The poster known as "projectx" on the Riot Squad boards - I dunno if he posts here or not - informs us that the Galaxy have clinched a playoff spot after all, and that Major League Soccer Soccer is wrong, or at least guilty of the sin of omission. The premise is simple: Eight teams besides Los Angeles can theoretically get to 51 points. Two of those teams, Kansas City and Seattle, would need to win out to get there. Those two teams play each other in October. Therefore, the Galaxy have clinched.
Usually wondering whether the first place team will lose five games in a row is not a productive line of thought, but the Galaxy have proven this year they are capable of anything. I've rarely seen a team that could either win MLS Cup, or crash out in the first round, and neither result would be a surprise.
But if the Galaxy have clinched a playoff spot, they can spend the next five games figuring out exactly how they want to approach games from here on in. Comeback wins are always great for the old self-confidence, but DC United is a bad team with bad players who play badly, and falling behind to a bad team at home is bad.(Sorry - synonyms fail me.) This isn't exactly the first time that Landon Donovan has put a team on his back and forced them to victory, but DC United is the Algeria of the Eastern Conference. It should never have come to that.
New blog San Diego's #10 by Qamle, one of your fellow longtime posters, puts a lot of the blame on Kirovski. I think it's more of a case of the Galaxy having to choose between starting Donovan up top, or on the wing. If he starts at forward, he and Buddle never see the ball. If he starts on the wing, the defense puts two guys on Buddle and counts on the relative incompetence of the Galaxy's third or fourth best forward.
In theory, from here on in, David Beckham starts on the wing, Donovan gets to play forward, and everyone lives happily ever after except for the millions who hate Donovan, Beckham and the Galaxy.
Except...here's a sequence you didn't see on television. Beckham's on the right, screaming for the ball. Omar Gonzalez looks at him, and completely blows him off, sending the ball up the middle.
I didn't see who Omar passed it to, because I was laughing so hard. It was probably Juninho. I prefer to think it was Kovalenko, though. "I see you're open, David, but Dema scored last week. He's got the hot hand right now. We're down a goal, we need that Dema magic."
What you did see on television, though, was Beckham retreating to the back line, as what Steve Davis would euphemistically call "deep lying midfield." You might remember Christopher Sullivan justifying this as, and I'm paraphrasing, "Beckham going to get the ball. Good players do that," right before Beckham made an unforced turnover that nearly led to DC's second goal.
And that's where Beckham stayed, passing to Buddle from the back line. At least he's trying these long passes without re-aggravating his Achilles - so far.
There have been teams who have tried to pass to the forward line from the defensive back four or five before, of course. But they didn't have MLS public relations working for it. If only Watford and Wimbledon had thought to call their back line "deep lying midfielders" back in the 80's. Vinne Jones, Valderrama, what's the difference?
This is why it's important that the Galaxy clinch a playoff spot. If the Galaxy are going to play kick'n'wish from here on in, featuring a guy other players are afraid to pass to...well, let's just say having an extra game to work out the kinks couldn't possibly hurt.