Okay, Galaxy, I apologize. You're not the biggest frauds in the league. You just played a two-game series against the actual biggest frauds in the league.
Maybe the Galaxy, like the Lakers, are perfecting the sequence of playing well enough to clinch home court/field, coasting through the rest of the regular season, then turning it on for the playoffs.
Since everyone else is lavishing Beckham with praise, I'll point out what a fantastic job Omar Gonzalez did with his service. On the Buddle goal, Omar got simply a ridiculous amount of vertical leap. He might or might not have used a Sounder defender or two as a stepladder, but whatever he did, he took at least three Seattle markers away from the real danger.
Then on Gonzalez' actual goal, he got a simply amazing jump on - you know, I have no idea who was supposed to be marking him. I'll scan the Sounders waiver wire this morning, see if I can find out who it was. Whoever it was, the only way he was getting close to Omar on that goal is via Photoshop.
I didn't think Arena was going to put AJ DeLaGarza in the middle on a regular basis, and I wasn't sure DeLaGarza could stop Zakuani and Montero.
Besides, AJLDG in the middle and Sean Franklin on the right wing back is the sort of thing that would get you labeled a mad scientist in a freaking fantasy league, let alone the playoffs.
Now, can they beat Dallas? Of course...well, unless the league decides that Edson Buddle should sit a game for the Tyrone Marshall elbow. I wish I could look at that in an unbiased manner. Buddle didn't line up a shot on Tyrone, and for all I know Buddle genuinely didn't realize he was there. Still, you put your elbows up that high, at that angle, for a reason, and it isn't about jumping higher.
On the other hand - and I can sing a lot of praises about what Marshall has accomplished over the years, but we can also call in Kenny Cooper as a character witness. Tyrone Marshall certainly believes it's better to give than receive dirty blows.
Also, the league won't suspend Buddle, because they're trying to rig a Galaxy-Red Bulls final.
I'm also a little more concerned with Landon Donovan than I should be. If he had made that shot in the second half, I'd do a full 180 and say the Galaxy are now obvious Cup favorites. I know, his presence alone gives the kind of space to Beckham and Buddle that allows them to wreak havoc (Ty Keough reference). And Landon may get a couple of more assists via defender pushoff, because the league wants to rig a Galaxy-Red Bulls final.
Maybe Donovan, like the Galaxy, has been reserving his energies until they are absolutely needed. If so, Dallas is toast, and so is whoever wins the Western Conference 2.0 title. Or maybe he's been running on fumes, in which case Dallas can start planning their parade through downtown Frisco.
The main reason we need to be careful about re-coronating the Galaxy is, well, Seattle. Are the Galaxy really terrific again, or is it just that they were playing the Sounders?
Three playoff series were fantastic, entertaining, and enjoyable. One was garbage, and that's because the Sounders apparently thought there was going to be an online poll on who advances in the playoffs.
Here I thought Seattle was redefining the Designated Player with the Fernandez acquisition, and he gets completely overshadowed by David Beckham. The Earthquakes worked so hard last Thursday to strike a blow against overpaid Designated Players, and here come the Sounders to audition for the background of the next Beckham poster.
The post-game reaction from Sigi Schmid - the real one - should give every Sounders fan a bad case of "It's Worse Than We Thought." The Ridiculous Excuses Hall of Fame needs a new exhibit - hell, it might need a new wing:
Never mind that Beckham actually took the corner from the correct side - Long John Silver could have taken the corner and Buddle still would have scored. And where was the marking on the Gonzalez goal?
It's acceptable, if not all that reassuring, to unload on Zakuani and Nyassi for not having the necessary experience. (Although if Blaise Nkufo is inexperienced at age 35, well, I have no idea how to solve that particular issue.)
But saying your team's psyche is so fragile that a corner kick switcheroo will shatter their focus...well, that's not exactly something you put in the season ticket renewal brochure.
The Sounders also need to decide once and for all how to keep Montero from disappearing in the playoffs, because the guy was just helpless out there. After the game, he was referring to the Sounders as "us" in the context of "next year," as if realizing he didn't exactly increase his bid price over the past couple of weeks.
It's not hard to picture Montero putting together a solid season for all thirty games next year, winning the MVP, guiding the Sounders to the Shield...and flopping out of the playoffs again next year.
And Sigi Schmid has a history of getting good performances out of mercurial guys (Carlos Ruiz, 2002), but also a history of his teams completely losing focus (Ruiz and the rest of the Galaxy, 2003-2004; Freddie Ljungberg). Two Open Cups are sweet - that's as many as the Galaxy have, after all - but the Sounders may be farther away than they think.
On another topic, congratulations to Seth Stammler for his Humanitarian of the Year award. I hate it when MLS loses great people, but good luck in...
Wait. The University of Chicago? Geez, I hope Stammler wasn't handing out copies of "The Fountainhead" and lecturing Haitians on how earthquakes can be prevented by deregulating the free market.