The Los Angeles Galaxy took part in the inaugural Pan Pacific Championship this past week and it’s hard not to feel like we didn’t deserve to be there. Our record and performance was terrible last season and in an excuse to get David Beckham’s name on their marketing tools for this competition, they invited the Galaxy as the Superliga runner-up. First off, this competition is totally bobo, at least for this first year, since there are only four teams in it. The opening match was a semi-final in other words. The other MLS team was Houston Dynamo, who are competing in three other extra-curricular tournaments this year on the back of their championship season. Obviously, MLS needs to address this and make it so that the third or fourth place teams in the league get to compete in something, which would make the regular season more competetive as well.
In any case, the Galaxy were without many of their biggest names and Ruud Gullit got a chance to test out some of our rookies and answer the question of whether we will have any depth this year or not. I watched both games and drew a few conclusions.
1. Steve Cronin is not ready to be #1. He was shaky in goal for both games and upstaged both times by the second half performances of Josh Wicks. Politics may keep Cronin as the first choice keeper once the season starts but I think Wicks has gone a long way towards changing that decision. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both goals scored on the Galaxy went past Cronin in the first half (although to be fair, the Sydney FC strike was unstoppable).
2. David Beckham is brilliant. He is motivated, motivating, passionate and rarely, rarely makes a wrong move. His short touches always reach their men and his long balls are the only way we can score. Well worth the money and will be the backbone behind the entire season no doubt.
3. Alvaro is a punk. I’m not even sure if he’s an official signing yet or not but the Brazilian played mediocre football for the most part and made a meal out of every tackle. Maybe with some discipline, he could be a great player and I’m glad we didn’t buy a 35 year old like we normally do, but one faker (the Fish) is already too many on the team.
4. Sean Franklin, Brandon McDonald and Ely Allen have some promise. Much more so than Josh Tudela, who despite having one season under his belt still kicks the ball around like a 15 year old at an open tryout. His goal was a fluke and I hope he starts the season on the bench.
5. If Ruiz can’t score, we’re screwed. The last thing we need is another Pavon and these other strikers (Buddle and Gordon) are dependable for popping in a sitter maybe once every three or four games and no more.
All told, the second game was much better than the embarrassing first and I am left with some optimism for the upcoming season. Check out the highlights of the two games below if you like and get ready for the season opener in March!