With J Hutcherson — The revival effort in Los Angeles got a lot more legit last night when they knocked off the team with the best record in Major League Soccer. Houston falls, and LA does it without Landon Donovan or the boost they should get when David Beckham shows up.
Bruce Arena has taken a substantial amount of criticism and provided a substantial amount of fightback relative to his club's run of draws earlier in the season. Fortunately, the rest of the Western Conference has obliged his thinking.
Currently sixth, LA still trails Houston by ten points even on games played. One would expect that making up that gap will require more than draws. At the same time, LA has lost the same number of games as Houston. Turning draws into wins, and LA's record could even out over the next few weeks.
It's not unlikely, simply because of what they've shown without their best attacking options. Donovan Ricketts could end up being just as important as Kasey Keller and LA is stronger in the attack. Donovan is expected to move right back up the Budweiser Golden Boot list. Add Beckham service, and we should see Arena's rebuild on a revised schedule.
That's going to make it tough for teams that are competing on runs, but not really impressing anybody past that streak. Colorado has looked vulnerable before their very bad day in Seattle. They lack the level of keeping to really push against some of the Western teams capable of working a low scoring shutout. They also seem comfortable substituting in positions that could use standout skill. They should have been playing worse without Conor Casey, but it didn't really seem to change their game.
On the surface, that's a result. A little deeper, and you wonder if they should be picking it up for one of the League's better strikers.
Meanwhile, Chivas USA gets to show whether or not a break can improve a team. Remember, they were on a slide in their League form before they bowed out of the SuperLiga.
One of the points Arena made after the Galaxy's win last night was that he was happy to be in that middle tier of Western Conference teams positioned to make a move. I'm not sure that's so true for a club like Real Salt Lake in terms of an extended run, but at the same time they've shown they can knock off teams expecting them to fold.
It's getting entertaining out West. Well worth your time.
Moving on, one of the knock-ons from the USA run in South Africa is a pretty strong shot at what I'll politely call smug punditry. That's become far too typical with US National Team coverage, like it's somehow more credible to always find a way to explain away what the US does on the field.
I really don't have much to say about the bloggers who decided that Michael Bradley had to be talking about them when he called out the lack of knowledge from supposed experts after the win against Egypt. Sleep easy part-time pundits, I doubt seriously he had you in mind.
More to the point, it's some of the major outlets that might need a rethink of their biases when it comes to the National Team. I know, professional soccer journalists are bias free and in some cases opinion free. All I'm saying is that it has an odd habit of somehow still showing up in copy. Hey, and it only took beating the World's number one to get some of them begrudgingly on board.
It's really up to you whether this becomes the moment where the US soccer community finally gets together along with the new fans that more mainstream coverage brings on board. Inviting them to the party pre-Confederations Cup wasn't doing enough. Post the US performance, it would help if it wasn't the same old thing.
Comments, questions, solutions to problems that have yet to present themselves. Please, tell me all about it.