1) The Galaxy dodged a huge, huge bullet.
They were the overwhelming favorites and perhaps rightfully so. But all the bluster and confidence was shattered in their playoff opener when a team that back-doored its way into the postseason by winning just once in their final 10 games found the right tonic to scare the daylights out of the defending champs.
Martin Rennie’s attack-and-retreat game plan worked exactly the way Landon Donovan feared it would. And even though the Galaxy kept bringing the pressure after Darren Mattocks’ fourth-minute strike, they couldn’t break through until there were barely more than 20 minutes to go.
For a good while, everyone started to believe in the ‘Caps. The Galaxy had better get themselves ready to rebound quickly, because it’s not going to get any easier.
2) He’s too late to get your vote, but Jay DeMerit reminded us why he’s on the short list for Defender of the Year.
The Whitecaps captain knew most of the responsibility of organizing the backline against an offensive onslaught would fall to him, and he stepped up when he was called. As Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, David Beckham and all the rest bombed forward, DeMerit kept his composure and still took just the right amount of risks to make the last saving tackle.
The forays into the box were far and few between by LA, and that’s full credit to DeMerit’s leadership. When a team defends in two blocks of four like the ‘Caps did, it becomes even more important that someone with presence and in-game smarts runs the show.
3) Mike Magee is a star among a supporting cast.
GOAL: Magee equalizes with sweet volley
Donovan? Beckham? Keane? They’re nice players. Magee is an absolute legend when the playoffs roll around. To nobody’s surprise, the man came up with yet another spectacular goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs with his cracking side-volley in the 69th minute that even Brad Knighton called Goal-of-the-Week quality.
That’s now six goals for the Chicago native in his past 12 playoff games, including three in LA’s MLS Cup run last year. But he’s a killer against the Galaxy’s next opponent, too: Magee has four goals and two assists in 17 career games against San Jose. That’s just one more prominent weapon for whom San Jose need to prepare. Oh yeah, did we mention he can play in goal a bit, too?