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LOS ANGELES GALAXY v D.C. UNITED
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
5 p.m. PT (FSN-W; CSN-DC)
June 11, 2006 (WEEK 11) / MLS Game #67
For new Los Angeles Galaxy coach Frank Yallop, a second game in charge comes fast and furious - and it's jumping from the frying pan right into the fire. Not even 48 hours after replacing Steve Sampson in charge of the defending MLS Cup champion, Yallop faced a match against arch-rivals Chivas USA - a 2-1 loss on Thursday, extending the club's losing streak to seven games. Now D.C. United comes to town, sporting the best overall record in MLS and riding a five-game unbeaten streak after winning three games in eight days last week.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Baldomero Toledo
MLS Career: 74 games; FC/gm: 32.9; Y/gm: 4.1; R: 11; pens: 32
MLS 2006: 4 games; FC/gm: 31.3 (avg: 30.7); Y/gm: 4.1 (avg: 3.91); R: 0 (MLS: 9); pens: 1 (MLS: 14)
Games involving Galaxy: P15 W8 L1 T6; FC/gm: 31.9; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 3; pens: 7
Games involving United: P12 W4 L6 T2; FC/gm: 37.7; Y/gm: 4.9; R: 5; pens: 6
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Kyle Veris (L knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Cobi Jones (R foot sprain); MF Guillermo Gonzalez (L hamstring strain); MF Peter Vagenas (R quadriceps strain) ... D.C. UNITED - OUT: MF Santino Quaranta (R hamstring strain); DF David Stokes (hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Justin Moose (hamstring strain); DF Brandon Prideaux (MCL sprain); FW Jamil Walker (hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: Landon Donovan, Chris Albright (USA; 2006 World Cup); Cornell Glen (Trinidad & Tobago; 2006 World Cup) ... DC: Ben Olsen (2006 World Cup; USA)
WARNINGS: LA: Ugo Ihemelu (suspended next yellow card)
This is the first of two meetings this season between the long-time MLS powers, their only encounter at The Home Depot Center. Their lone meeting in Washington is set for Aug. 26.
ALL-TIME (26 meetings): Galaxy 13 wins (0 shootout), 39 goals ... United 11 wins (1 shootout), 33 goals ... 2 draws
AT LOS ANGELES: (12 meetings): Galaxy 6 wins (0 shootout), 14 goals ... United 5 wins (1 shootout), 11 goals ... 1 draw
A year ago, the teams split their two meetings, each winning on the other's home ground. The Galaxy have won games in Washington in six of the 10 MLS seasons.
United's win last year was their first in the series since 2003. They've won just three times in the last 11 meetings between the clubs.
While the Galaxy hold the upper hand in the league series, United of course have two victories in the MLS Cup Playoffs, both coming in MLS Cup Finals, in 1996 (3-2) and 1999 (2-0).
Coaches record: Frank Yallop v DC: P7 W4 L2 D1 ... Peter Nowak vs. LA: P5 W1 L2 D2
7/23: LA 0, DC 1 (Adu 90)
8/20: DC 2, LA 3 (Namoff 37; Moreno 66 - own goal 28; Donovan 53, 67)
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Frank Yallop's taking over as head coach for the Los Angeles Galaxy couldn't change a thing, their losing streak reaching seven games as they lost for the first time ever to arch-rivals Chivas USA, 2-1 at The Home Depot Center on Thursday night. The Galaxy are still in sixth place in the Western Conference, with seven points from 12 matches, now four points behind Real Salt Lake and six points behind Chivas USA.
Chivas USA had won back-to-back games for the first time in club history, while the Galaxy came in riding a six-game losing streak - also a club record - and hadn't won a home game on the season (their one win in '06 at The Home Depot Center came as the "visitors" in the first Super Clasico of the season).
With the Galaxy wearing yellow and blue, instead of their usual green and gold, mimicking CD Guadajalara's hated rivals Club América, it didn't take long for Chivas USA to strike in Frank Yallop's debut in charge of the Galaxy, Ante Razov scoring twice in the opening 21 minutes.
