Congrats to the Galaxy’s D & Home of the Hobbit!

In a fitting combination that put the Galaxy through to the championship, Omar Gonzalez knocked a cross into traffic that fell to Gregg Berhalter for a righty touch and score. The tally was the difference in the 2-0 Galaxy win over the Dynamo to knock the away team out of the playoffs.


Persistence personified.

TSG’s late night comments:

♦ Just horribly embarrassing moments for the MLS as the lights went out twice at Home Depot Center. You would have thought it was a Park & Rec league game and someone had to wake up the groundskeeper. We’ll allow the MLS this one reprieve and hope they have a prevention strategy going into 2010.

♦ This game belonged to the Galaxy defense who were airtight against a relatively weak Dynamo attack. Rook AJ Delagarza (a phenomenal performance by the youngster) and last year’s rook of the year Sean Franklin on the wings continually shut down the feeble runs of the Dynamo on the outside while sprinting up to join the attack. Gregg Berhalter recovered from a tough Chivas series and Omar Gonzalez dismissed his weak playoff record-to-date and returned to the form that made him this year’s rookie of the year.

The strength, quality and consistency of the defense kept the Galaxy in the game until their one-dimensional attack prospered.

♦ While the announcers commended Berhalter on the score, big guy Omar Gonzalez’s effort to get to the cross, keep it alive and redirect the nugget was “the” play of the game in TSG’s eyes. OG, unfortunate initials for a defender, would not be denied. When coaches talk about wanting it more, they just need to pop in the DVD of Gonzales’ disregard for his health as he went above, around and through players to get to David Beckham’s service.


No doubt, this was a tremendous effort by the Maryland grad.

♦ While the Dynamo attack was inadequate to say the least, I was surprised by the Galaxy’s lack of creativity in getting the ball to Landon Donovan. The offense for Arena’s squad seemed to continually defer to Beckham and forgot that LD was on the pitch. Odd. If the Galaxy fail to score the free kick and the Dynamo somehow squeak in a shot and eek out a victory in this one, you can be sure that TSG would have been all over the Galaxy’s lack of creativity.

♦ Conversely, it’s the Galaxy’s ability to build tempo that creates the flow of their offense and usually crescendos with a score that didn’t make it happen either. While ESPN announcer Alexei Lalas thought that the play stoppages benefited Los Angeles, I think any sane person would have clearly recognized this disrupted the Galaxy’s rhythm and ability to build the offense; just what benefits the defensive strategy of the Dynamo.

♦ Houston lacked everything on offense. Brian Ching couldn’t unshackle himself from LA’s backline and Dominc Oduro, who TSG thought in our preview might expose the elder Berhalter, was lost…and that’s a compliment. While the service to Oduro was itself lost, Oduro seemed to have slept through the lead-up to this one and have no idea how to attack the defense. A horrid performance.

That being said, through a share of crosses and scrums in the middle, Houston had a full 14 shots versus LA’s 7.

♦ We’ll say it right now, Stu Holden is a winger. While Holden presented himself more on offense tonight than in the Seattle series, the Dynamo’s young captain has trouble navigating the middle of the pitch. While Holden maintained possession, he lacked the ability to attack and threaten through the middle. After viewing Stu here and in the Seattle series, TSG thinks he’s better when there is the threat of space in front of him.

The Iceman navigated to pockets in the opening minutes to create some chances, but once LA adjusted, Holden’s offensive touch failed him and he acted merely as a hub, receiving and redirecting the ball from one side of the pitch to the other; not a bad skill, but not attacking football either. Anytime Stu operated the wing, not only was he more confident on the ball, but he seemed to have a plan of attack. Might we credit Bob Bradley again here?

♦ Ricardo Clark’s belligerence cost the Dynamo tonight. Clark who steadily fed and fed more guff to the refs was booked for an open field tackle in his half (free kick and score #1) and nonchalant trip in the box (penalty kick and score #2). Not a sterling performance for the USMNT hopeful.

♦ David Beckham was solid, but not spectacular today…but it was enough.

♦ With the loss, the Dynamo’s Stu Holden, Brian Ching, Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis are all available for Denmark recall tomorrow. TSG thinks we may see Holden round the globe, but that’s about it. Brad Davis deserves at least a trip to Camp Cupcake in January, don’t you think?

In other news, the Kiwis are through! Congratulations to the All Whites who qualified for their first World Cup finals in 28 years. Having watched the first match earlier this year against Bahrain, this one was a near mirror image with numerous mistakes and abundant USMNTitis. New Zealand was stouter on defense and that was the difference as a technical symphony this game was not.

By the way, nothing more comical than the raucous celebration by Bahrain when they earned a 2nd half penalty kick juxtaposed against the horrible excuse for a penalty take that grounded almost directly at the All Whites’ keeper thereafter.

In other news, no beer in New Zealand is allowed to exceed more than 4% alcohol, so hopefully the Zealanders started knocking them back after Rory Fallon’s goal winner header at 44 minutes in the first half.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark T on 2009/11/14 at 7:12 AM

    Good thing just yesterday I made a joke about Tehelne pole not being “Slovakia’s version of the Home Depot Center” and then Home Depot has two blackouts that night…sweet.


