Tutino: Without finishing, it's game over
Audio: The Galaxy Report - 7/28/05
How many times growing up did you hear your coach say, "Finish the play, Follow through on the shot"? Name the sport and I'm sure you've heard it. The coaches pound that into you. Saturday the Galaxy fell because those phrases were not heard. Final execution led to their downfall against Freddy Adu and D.C. United.
When you really think about it, it's been a thorn in the Galaxy's side all season. That final step to scoring a goal. The build-up is good. It could be better, but it's good. The final step is just bad. It's bad. It has to get much better if this club is going to live up to expectations.
I understand where coach Steve Sampson is coming from when he says the club played well.
"I thought that up until the 90th minute it was a good performance. Not a great performance, but a good performance from the standpoint that we created a number of opportunities. I thought defensively for most of the match, we had United fairly well controlled. I think we got a little greedy towards the end and started looking for the win and opened up in the midfield and got caught very flat and allowed the counterattack and a good finish by Freddy [Adu]," he said after the match.
He's right. There were plenty of opportunities. Cobi Jones had chance. Herculez Gomez had a couple. You have to bury the one in the second half, Herc. A goal is beautiful no matter how it goes in, and if you see Nick Rimando giving you the space for a nutmeg, take it. You showed great heart and passion though, keep it up. Joseph Ngwenya looked good in his return. Somebody take the steel toe out of his boots though. That first touch will need to improve.
From the press box, it looked like the boys got a bit tired, and here's where one of the major problems lies. To me, Sampson got handcuffed by some bad play forcing substitutions at the wrong time for the wrong positions. Alan Gordon, for now, is a 70th minute sub. Pando Ramirez, how can I say this? It was the worst game I saw him play. It's time for a change there. I don't care that he hasn't scored. He needs to do more on that left side to combine with the forwards and Todd Dunivant out of the back. What about Cobi's cross in the second half, or Michael Enfield's run down the left? You have to trail the play for opportunities. Sitting and watching as he did Saturday is unacceptable. Has MLS become too competitive for Central Americans?
Anyway, back to my point. Sampson had to make two substitutions at the forward position Saturday, pulling an ineffective Gordon at the half, putting Ngwenya in and then moving Enfield back to midfield for Pando. This forced Peter Vagenas to stay on. The captain looked spent. It also forced Chris Albright to go 90 minutes. Chris played well, but I don't think anyone had him penciled in for the entire match. The Galaxy had one more change to make, but Tyrone Marshall goes down with an injury and it wasn't readily clear if the Jamaican Sensation would have to be pulled. So what to do? In the end Sampson decided to go with what he had on the pitch, assuming he felt he had has his best 11 on the park. If the starters execute the coach can better manage the match.
MY STARTING ELEVEN ... Kevin Hartman in goal. Defenders: Dunivant, Marhsall, Ugo Ihemelu, Albright. Midfielders: Jovan Kirovski (he can play there and Jovan works hard out there), Paulo Nagamura, Vagenas, Jones. Forwards: Landon Donovan (when he returns), Gomez. The kid has earned a long look. Just how I see it.
THE CIRCUS WAS IN TOWN ... That's how it looks every time Nick Rimando has to deal with a corner kick or cross. It's an adventure. And he does it with a net at his back. No elephants or bearded women though.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LCD BOARDS? ... I loved them. Bring them back, please. And have them go all the way across behind the goals. Big time look.
FREDDY COMES THROUGH ... I kept an eye on the kid much of the match Saturday. To summarize, it's one-on-11 when Freddy has the ball. He hasn't fit in yet, but he will. His goal was very much like last year's goal against the Galaxy. This one came down the middle, the other one from the right wing. With both, lots of ankles and knees were snapping as he put defenders down on the turf.
MORE DAY GAMES ... As I have said before, it's time to train the fans to spend a day at the soccer stadium enjoying a soccer match on a Saturday afternoon. I see a 2 p.m. start from East Coast to West on the weekends, a Friday night regional game and a Sunday afternoon affair as well. Plenty of fields for youth games to be played at The Home Depot Center, a little picnic and then watch the pros. Perfect summer afternoon.
GOLD CUP ... Nice job Red, White and Blue. Still think this is a much bigger event after the World Cup. Now bring Landon back to the Galaxy. Oh look, real grass at Giants Stadium. A novel idea.
Joe Tutino is in his seventh season as the English radio voice of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Send him feedback at email@example.com. 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.