Playoffs Scoreboard

Recap
Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
0SEA
RECAP
Recap
Leg 2
11/30 9:00pm
SEA
LA
ESPN
Western Conference Championship
Recap
Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1NY
2NE
RECAP
Recap
Leg 2
11/29 3:00pm
NE
NY
NBCSN
Eastern Conference Championship

TCS: It's a nice day for a car wash

Antonio Cue: get your washcloth ready.

The Honda Super Clasico, Part Dos, is set for Saturday on Victoria Street, and the two team presidents have another bet: loser washes the winner's car in front of the Home Depot Center on Tuesday.

But while on paper this one looked like it would be a bloodletting, suddenly after a terrible result against the Crew on Wednesday night, the Galaxy are a side surrounded by questions. Then again, if there is any team to get well against these days, it is battered Chivas USA.

We apparently have learned this about the Galaxy so far: (1) they can't win on the road, (2) they can't win without Landon Donovan and (3) they can't beat the mighty Columbus Crew (although both games have been sans Landon, so rule 2 also applies here).

But what we are also learning is something I mentioned in a recent column and am beginning to believe more and more every week: if the Galaxy are truly going to be an elite team - one that will challenge FC Dallas for the title and then do well in CONCACAF Champions' Cup play - I think they are still one player away: an out-and-out striker.

A team that has so many ideas going forward simply should have scored more than 14 goals so far - a total which trails Dallas, K.C. and the Revs. There have been way too many games where this team has created chance after chance and taken few of them. Landon Donovan will score goals, but when the Galaxy are at their best, it will be with him pulling the strings and orchestrating the attack. He will get his share of goals, but the Galaxy do need a sniper up top to really bring their offense into full song - and to hold down the fort when Landon is away with the national team.

But this Saturday's opponent is a Chivas USA side that just gave up a five-spot at home to the mighty Hoops and is reeling big time. The return of Martin Zuniga in goal stabilized things for all of 31 seconds last Sunday, as neither he nor anyone in the home side could stop the bleeding.

At some point, Thomas Rongen might get sacrificed in favor of assistant coach Zully Ledesma, who the talk is was always going to take over for Rongen in Year Two. While we all scratched our heads at the hiring of the very affable Rongen before the season, I'm not sure the blame can fall fully on his shoulders, despite his willingness to holster the burden in the media. I've said it before, and I will say it again: this team simply does not have the players to compete in MLS. Sacking Rongen now really would not make much sense, no matter how much Chivas USA has failed to capture the inspiration of the parent club or the imagination of its fans here on Planet LA.

THE NEWS: Scoring in MLS is currently at 2.83 goals per game this season, up from 2.61 last season.

TCS SAYS: While the difference is not huge, there is one factor I have seen that I believe is at least contributing to the scoring: some very average goalkeeping. For a league that has produced top-class keepers from Brad Friedel to Tim Howard, where is that quality right now?

If you look up and down the goalkeeping leaders stats this year, do you see names that you think will be the next national team stars or taking their talents to huge clubs abroad? For a country that has been called something of a goalkeeping factory in the past, the starters in MLS right now simply don't seem to be at the level they have often been in the past.

Yes, there have been some really soft goals given up this year, but that is not even the point. Just from an overall perspective, I am more interested to see guys like Brad Guzan and Jay Nolly, highly-touted rookies who are reserves, than the current crop of usual suspects like Kevin Hartman, Nick Rimando and Joe Cannon - very good goalkeepers who have not had stellar campaigns in 2005.

Then again, if a downtrend in goalkeeping means more scoring, that is fine by me ...

THE NEWS: Liverpool defeats AC Milan in one of the most cracking UEFA Champions League finals in recent memory.

TCS SAYS: If you haven't seen it yet, find a copy. Trailing 3-0 at the interval, completely outclassed and left for dead, Liverpool ran off perhaps the most remarkable six minutes in Champions League history - scoring three times in that span in the second half to bring the affair level. And before winning in penalties, Liverpool somehow dodged a bullet in the dying minutes of extra time when Milan's Andriy Shevchenko failed to bang in a rebound three yards (if that) in front of goal. Absolutely breathtaking stuff.

And kudos go to presenter Derek Rae on ESPN, who immediately recognized that Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek's spaghetti-leg distractions before the Milan penalties were a throwback to what former Reds keeper Bruce Grobbelaar did in the 1984 European Cup Final against Roma.

Rae did not mention, however, whether Dudek had fixed any matches - or if the Grobbelaar impersonation was limited to distracting penalty takers.

GRAB A COLD BUD (OR AQUAFINA) AND PUT YER FEET UP:

WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING:

Saturday - ENG-ER-LAND at USA (3 p.m. ET on ESPN): It looks sexy on paper, but remember this is absolutely nothing more than a tuneup for the games that really matter: June 4 and June 8. Just hope no one gets hurt against what is basically a glorified England B-squad.

Saturday - RAPIDS at REVS (7:30 p.m. ET on Direct Kick): Despite missing some of their regulars due to national team duty, this one should be another W for the rolling Revs.

FLICK-ONS:

Dema, on Dema: "I told people that's one of my goals this year: I'm not going to go crazy, I just have to concentrate on the game."

Your TCS movie review of the week, at no extra charge: go see the new "Star Wars" flick. While the first two episodes of the prequel were like watching the Columbus Crew offense, the third one finally got it right.

So apparently despite the fact I know nothing about footie, I do know what kind of music 12-year-old girls like. There's something to hang your hat on. Yup, look back to the February 24 edition of TCS, where you will find your old pal Tino calling American Idol's Carrie Underwood "the best performer hands down" and the "FC Dallas of the competition." On Wednesday, Underwood won the competition, this despite having the worst on-air presence this side of Roy Wegerle.

It's bad enough to get traded, but how much must it burn to get traded for a portion of an allocation? Man, it's one thing to be traded for a player to be named later ... but how about only getting traded for a portion of a player to be named later?

Always getting the scoops, our man Steven Goff in D.C. got Piotr Nowak to cough up the name of the young Argentine defender who is coming in to replace the traded Mike Petke: Diego Maradona. Man, I guess the guy really did lose all that weight.

Last weekend in Chicago, Andrew Golota, a Polish heavyweight stiff, was fighting another stiff named Lamon Brewster for one of boxing's 479 championship belts in front of Golota's faithful, flag-waving fans. One minute after the opening bell, Golota had been floored three times and it was over. Said one fan at the fight to another: "I'm bummed our boy stinks, but I'm kind of used to it." To which the other fan replied: "Oh, you're a Fire fan, too?"

The Clean Sheet runs each Thursday on MLSnet. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com. Send any questions and comments to tcsresponses@yahoo.com


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