We really should tip an Easter cap to Bruce Arena. The Galaxy manager has his team in a good place at the moment, against the odds, it must be said.
The Galaxy was down three DPs to start yesterday’s contest in Canada, one that finished in a useful 2-2 draw with improving Toronto FC.
Robbie Keane is injured. David Beckham has yet to be replaced. (His midfield-ing or his modeling, I suppose.) And Landon Donovan got on the field for the final 30 minutes, but this was hardly the slashing, dashing, swashbuckling Donovan with which we are all so familiar. He’ll surely get there, but Donovan was quite tame in Toronto.
Past Omar Gonzalez there just are not a bunch of Galaxy starters out there that MLS coaches would come to blows over. Don’t misunderstand; there are a lot of good MLS starters, guys like Todd Dunivant, Juninho and Mike Magee. (What about that Mike Magee, anyway? A.k.a. Major League Soccer’s leading scorer with five goals this young season.) But these are not a bunch of league A-listers for which other teams would happily swap valuable assets.
(MORE: Thoughts and highlights on the Galaxy win in Canada)
The Galaxy are picking up points and progressing through CONCACAF Champions League through good choices with the ball, tight organization, hard work all over the field and opportunism near goal. (Did you see young Jose Villarreal’s stoppage-time equalizer? Boom!)
That’s not just about Arena’s daily training sessions, it is also about stacking the locker room with the right characters, about building the kind of roster that can weather a few storms.
Speaking of CONCACAF Champions League, it would have been so ridiculously easy for Arena’s men to be distracted yesterday at BMO Field. They meet Monterrey at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday, the first of the clubs’ Champions League semifinal series. Monterrey hosts the return leg a week later in Mexico.
But that was no distracted team Saturday. (Well, perhaps on one ridiculous moment, where the Galaxy gave away a first-half goal.) Otherwise, Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho generally overwhelmed the home team’s central midfield. Further up the field, the Galaxy outshot their hosts, 14-7.
No MLS manager has experienced as much success as Arena, who has four MLS Cup crowns (two with D.C. United back in the day, two with the Galaxy). And so far in 2013, no MLS manager has done more to be proud of, all things considered.