I was asked Saturday night following the Galaxy's opening night 1-0 loss to New England what 'my take' would be in this column. My first impression was the guys just had too much to deal with heading in to this match and after 20 minutes, without converting on their early chances, they found themselves struggling to find the consistency they feel they need this year over last year. Having slept on the result, my thoughts on the night are, boy what a beautiful championship ring!
Let's give credit where credit is due. New England won this match. They did a great job after weathering the first 20 minutes, where in my view the Galaxy had the better of the play. The Revs did a nice job of systematically shutting down passing lanes to Landon Donovan and forced Herculez Gomez wide on many occasions. Gomez playing wide isn't all bad. He had some nice crosses in the first half that led to scoring chances. The problem was the Galaxy lost their link on the right side with Cobi Jones and Chris Albright through the midfield and in the middle third the match was won by New England. I wasn't quite sure of Marcelo Saragosa's assignment, especially in the first half. Ten minutes in to the second half his assignment changed to coming off the field and being replaced by Paulo Nagamura.
What the Revolution were supposed to do Nov. 13 materialized six months later. This time Clint Dempsey did show up. Pat Noonan was solid and Shalrie Joseph was a force who bottled up Galaxy efforts the width of the center circle. The Revs were quicker to the ball and more aggressive throughout the match. Joe Franchino seemed to take it up a few levels as the game progressed. He's old school American soccer. Not the most talented player on the field but is tough as nails and a pain in the neck to play against because he will physically punish you through ninety minutes.
I think when you look at everything the Galaxy had to deal with heading in to this match and compare it to what New England had on its plate coming in, it's easy to say the Revs were able to focus more on the task at hand. Yes, sound the excuse alarm.
Fine, say what you want. This loss however, can be a positive for the club. I'm not a shrink; I just play one in this column. Having gone through a difficult time, to say the least, in the last month, it is reasonable to suggest the Galaxy would have a letdown. Having all of the highs and lows culminate on one night with the opening of the season, it's reasonable to suggest this or any club would falter. The positive out of all this is they can now focus on the matches ahead. The ring ceremony is over. The championship flag flies proudly at the Home Depot Center. The much deserved tribute for Doug Hamilton has occurred. He will always be with this organization. Now the club can move forward and start to make strides in their ultimate goal - defending their titles.
DIRECT KICKS... Nathan Sturgis looked pretty good for his first match as a pro. Yes, at times he struggled, but I never felt he was overwhelmed or didn't belong on the pitch. He'll grow into a very nice player in this league and help fill the void when the Galaxy loses players for the World Cup. Tyrone Marshall had a great game. He looked in midseason form. The only thing he didn't do was attempt one of his patented runs down the middle of the park, although around the 75th minute he did look ready to do just that. Ugo Ihemelu continues to grow. Ugo did a nice job on Taylor Twellman, maybe at times affording Twellman a little too much respect. Outside of that, nice job.
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.