Sorry for the Galaxy-centered post - I try not to focus on My Team, but I've been challenged to address the state of the team from a number of quarters, and it's not like there isn't some comedy going on. Those who enjoy the robust saltiness of Galaxy fan tears have had their cups overfloweth so far this year. If for some reason you haven't savored this, by all means do so. It's Bruce Arena at his most aggressively passive-aggressive:
“Poor play, a lack of intelligence by our team,” Arena said on the Galaxy's postgame telecast following Saturday night's clash at Stanford University. “To have a team of players and coaches that are that poor and stupid in the last five minutes of a game, that's my responsibility. It can't be on anybody else but me.
“I'm absolutely embarrassed at that performance. Give our opponent credit, you can't take that away, but our performance is embarrassing. It's disgraceful.”
I hate to be that guy, but reading between the lines, I'm not really sure Bruce is being 100% sincere in giving himself all the blame. I suppose today at practice Omar Gonzalez or Carlo Cudicini can test him, though. "Why should I run laps? You said it was your fault. By the way, how's my new contract coming along?" Omar can say. Meanwhile, what was looking like an awkward return to the national team for Landon Donovan has now become a haven of peace and tranquility. Unless you think skeptical Klinsmann is more terrifying than furious Arena, which is, like, your opinion, man.
This is how bad it has been for the Galaxy - thanks to San Jose gooning it up yet again, the Galaxy can now boast three stoppage time losses so far this year (New York and the Monterrey home game were the others), another loss at Salt Lake with an 84th minute goal made official with yet another stoppage time goal, and wins turned into losses in the 87th minute (Dallas) and 89th minute (Chivas USA, for God's sake). And of course the New England game turned painful in minute 87, then completely hilarious after regulation.
What makes it worse is that twice in the past ten years, the Galaxy have finished in ninth place and ended up champions a month or so later. In fact, it's sort of easy to see how they can do it again this year. Remember how the Galaxy traded in Juan Pablo Angel for Robbie Keane back in 2011? Something like that might be in order...although I don't think even Chivas USA would agree to a Cudicini for Dan Kennedy swap straight up. (Maybe they could also throw in a draft pick. This is a joke at Vergara's expense, not Kennedy's.)
There's a lot to hate about the Galaxy, but that has to be in the top ten. One might say it's a tribute to Arena's resilience and tactical acumen that he can so frequently adjust to make a good team better. One might also say that, much like maligned pilot Roger Murdock, the Galaxy don't show up until the playoffs. Murdock took umbrage at the accusation, and the Galaxy might as well - they sure seemed ticked off Saturday. And no one really wants to be the guy shipped out to make room for whichever Designated Player is signed to make it all better.
The other factor here is the one addressed by Mateofelipe - of course the Galaxy can still win the title, because no one else is terribly dominant. This might just be Real Salt Lake's year, of course. But when July rolls around, and two of the hottest teams are Portland and Montreal? I'll believe it when I see it, just like I'll believe the Galaxy are truly dead when I see it.
What's the opposite of a Goonie, anyway? Seems like the Galaxy have earned some sort of pop culture based nickname at this point. Something evil, of course, that should win all the time, loses to the plucky spirit of the heroes...yet always ends up winning. Darth Vader? Camp Mohawk in "Meatballs"? ExxonMobil? That green car that won the Piston Cup in the first "Cars" movie?
Let us pause once again the celebrate the Earthquakes-Galaxy rivalry, which I guess now is officially being called the California Clasico. You know, the Dodgers and Giants never bothered to name their rivalry. They just play the games. You'd think after seventeen years of screwdriver fights you wouldn't need to give the thing a cute name, but oh well.
What makes this rivalry particularly special? Well, I'll tell you what it's NOT:
San Jose and LA are often seen as being divided by opposing political differences, with Los Angeles portrayed as representing Southern California conservatism, while San Jose is renowned as a bastion of Northern California technological liberalism.
I'm sure Luke James is a nice guy and all, but I could eat a pack of refrigerator magnets and shit a better analysis of the rivalry than this. Yes, San Jose is north of Los Angeles. Other than that, every single word of this is completely wrong-headed.
Thanks, Luke James. And thank you, whoever sullied the good name of Wikipedia by linking to that nonsense.
In any case, Wikipedia shockingly missed a few games. The Galaxy bounced the Clash out of the playoffs in 1996, thanks partially to Eric Wynalda getting himself yellow-carded out of the deciding game. The Galaxy eliminated the Clash from playoff contention a year later, thanks to a Jose Vasquez second half hat-trick. That's how long these teams have been blowing leads in important games.
Whoever wrote the Wikipedia article forgot the wonderful 2001 Open Cup match at USF, that went to the tenth round of penalties. The Quakes could have won earlier in penalty kicks, but Jon Conway left his line early. Conway probably still thinks he was robbed...eh, I'm over it.
Well, I was going to say that this is such an amazing rivalry that even a flat-out MLS Cup overtime win might not necessarily be the greatest or most painful moment in its history. But the Wikipedia article has left me a helpless ball of baffled fury. Apparently this is a rivalry with annual "winners," which is wrong for a couple of reasons. One, it denigrates the eternal, never-ending dynamic of the rivalry. Do the sun and moon have a daily winner? Does the pitiless process of natural selection, bringing one species to dominance while forcing another aside, and then back again, according to the whims of an indifferent god, have an annual "winner" and "loser"?
Besides, it's horrifying to think that this rivalry, of all MLS rivalries, gives a regular season trophy. San Jose did not "win" 1997, 2005, or 2012. The Galaxy in no sense of the term "won" 2003. Handy rule of thumb - when the season ends with the other guy lifting the trophy in your house? You don't have bragging rights.
Well, I meant to write about my team puking away a two-goal lead against its arch-rival, but now I'm in a bad mood. Maybe the Gold Cup will cheer me up.
(Edited for the usual reasons of proofreading incompetence)