to see a return on their youth development investment, I can only hope that this is a poor interpretation, or bad implementation by the FO, of the ownership’s desires.

If AEG genuinely expected to see the bulk or even a majority of young G-II reserves, one day starting for the first team, then I thank Anschutz and Co for their years of investment in not just this team but MLS as a whole, and respectfully request that they sell the club to more soccer-savvy ownership and move on.

This kind of expectation is entirely unreasonable and unrealistic for youth development.  Most youth players won’t ultimately make the cut.  Even if you’re lucky enough to hit a golden generation, that by its very nature cannot be by design.  After all, even Manchester United’s fabled “Class of ’92” had Jovan Kirovski playing in it.

I’ll give AEG the benefit of the doubt though, and go with the theory that the General Manager Pete Vagenas and President Chris Klein, have dropped the ball.  Both the hiring of Curt Onalfo and general roster strategy was met by many, with a blend of trepidation and skepticism at the start of the year.  Those concerns were sadly not misplaced.

Back to the game itself and my previous fears about the ruination of Clement Diop are coming to fruition.  The game against Sporting Kansas City produced a pair of goalkeeping gaffes so spectacular that they’re true contenders for the type of historic bloopers reel that Ronnie Rosenthal’s crossbar moment or the Shay Given/Dion Dublin incident (I’m sure they’re on Youtube) feature on.

The kid has gone from “green and flawed” to “Josh Wicks” in an all-too-short space of time.  While he mercifully escaped anything so calamitous this evening, his performance was still shoddy.

The thing that disturbed me most about this particular game though, wasn’t any particular player or goal but rather the strategy employed by RSL between goals 5 and 6.

Earlier in the game, they’d been dabbling in quick passing and interplay, with a generous sprinkling of tricks and dribbling (yes, they made RSL look that talented).  I noted that after the 5th goal, Salt Lake saw fit to simply keep lofting the ball forward.

It was as if the performance of the Galaxy diminished the respect of the opposition so much as the game went on, that RSL started to feel that clever tricks and moves were a waste of effort, when they could just kick the ball in the direction of our goal and wait for a Galaxy player to balls it all up.

The sad part is, the strategy paid off.

We once again saw a strange formation and mixture of players on the field by the final whistle, with Emmanuel Boateng playing at one point in what I could have sworn was a fullback position.

The only thing more baffling is that a web search of “Curt Onalfo” this morning, brings no news of his sacking.

While I’m sure the (largely self-inflicted) injury situation exacerbated this weekend’s scoreline, I feel like the Galaxy need to make a change sooner, rather than later.

With most leagues around the world out of season and transfer targets (and indeed, coaches) at their most available, there is no time like the present.

Kudos to Ema – along with Romain Alessandrini, one of the rare bright spots of the season so far – for summing up the result so effectively:

“It’s ****ing Embarrassing”

At least on July 5th, my little fuzzy buddy can come out from under the furniture and greet the other 364 days of the year with his usual doggy enthusiasm.  Myself, I think I’ll stay here for a little while longer.

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