Round 15 vs LA Galaxy
Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle are back from South Africa. With both Galaxy teammates back from a successful World Cup filled with buzzing Vuvuzela and a wild Jabulani ball, an already relative-successful Galaxy team will likely skyrocket up the charts and go platinum. Beckham, is the only Galaxy star left to arrive, and is likely to return during the playoffs.
This is a story of two teams headed in opposite directions. LA Galaxy are close to securing the Supporters Shield for best record in the MLS. The Supporters Shield would establish them as the pole position club entering the playoffs. Earning home field advantage throughout. The Sounders however are falling. On the verge of seeing a repeat appearance in the playoffs slip out of reach. Seattle sits two games out of playoff position. The only way in is winning. Draws will only begin to hurt slightly less than losses. Facing LA is the start of an intense two months of over scheduled matches for the Sounders. With many weeks having two matches scheduled.
The Galaxy stayed a reasonably good team with Donovan and Buddle out for the World Cup. With them in the lineup, the Galaxy seem unstoppable. Or are they? Fresh from the World Cup, Donovan and Buddle will certainly play, but likely need a couple of games to readjust to the pacific time zone. Both World Cup players will likely be subbed out early. Meaning LA will also have to be creative in their lineup and use of substitutions. Those may only be small weaknesses, but the Sounders have proved to be good at exposing detailed weaknesses in other teams. It’s finishing the chances they create that is the Sounders Achilles’ heel.
The Sounders simple key to the match is attack and posses. Teams are tentative when attacking LA Galaxy’s high defensive line. Yet the Sounders exposed that weakness against LA in their first meeting. Unfortunately, LA scored a fluke goal just before the 1/2 hour mark of that meeting at Quest Field. That goal completely brought what had been a great Sounders build up to a halt. LA went on to crush the Sounders 4-nil. What that score never showed was that a Sounders goal before halftime and the outcome may have looked quite different. All of that said, no excuses can be made for the Sounders let down in that game. LA’s efforts to expose their weaknesses were successful. Nonetheless, it gives a seam of hope to Sounders faithful to know that the Independence Day match at Home Depot Center may not be the homecoming reception Donovan and Buddle are hoping for.
One last moment for Landon Donovan. He is not a traditional #10. Compared with say Zinedine Zidane, or Wayne Rooney. He is no doubt deserving of being the US #10 as it has even more to do with his heart, passion, leadership, and determination than beautiful Brazilian skill. I think Donovan represents the first uncovered truth of what the “US style” is. Watching him play this world cup was so wonderful. His goal smashed into the roof of the net against Slovenia, was the finest goal scored by an American in the World Cup in my soccer consciousness. Topping that, not in form, but in intensity was his Prayer in Pretoria goal. The winning extra-time goal against Algeria. Donovan comes home a hero. He put soccer in a spotlight it has never been in the United States. Tomorrow, Galaxy fans will stand and salute him. I will join LA fans to salute him as a Sounder and a proud American. Thank you Donovan. The US has arrived on the pitch of the beautiful game with you as our hero.
For my Independence Day I had a wonderful Sales Family Reunion. A full on family kickball game. Complete with thorn bushes, towering smashes with one hand catches, and slow dribblers that are, well, best described as inside the infield homers. The best and by far most imaginative family reunion game I’ve ever played was the Chicken Toss. Nope, not like an egg toss. In this more creative version, you slingshot a tiny hand sized rubber chicken. Each one identical, except for the identifying number written in black on its belly. The one who could sling the rubber chicken the furthest won. We scattered about 30. The rubber chicken carnage was beautiful. I think this is what they were actually made for. My cousin Mark orchestrated this, and as far as i know was the mastermind innovator. Another game was the time-tested, classic “500″. Played with a frisbee in this edition. Which proved as physical, foul prone, and injury ridden as some soccer matches. There is nothing like seeing the beautiful intensity of mom or dad lovingly push their children aside for a 100 point catch. Only to have children grab the next one right out of their parents hands. ”You can’t do that”. ”I just did, and that just happened”. ”That’s another 100, thank you”. Trust me when I say I only barely exaggerate. Because the rolling twisted heel was quite real. In good family tradition, the game continued while mom iced. Even at peaceful family reunions, competitive family games must continue. Almost like a Monty Python family reunion, “ah play-on children, ’tis only a twisted ankle, it’s not as if my leg’s chopped off’”.
Anyhoo, the Sounders and LA played, and . . . the family reunion was more competitive. My Uncle Bill was so awesome and gracious in listening to me talk about how exciting the Sounders have been. Unfortunately, it turned out to be as poor and unexciting as they have been. My Uncle Don and Aunt Carolyn were so wonderful to host the reunion, and let me have the game on. Thankfully Zakuani scored, and at least proved the Sounders have some heart and skill. The game was so bad, the only good thing I could say is that the Sounders played much, much better in their 4-nil loss to LA at home. I should have turned this 3-1 loss off. Walked away. I wasn’t “watching alone” so no supporter rules would be broken.
“Where’s my rubber chicken? May I borrow that slingshot?”