Tutino's Take: Ten minutes short
Well, for 80 minutes it was better than could have been imagined. For 80 minutes the Galaxy had stifled and frustrated the Kansas City Wizards. For 80 minutes it was three points in the bank and solid footing in second place in the Western Conference. Too bad the match went 90 minutes and the Galaxy snatched one point from the jaws of three.
There were many good things to take from the Galaxy's match at Kansas City Saturday night. Another goal for Herculez Gomez (the kid can play) and Chris Albright got his first. Landon Donovan with two helpers off corners. All good things. Steve Cronin made his MLS debut and had good command of the penalty area, especially in the first half. Ugo Ihemelu returned to the starting lineup and most likely rebuilt some lost confidence over recent matches. There were many good things to take from this one. Joseph Ngwenya drove Nick Garcia crazy. Joltin Joe was unlucky three minutes in on his diving header that somehow found goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi. Still, a nice confidence builder. Just 10 minutes and even less than that - call it six minutes of a brain cramp and suddenly a potential three points on the road turned into just one.
One move led to this mild disappointment. I say mild because and let's be honest here, with such a radical change in the lineup (Cronin in goal for Kevin Hartman, Troy Roberts at right back, Albright wide right for Cobi Jones, Donovan to midfield for Pete Vagenas, and Ngwenya starts up top), one point away from home would have been acceptable. A 2-2 tie would have been fine. But, oh how nice three points would have been.
The tide in this game really turned when Wizards coach Bob Gansler brought on Preki. Suddenly everything went through him as far as the attack was concerned, and a 95-year-old Preki can still bring it for five minutes in Major League Soccer. He immediately created chances for himself, as well as his teammates. His trademark against the grain runs continue to turn defenders inside out. He ruined Pando down the stretch - and why with just minutes from time this Galaxy club insists on handling the ball in their defensive third is going to give me high blood pressure. How many points have been lost this season because of late game breakdowns? Again, I say if someone said to me the Galaxy would earn a point away from home, I'd say OK, I'll take it. But I, like you, am greedy. I wanted the three points. They should have gotten the three points. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Damn, what a horrible flight home.
Time to move on. A U.S. Open Cup title awaits and another 17 meetings with FC Dallas. At least that's the way it's playing out down the stretch. Let's see here, L.A. play at Dallas Wednesday and host Dallas on the 28th (call 1- 877-3-Galaxy for tickets) in the Open Cup final. Outside of a total collapse by either side, the Galaxy face Dallas in the MLS Cup Western Conference Semifinals. Think these clubs will know each other by then?
Trying to put this all in perspective...should the Galaxy have won? Absolutely. Did the club accomplish a point away from home with a lineup never seen before? Yes. But, yes I know, they should have won. I know.
THE BATTLE FOR SECOND... It begins Wednesday at Dallas. To me there is a race for second because the Galaxy have left the door open. I'm not talking smack here. Just look at the last month of the campaign. FC Dallas is still in the hunt because the Galaxy have not gotten it done - to this point that is. I believe this club is poised to make its run for the cups, U.S. Open and MLS, respectively. Yes, I believe this Galaxy team will be in Dallas in November; Nov. 13 to be exact and playing for a double. But first things first, take care of business Wednesday night.
THE NASL IS HONORED... This Sunday, the old North American Soccer League was honored. Some 75 players from the league that was going to take America by storm were on hand in Dallas, the home of the old Dallas Tornado. These were the people who worked their tales off and eventually created what we now know as the Dallas Cup. Personally, I like that nickname, Tornado, better but ... I applaud what FC Dallas did this weekend. It's good to make the connection with the sport's history in this country. Maybe one day we'll get to the point where MLS clubs for one weekend a season dawn the colors and nicknames of those old clubs. Yeah, it would be pretty cool to see the LA Aztecs face the New York Cosmos once again, but this time in the state of the art home for soccer, The Home Depot Center. That was the dream back in the 70's. No reason it shouldn't happen now.
A FUNNY MOMENT IN K.C.... Have you ever found yourself in a place where you look around and say, "I think they made a movie about this?" Checking in to the team hotel Friday night I found myself looking at real life characters from the movie "Best in Show" or "A Mighty Wind." In this case the impressive people from "Master Gardeners." Yes, these are the types of conventions that happen in America's heartland. I think the last time we were in K.C. it was the Veterinary Heart Association. Wild and crazy people. You just knew Eugene Levy was filming his next movie.
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.