Did you hear? Chivas USA is playing the LA Galaxy this week. With Rivalry Week in full swing, it's time we got the lay of the land from the rival's perspective, and with that I'd like to introduce Josie Becker of SB Nation Galaxy blog LAG Confidential to discuss her team. Thanks to Josie for taking the time to answer my questions (you'll find my answers to her questions over at her site here):
The Goat Parade asks LAG Confidential:
1. How has the start to the season gone for the Galaxy? Do they look set to avoid an early slump like last year?
It's practically a dream start, with a lopsided win over Chicago, getting to rest in Week 2, and then moving on in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. The big difference between the beginning of this season and last is not some mythical Cup hangover, but rather who is with the club and who isn't. Specifically Edson Buddle and Omar Gonzalez. Buddle coming over last year was heralded as the beginning of the Galaxy being the best offensive team in the league, but that's really come this year as Buddle's departure has lifted the block that was sitting on talented youngsters Jose Villarreal and Jack McBean. Now they were both likely a year out from being every week players last year, and they still might be. Still, what we've seen of them has been great.
With Omar Gonzalez the Galaxy get a great defender and a set piece threat. He's already put two in the back of the net in all competitions with Juninho taking the corner kicks.
With David Beckham gone, the Galaxy have looked faster in the run of play. When Landon Donovan returns, hopefully with a clear head, this club looks primed to make another run.
2. Do you think with the midweek CCL match, the Galaxy will opt to rest any players against Chivas?
Bruce Arena has yet to show the same lineup twice this year, so I expect there will be some changes for the match against Chivas as well. Three days of rest should be enough that we won't see wholesale changes, but there should be some cosmetic ones. Colin Clark has been inactive over the last two weeks as he's Cup tied in CONCACAF Champions League. If Arena wants to go with either Jose Villarreal or Jack McBean, that would put Mike Magee to the right side and then Arena has to decide if he wants to rest Sean Franklin or Leonardo. With Leonardo's injury history, the safe move would be to rest him. Alternatively, Colin Clark could push Magee back up to forward and the Galaxy would trot out the same lineup that scored four goals against Chicago.
As great as the youth movement is, I suspect Arena returns to the opening day lineup and will bring Villarreal in around the sixty minute mark.
3. How has new goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini been so far? See any immediate holes in his game on this side of the Atlantic?
He's a tough one to get a bead on, as on the one hand he's only given up one goal in 270 minutes. On the other hand he's shown some rust being thrown back into an every match starting position once again. There were slightly comical moments such as when he appeared to forget MLS was a multi-ball league and walked past two ball boys before turning around and remembering he could just get a new ball. There have also been scary moments with Cudicini coming out for balls he had no chance of getting, creating opportunities that didn't need to be given.
The Galaxy defenders say he's a good communicator, and the scoresheets reflect that. Still, he's had some gaffes that would make a gaffer look at him and go, "Wow, now that's a gaffe".
4. (Bonus) Prediction for Sunday?
Sorry Chivas fans, I'm an ardent defender of your franchise's potential, but it's just not the week:
LA Galaxy 3 - Chivas USA 0
What do you think? Leave a comment below!