Tutino: Taking care of business
Well, the boys took care of business ON THE ROAD. AWAY FROM THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES, OUTSIDE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. Holy cow, they just might move up the all important 'power rankings' now. Give me a break. This Galaxy club did take care of business at D.C. United. So what does it mean?
To me, the Galaxy winning away from home means I can see the boys smile a bit at the team hotel. They can finally relax and do what they do best - and that is execute the way they know how. It's really kind of funny. Oh what will those silly writers on the East Coast say now about the club? The Green and Gold went to your backyard and took down the defending champions. Furthermore, if it weren't for D.C. 'keeper Nick Rimando coming up huge at times, this game would not have been as close as the score indicated. The Galaxy executed away from home. Thank goodness. Get that look of constipation off your faces and let's move on.
I loved to see the energy from Cobi Jones. He's taken it personally out there the last few games. You can see it in his play. He surpassed the great Mauricio Cienfuegos as the Galaxy's all-time assists leader. If you count the tally from Bobby Boswell (own goal), He's two past Cien. I'm kidding, but it still was a great drive across the goal mouth. You just never know what can happen when you put a ball with pace across the six. In this case, goal and an early lead. Oh, and how important was that? It was huge.
The early goal helped the Galaxy take control of the tempo of the match. As Rick Davis and I did the match, we could see the Galaxy's play begin to frustrate the likes of Jaime Moreno and if not for the penalty kick, Moreno might have disappeared to the wings altogether. Great job by the back four in this one; Pablo Chinchilla and Tyrone Marshall did a nice job of bottling up the middle. Nice chess match on the part of coach Steve Sampson, who quickly went to Ugo Ihemelu when Jamil Walker came on to the pitch. Ugo did get whistled for the penalty, but I'm not going to fault effort. I will say, Ugo, go back and look at the call against Michael Umana a game earlier at Chicago. Use those shoulders and hips to force the bad angle and Kevin Hartman can take care of the rest at the very worst. What's harder to save? The potential bad angle shot or one from the spot? No worries, though; experience will solve that.
Ned Grabavoy got the start on the right side of midfield, but quickly the Galaxy switched to their more standard look of Cobi and Chris Albright combining on the right and Grabs went to the left and notched in toward the center of the pitch. All in all, I thought Grabavoy did a good job. At least the effort was there. I'm not so sure he's a wide player, but hey, I'm just a broadcaster. For him the important thing should be he's on the field with the starting eleven. The ball is on your foot, kid. What happens now is totally in your control.
Just when you think Landon Donovan has disappeared, he reminds you he's playing the best way he can, by scoring. That's what happened Saturday. He had somewhat of a quiet start as the Galaxy struggled to find him in the middle, but once he adjusted a bit, he stung United. Scoreboard: it's the most important stat of all.
BACK TO THE BAY AREA ... It's time for the Galaxy to return to San Jose. This time they have an opportunity to do some damage and close the gap in the Western Conference to three points. Is it a must win? No, but why make future matches must-win situations when you can bank the points now and control your own destiny?
Spartan Stadium is the epitome of the phrase, "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line." The attack in this one must come straight through the middle. You have to be quicker to the ball, no exceptions. The field is just too small to attack from the wings and there is no reason for the backs to have to spread wide because they have the help of their little friend called the touchline. Quick, precise touches through the middle will launch players other than Landon Donovan in this match. We already know Danny Califf is going to be hammering him every chance he gets. And that's Danny's job. He did it in a Galaxy uniform. There is no reason to think he won't do it now that he's facing his former club. In fact, I guarantee it. So for this match, I say to Landon, thank you for taking the pounding in advance. The big question is who is going to step up and be that player who stings the Quakes?
Oh, and I still hope San Jose stays in San Jose. Let's go computer geeks. Buy the club. Keep it there. Build the club the facility it deserves. That's all I have to say about that.
I wonder if we'll see any more Landon Donovan piñatas? Funny stuff.
OK, THE U.S. IS ALL BUT IN ... I critiqued the use of the top MLS players for the CONCACAF Gold Cup just because it was too taxing on the players themselves as they try to help their clubs. Let's not forget, we're still building a league here. I still feel the same. The game has improved to the point where the Gold Cup needs to find a new time of year to be played. Here's the "but." With the United States all but qualified for Germany 2006, there really is one more match the Red, White and Blue should gear up for and that's against Mexico. I'm one who believes the United States is already the power of the region, which means I'm one of the few who's not trying to suck up to other media types and definitely not one who was just assigned to cover the sport because no one else is available. It's such an easy road to downplay the game here instead of actually doing your job and realizing how good the United States actually is. Number six in the FIFA World Rankings. See, I already did a little work for you.
For many years the U.S. has proved its dominance only to have the 'Well, you haven't done it when it matters' card shoved in their faces. If that is the case, the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea is proof positive. The next step is doing it again Sept. 3 at a sold-out Columbus Crew Stadium. Oh, but there is the one problem about winning in Mexico City. Tossing an assortment of objects at players of the opposing team is actually against the law in this country. Imagine that.
This is one match I hope Bruce Arena pulls out all the stops given the right opportunity and, once and for all, sounds the alarm that the United States is second to none in CONCACAF. Ahhh ... I'm glad I got that off my chest.
Joe Tutino is in his seventh season as the English radio voice of the Los Angeles Galaxy. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of the Los Angeles Galaxy or Major League Soccer.