  2. Posted by kaya on 2009/11/14 at 6:33 PM

    Well, I actually tuned in and watched this game live (some of it, anyway.) I just don’t normally have time to watch a lot of tv, so MLS doesn’t normally get me there. But anyway, I thought LA was pretty mediocre in the 2nd half and that Houston looked more likely to go through. In fact, I thought they had! They probably should’ve, given that there wasn’t really a foul on the corner kick score that was called back. I think that mentally hurt Houston a lot. I only recently stopped calling them the Earthquakes…
    Anyway, I’ve never thought a great deal of Ching and he was pretty much out of the game until Becks and Donovan decided to go geriatric in the 2nd half. It looked like Landy cakes had a blue arrow down and then both him and Becks were up past their bedtimes as the game went on. I had to take care of stuff and missed OT. I did go back and watch it on espn360 and it appears Landon has changed his PK ritual for good.


  3. Posted by Kevin on 2009/11/15 at 12:09 PM

    I Disagree with Matt on just about all of this. Houston looked better for just about the whole match, and they did a good jobe attacking where our service lacked. The big complainer all night wasn’t Rico, it was Becks because on every Houston free kick you could see Becks standing in front of the ref complaing his *** off. I agree with Kaya on the note that the Houston corner should have been a goal, which Matt didn’t mention at all. As for the ref performence I like to complain about it, but, except for the disallowed goal (which should’ve been the difference), he didn’t get too much wrong. Stu’s play looked strong and yes he is somewhat of a hub in the middle, but when he makes those “harmless” passes, he is getting the ball off his feet to make a run to a flank or in a box. Holden helps a lot with the flow of the attack, and I’m gonna throw out that you can’t credit Bradley for Holden’s comfort on the wing as until this year that is what he has been subbed in for. DeRo has occupied the central role with Holden on the flank, so don’t say it was Bradley. Beckham was a joke in that game. I don’t think once I saw the Galaxy “build tempo that created the flow of their offense.” LA looked lost all game almost as if they wanted the offseason to come sooner. This game did not belong to LA’s Defense and rather ONE BLOWN CALL!!! Houston dominated, and LA is lucky to to have beckham on their team because the ONE RULE for refs with tumbles in the box is “if you don’t see what happened, you don’t call anything.” That should have been a goal or a penalty and it was neither. Why? Because freaking Becks is wearing white. that is nonsense. Gonzalez shouldn’t have ever gotten a chance to get his head on the ball, and I shouldn’t have had to stay up to 1:30 the game should have been over after the full 90 because Hainault had the difference. They stole the MLS Cup out from our pockets. “Becks’ first year in the playoffs, so let’s sheppard him to the Cup”. OUTRAGEOUS. MLS robbed Hainault of a goal and that disgusts me.

    Matthew – How would you have written this if Houston had gotten the goal and won the game? Would you continue with the horrible assumption that LA Dominated?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/15 at 12:32 PM

      Kevin, I already know you are a Dynamo fan….and you are clearly passionate.

      First, I hardly think that LA dominated the game. I think Houston controlled the tempo and LA was sadly a one-trick pony where the one-trick got a goal and had Houston pressing. I’ve said as much here and in other posts, twitter, etc. Ex. “If the Galaxy fail to score the free kick and the Dynamo somehow squeak in a shot and eek out a victory in this one, you can be sure that TSG would have been all over the Galaxy’s lack of creativity.”

      I can’t fault Arena…because his team eventually won. Did they dictate tempo, nope, but their game plan of serv-volley from Beckham ended up getting a goal.

      Los Angeles’s defense was the differencemaker — hard to dispute that. Brian Ching is going up against a rookie in Delagarza and he did little to take advantage of the situation. Oduro showed a complete lack of any plan of attack in attack.
      If I was in his cleats, I would have been challenging Berhalter over the top and with through ball runs all night–what was the Houston strategy here?

      Here’s a question. You’ve got an offense weapon in Holden and all you want him doing is being the catch and throw hub in the middle? You might as well pay him less than (wait…he’s already making peanuts). Who are the dynamic offense players for Houston?

      Here’s where Arena won the coaching battle here…he basically moved Beckham around anywhere he could find space with Kovalenko covering.

      You had Rico “covering” so to speak–and Stu stayed in the middle. Kinnear or maybe Holden on his own finally started drifting outside to open things up late in the game…should hav happened earlier.

      …You’re right on Gonzales…take a look at that play on replay….OG just wants that ball more….he completely sold out for it.

      Agree to disagree here Kevin. I have only a host of observations, but my review of the game is as impartial as I could be.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/15 at 12:37 PM

        Oh and I should have mentioned the diallowed goal/penalty — but I didn’t get enough replays of it on Friday late evening to add commentary.

        I do agree with you on the corner kick penalty as does my brother who said it best on Twitter.:

        “Ching got tangled, extended his forearm to break his fall. Unfortunately, it went into back of Galaxy player. Not a foul though.”

        Hard crowd today? :>


      • Posted by Kevin on 2009/11/19 at 9:15 PM

        It took me a while to respond, but yes I’m obviously a Houston fan, and I wasn’t surprised that anyone who reads this blog would know that, but to get a little into Holden’s play is what I would like to do. Holden while sure he is somewhat of a hub, most of our attack comes from our flanks, and with Holden in the middle part of what impressess me about him is when he does good he works way too hard because Houston’s attack isn’t up the middle. Our strategy as any MLS coach could tell you is to control the flanks. Holden’s runs into the box on that game were either too late or just not their, but I don’t think thats the difference. In my opinion, the difference in the this game wasn’t so much LA’s defense which yes did do a good job, but I think the difference came from Houston’s poor delivery (the downside of having Holden inside). I refuse to say the B name now, but he constantly complained to the ref. As far as Oduro, he really never has a clue what he’s doing, and I’m not sure why he ever starts. I would’ve prefered Weaver (who never got into the game)


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