On Sunday the LA Galaxy added a fourth star to their crest, received their championship rings and then celebrated by destroying the Fire 4-0. I had hope for this game going into it. After I heard the Fire starting 11 my hope dissipated quickly. Nothing against Steven Kinney and Maicon Santos but neither of them have any business being in a starting 11. Kinney may one day yet battle his way back from that horrific Achilles injury but being asked to start in his first league appearance in two years against one of the most talented strikers in league history was a bit much. Santos on the other hand is an MLS journeyman for a reason. Hard working guy who is just good enough to warrant an automatic bench selection and the occasional spot start. Yet clearly not good enough to do battle against Omar Gonzalez and the rather stingy LA defense.
In some ways Klopas' hands were tied. Injuries to Pause and Friedrich limited his options. Starting a less than proven defender was always going to happen. I don't blame him for wanting to start Kinney. Inspirational story and all. At the same time Klopas shouldn't just get the benefit of the doubt here. He willingly chose to start a guy who hadn't played a competitive game in two years against Robbie Keane and Mike Magee. Does that sound like a good idea on paper to you? Other options were available. Hunter Jumper being the obvious choice.
The decision to start Santos over MacDonald is a bit of a puzzler. You already have changes in your back line and your starting midfield is playing its first game together. Why change your strike force pairing? Rolfe and MacDonald played well together last year. They at least have an idea of where the other is going to be.
The game itself was even for the first twenty minutes or so. The Fire had chances to get on the scoreboard before LA did. Great service from Lindpere was completely wasted by Maicon as he pushed his header wide. Horrible finishing from Maicon. In the 32nd minute Santos hustles and puts pressure on Cudicini who turns the ball over. Chris Rolfe gets the ball takes a few touches and pushes it wide of the post. Another golden opportunity that has to be finished. Cudicini was out of position when Rolfe initially got the ball. Would have liked to see him shoot that right away.
Dilly Duka and Patrick Nyarko were getting forward and both made terrific runs throughout the first half. Only problem with that is they were getting absolutely zero support from Lindpere, Rolfe, and Santos. It was incredibly strange to see. Wingers getting the ball into good positions with strikers not making bursting runs instead standing and waiting for the ball at their feet. This needs to change.
The second half was where everything went wrong. Mike Magee ran wild and LA got to celebrate three times in front of those of us who made the trip to watch the game. As a fan it was one of the more demoralizing games I've attended. Mike Magee and Robbie Keane were both tremendous all game for the Galaxy. Well deserved hat trick for Mike Magee.
Personally I don't think there is much to learn from the second half if you are a Fire fan. A lineup that never played a competitive game together was asked to stop the defending MLS Cup Champions on their home soil. That the team wilted badly is concerning but not completely unsurprising.
Hard to get a good grasp on the state of affairs after this debacle. This is just one game and while it certainly sucked we shouldn't judge the team by this performance. Home Opener is just a few days a way. I'm looking for a better performance against New England.
Stop by later this week as I'll have a road report up with the adventures of me and Rudy Gomez in Los Angeles. Also CONCACAF Champions league coverage. Recaps of all the games from Rudy, Stephen, myself and possibly a mystery guest writer!