In the 16th minute, Francisco Mendoza drove in a curling cross from the left corner and Razov met it near the penalty spot with a full-blooded volley that sailed over Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman and into the roof of the goal.
Then five minutes he doubled the Chivas lead with another clinical finish. This time Juan Francisco Palencia's sublime pass with the outside of his foot found Sacha Kljestan, who hit Razov outside the area. Razov side-footed a rolling shot inside Hartman's right-hand post for his league-leading eighth goal of the campaign.
It took the Galaxy just six minutes to pull a goal back. A disjointed free kick outside the area was corralled by Herculez Gomez, who set off on a dribbling run across the field. He hit a rolling shot from 25 yards that slipped past Chivas 'keeper Preston Burpo and inside the right post.
But despite near-complete domination over the final 45 minutes, the Galaxy couldn't find a second goal and Chivas held on for their first victory in seven meetings all-time in all competitions.
In his first match in charge, Yallop made one change to the team that lost 2-1 to Houston Dynamo the previous Saturday. Josh Gardner came in on the right side of midfield, Herculez Gomez moving forward to partner John Wolyniec in attack as Alan Gordon went to the substitutes' bench.
Here's Yallop's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Nathan Sturgis, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant - Josh Gardner (Quavas Kirk 68), Paulo Nagamura, Marcelo Saragosa, Kyle Martino - John Wolyniec (Alan Gordon 63), Herculez Gomez. [Substitutes Not Used: Benjamin Benditson, Marc Burch, Steve Cronin, Michael Enfield, Troy Roberts]
"We are disappointed with the result of the game, but I can't fault the guys for their effort tonight. Our finishing and our quality - when it needed to be good was lacking a bit," Yallop said. "It's a start for us. I think the guys gave it everything they had. I think when you look at the second half they had one good chance, and we had a number of good situations where we maybe should have done better."
Yallop didn't have much time with his new charges prior to the match. He arrived in town Wednesday when he was named head coach of the Galaxy, and by Thursday evening he was leading them in the Super Clasíco.
"We did do some good things, and put ourselves in good positions during the game. That is something positive out of this game. Coming out of this game, we got beat 2-1, but we had shot two [shots on goal] and scored one goal," he said. I think we had pretty good situations and moved the ball quite smartly at times. All that stuff will come with more training, more rhythm and more games. In the end I was happy with they way we performed."
With one-third of the season gone, the Galaxy are still trying to find an identity and style on the field. Still, Yallop was pleased with his team's effort after the game.
"If you look at the teams I have coached, they will give effort. There is no getting away from that. We need the quality in certain situations, but if you look at the game I think we played pretty well for what we had," said Yallop. "It is a young team and inexperienced in certain positions. I am brand new. I don't know the players that well, but just from the team talk and what we did yesterday at practice, I think we executed quite well. The two situations we weren't good at punished us. That is the cruel game we are involved in. Hats off to [Ante] Razov, he had two great finishes."
All three goals came in the opening half an hour of play. While the opening 20 minutes clearly belonged to Chivas, Yallop felt as though his side had the better of play over the final 70 minutes.
"What I don't want to do is sit back and wait to see what happens. Every team that I have coached has to be on their front foot making sure that we put the team that we are playing under pressure," he said. "We try to do that the whole game, but at times it was difficult tonight. They are a pretty good side. They have some players that are difficult to play against. I do feel that we had the flow of play, especially in the second half."
The Galaxy players noticed the change on the field as well. "Overall I thought our effort was great. I thought our attitude was good," said Tyrone Marshall. "We were looking to go forward, we were knocking the ball around. That's a positive going forward. I can see some light at the end of the tunnel for sure."
Even though the Galaxy lost for the seventh time in a row, for the first time ever to their L.A. rivals, and still haven't won at home, the mood in the locker room was surprisingly upbeat.
"I think we're on the right path," said goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. "It's frustrating to say that when you're in the midst of a losing streak, but at the same time you have to put forth a great effort. You have to make sure you're sharp on everything. I think we were a bit sharper on some things, and maybe we're not quite there on other things."
