Tutino's Take: One down, one to go
CHAMPIONS! OK. One down, one to go. A huge weight was lifted off the Galaxy's shoulders last Wednesday night when the club figured out FC Dallas and captured their second Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez came through with another "Herculean" effort with his sixth goal in cup play. However, the question a lot of people have is, so how big is this title for this club? Well, let's see here – huge, colossal and enormous are good words to describe it.
I know. I saw the headlines: 'Galaxy win A Trophy.' One columnist even said MLS doesn't care about it. Proof is the fact that clubs did not send their No. 1 teams during the tournament. Maybe so, but here is where I say to you, reserves or not, in Los Angeles championships are expected. It's just the way it is. So to those who say MLS clubs sent mostly reserves and that is an indicator the league doesn't rate the tournament, I say even if the Galaxy reserves were sent, the expectation would still be the same for this club, win the title. Therefore, give them props and stop tearing down the accomplishment, because if the Galaxy had somehow lost in this tournament, to the Minnesota Thunder or FC Dallas, those same critics would torch the club.
Here's where this tournament becomes important. When you add the name Lamar Hunt to anything in the American sports world it is very important. To those who knock this tournament, they should understand it is the oldest soccer tournament in this country – 90 years. Hmmm, sounds like a bit of soccer history in the colonies, eh? Yes, that alone carries enough weight for it to be taken seriously. And when you add Lamar Hunt's name to the trophy, it's a big deal. It's a shame the soccer media in this country still kisses up to those who frown on the sport. Let's bash the sport WE cover and everyone will like us. Hilarious.
I read where one scribe wrote this tournament stands behind the MLS Cup (absolutely) and behind the Supporters' Shield for best record in the league. OK, stop. MLS history proves – as these same writers have said – the regular season doesn't mean much since so many teams make the postseason. So how can a championship in tournament play rank behind a regular season title that has proven in the past that the top teams in the regular season do not always take home the cup? How can that be more important or more prestigious? See 2004 D.C. United. Right, it's not. Congratulations Galaxy. Job well done, but it's not complete yet.
I do agree this championship does not make for a successful season. The goal is a double and this is just half of it. And for me a double does not mean the Supporters' Shield. Sorry, it's all about the jewelry. Nobody remembers the regular season points leader. History notes champions.
So half of the objective has been accomplished and maybe this is the kick in the pants this club needed to get back on track, maybe. Losing could have sent this team down the porcelain fixture, but that did not happen and now they just might have new life after all.
Saturday night the club took another step in the right direction as they pummeled FC Dallas again, but only found the net twice. It was enough, 2-1 Galaxy. It could have been 6-1 with two more goals for Herculez. That's 11 for the kid. I'm thinking club MVP. Yes, I know all about Landon Donovan. Two questions to be asked here: Where would the Galaxy be if they had Landon all season? Question number two: Where would the Galaxy be if Herculez did not net 11 goals? Both are fair questions.
The win moved the club into second place in the MLS West with one more game to go for LA. The problem is Dallas has two games in hand and so does Colorado, but part of those two games is a face-to-face meeting next week. A tie in that match and the Galaxy take at least 3rd in the conference and with a little help will salvage home field in the Western Conference Semifinals. As we have said, the goal for this club is the double and these are the cards that have been dealt. They could panic and fall apart like a house of cards or do what they have done in their last two matches. Personally, I prefer the latter.
Size those ring fingers boys! One championship down ... one more to go.
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.