Anyone have the answers? Anyone? I'm not so sure right now. While this Galaxy club is basically the same from 2005 with just a few expected changes, there is something very different about this team so far in 2006. And right now I believe this is a club that needs to take a good look in the mirror and find itself.
With a 2-5-1 record, people begin to wonder. People outside the organization are also wondering just what is going on with the defending champions. Teams around MLS might be starting to smell blood and are looking for the opportunity to put the Galaxy down for the count early in the campaign. Saturday night at The Home Depot Center, Real Salt Lake took advantage of its opportunity and punished the Galaxy on the scoreboard, 3-0.
How can say that you played well when you lose to a team that had gone winless in its last 18 games and already dropped a 3-2 decision to you this season at their place? It's true; the Galaxy did outplay RSL through the first half even though they surrendered a goal to the visitors in the 17th minute.
"I thought we did fairly well in the first half. I actually liked the addition of Kyle Martino; I thought he brought a lot of energy to the team, said Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson. "For about 60 minutes I thought [John] Wolyniec did well for us, but then I thought he kind of lost the energy that we needed at that position. The bottom line is we've got no forwards to go to. They are all either injured or with the national team. It was difficult to make changes in the second half. Obviously, I am extremely disappointed with this loss. I can't put it any other way."
Unfortunately, the entire club had about 60 minutes in them on this night. The Galaxy came flying out of the gate. They put constant pressure on the RSL goal. The Galaxy's finishing or lack there of left a lot to be desired, but they were getting their shots on frame. Too bad for the most part the shots were right at Scott Garlick.
As I asked earlier, anyone have the answers?
"We haven't won in a while now and we need to come out and show the fans that we can get a result at home. We need to get a result now. Going down 3-0 like we did, that is an embarrassment," said Galaxy defender Tyrone Marshall. "I haven't lost here with the Galaxy like this at home. That has always been one of the characteristics of this team and I don't know where we go from here. We just have to dig deeper and show the true character of this team."
"We need to make sure that we do everything that we possibly can as professionals to try and right the ship. It is frustrating and embarrassing, that is for sure," said Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. "We need to come out with better efforts week in and week out."
Kevin knows better than you or I about that, but I don't think it's just effort. I feel the Galaxy gave a very strong effort Saturday night. Maybe the effort was too much. The pace is frantic out there for this team right now. If the Galaxy were a sports car they'd be red-lining from the kickoff. It's really best to use all six gears or you're most likely going to burn the clutch. In this case, I think the Galaxy need to take their foot off the pedal and see the game. Right now every inch of the field is contested in a Galaxy match. That is what ended up happening Saturday night and when a match is reduced to that level, a lesser talented side has a fighting chance and Salt Lake took advantage of that.
Yes, the Galaxy needs a better effort, but it's not the physical effort which needs to improve.
THE TRADE... Kyle Martino and John Wolyniec to the Galaxy. Ned Grabavoy and Joe Ngwenya to Columbus. It's a good trade for both clubs. Columbus is rebuilding and both former Galaxy players have witnessed what it takes to win a championship in this league. They will help in getting the Crew going. For the Galaxy, picking up Martino and Wolyniec can fit in nicely to the Galaxy's needs. That need is for Martino to live up to his potential as a rookie. He can become a very good attacking midfielder in this league and that would help the Galaxy in a big way. Wolyniec could be the post forward the Galaxy has been looking for. Time will tell. Time, right now, is not totally on the Galaxy's side. 2-5-1. The alarm is going off loud and clear.
HERE COME THE RAPIDS... Here comes another team with a chip on its shoulder dating back to last season. Who can forget the Rapids' playoff comments of "It's Landon Donovan and the rest?" And who could forget the goals scored by Donovan? Not Colorado.
THE HALL CALLS ON BIG RED AND OVERBECK... Alexi Lalas and Carla Overbeck are the 2006 inductees to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. No argument here.
I still believe the Hall needs to connect the past with the present though. The NASL stars who kept the game alive by taking their talents indoors must be recognized. A group recognition does not do them justice. As I said last year when Fernando Clavijo was selected, I applaud it, but that selection opens the door for those players who accomplished as much and more during the same era for which he played. I don't mean to make Fernando an example, but I saw him play at his best and yes, he was a great defender, but was he more important to the San Diego Sockers than Kevin Crowe? More important than Brian Quinn? More important than Branko Segota, Julie Veee, Steve Zungul? No, he was not. But Clavijo played for the national team. Yes, so did Brian Quinn and Hugo Perez. And by the way, how can Ron Newman be in the Hall without the great players who won those ten titles for him? And this is just from what I watched growing up. We can go to every city and pick out at least a handful of deserving players. Preki is the next player from that era who will get the call. Make the connection. Give those players their due and fill the gap between Pele and 1996.
TIME TO PREPARE FOR THE CUP... The U.S. national team training camp opened Thursday in Cary, N.C. MLS accounts for half the U.S. team and the Galaxy with two as Landon Donovan and Chris Albright join the Red, White and Blue. This is widely believed to be the best U.S. team to head to the World Cup. I have to agree with that assessment. The United States is ranked 4th in the FIFA world rankings - which might be putting the cart before the horse only in that the United States does not have the pedigree in the sport compared to past World Cup champions who find themselves looking up at the USA on the FIFA table. While the U.S. might have been able to surprise a country like Italy, the Italians are a proud bunch and knowing that the Americans are ranked ahead of them, I'm sure doesn't sit well with the three-time world champions. Not only were the Azzuri miffed when the U.S. passed them in the rankings - they were angry when the Yanks were ranked 7th. Now they are 4th. So there will be no excuses when the United States posts a win in game two on June 17.
SOCCER SHOW... A new soccer show takes to the radio airwaves Sunday night at 6 p.m. on the Galaxy's English flagship radio station, CASH 1700 AM. Ridge Mahoney from Soccer America will co-host this one hour program with yours truly. If all goes well, you'll have a place to talk soccer for 40 weeks a year. We'll cover the Galaxy, MLS and of course, Team USA. So grab a piece of paper and write down this number: 866-405-1717. I look forward to hearing from you.