D.C. United extended their unbeaten streak to five games, winning for the fourth time in that streak and taking over the lead in the MLS overall table, claiming a 1-0 victory against the New England Revolution last Saturday at RFK Stadium. United now have 24 points from 11 matches, leading joint second-place Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards by 10 points, and leading the overall table by three points ahead of FC Dallas.
United extended their unbeaten streak to five games - winning their third game in a row - while also increasing their lead atop the Eastern Conference with the victory against the Revolution.
Moreno hit for the game's only goal in the 14th minute, although it had a whisper of controversy. Christian Gomez looped a ball over the Revolution defense and while they held their line, the flag stayed down and Moreno raced in alone on New England 'keeper Matt Reis, rounding the netminder and rolling the ball into the open goal as center back Michael Parkhurst just failed to keep it from crossing the line.
An already injury-ravaged Revolution were struck a blow very early on, when Pat Noonan was forced off the field after again suffering a hamstring injury.
United boss Peter Nowak ran out the same team for the third match in a row, making no changes to the team that defeated the Columbus Crew 5-1 at home at midweek.
Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Troy Perkins - Bryan Namoff, Bobby Boswell, Facundo Erpen - Joshua Gros, Brian Carroll, Clyde Simms, Freddy Adu - Christian Gomez (Domenic Mediate 66) - Alecko Eskandarian (Lucio Filomeno 75), Jaime Moreno. [Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Carroll, Devon McTavish, Matt Nickell, Nick Rimando, John Wilson]
"We got nine points in a week, in very difficult weather conditions," said Nowak. "I'm very proud of this team. They did everything I asked for and they did everything right. It's easy to win 3-, 4-, 5-0 and it's very difficult to win 1-0, and to keep playing and carry the situation."
It was a busy week for United, with three matches in eight days against Eastern Conference competition, and D.C. came away with victories in each, scoring eight goals while allowing just two.
"The team we have right now, we should not lose to anybody in this league; we shouldn't," said Freddy Adu. "When D.C. United comes to play on any given day, we're hard to beat."
A key to the run has been the consistency in midfield. Simms returned from injury three games ago, and Nowak has kept his side unchanged over the last three games, Simms taking Ben Olsen's role in the center of the park alongside Brian Carroll behind Christian Gomez.
"Clyde and Brian Carroll do a lot of dirty jobs. So we had to make sure that Clyde came back from the injury, and he is really connecting with the other players," Nowak said. "Sometimes it's difficult to play forward because of the two defensive midfielders we have there, so it's a responsibility for him and Brian to also move the play forward. I think both of them did a great job today."
Still, said Carroll, it is a little bit of a different look to the United engine room. "Ben's a little bit more in between, a little bit more going forward, but still pays attention to his defensive role. Clyde and I just rotate a little bit defensively and keep the ball, more focused on the defensive side of things, and keeping track of runners going through from the midfield, forward into our half," he said.
In addition, Josh Gros and Adu have settled into their roles as wide midfielders in Nowak's 3-5-2 scheme. "Sometimes my side gets overplayed, so he [Nowak] tries to get me more room, more space on the offensive side. Sometimes other teams try to play the ball up my side and make me play a lot more defense than maybe Peter wants me to and I spend a little too much energy playing on the defensive side," Adu said. "So he likes to switch Josh and me and try to get me a little more offensively. That's great for me, because I love going at people."
Nowak felt the Revolution tried a physical approach with his attacking spearhead of Moreno, Eskandarian and Gomez, and unlike last year's MLS Cup Playoffs, when he felt his team crumbled before the Chicago Fire under a similar tactic, the United boss said that won't happen again.
"I think Jaime and Christian got abused tonight, and I have a message for the other teams: It's not going to work," Nowak said. "We have enough guys who can take the responsibility and we have to do something about it, because Jaime got abused all over the field, Christian the same. The people start kicking them every time they touch the ball. I think they're supposed to play soccer. I was very proud of them, they keep their head in the game, they still kept playing."