To put it quite frankly, Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy didn’t deserve to make it this hard on themselves to finally produce and deliver when it matter most. But they struggled to find that finishing touch that has eluded them all season, and were lucky enough to spare themselves blushes from America’s Hat in the form of Martin Rennie’s Vancouver Whitecaps, prevailing late in a 2-1 victory at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
With the victory, two more rounds of the California Clasico with the San Jose Earthquakes take place in the 2012 MLS Western Conference Semifinals. The first leg at the HDC is scheduled for Nov. 4, while the second leg is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 7.
As with every result, there are grades. Combining the convenience of the Opta Chalkboard with my secret meritocracy blend, we get the View from Avalon’s player ratings for the Los Angeles Galaxy against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Josh Saunders 6
After giving up a stinker to rookie Darren Mattocks three minutes into the contest, Galaxy netminder makes three saves and does well to limit the damage John Thorrington could have brought to LA.
Omar Gonzalez 7
87 percent pass success rate, along with three tackles won, six clearances and four recoveries. Wasn’t responsible for any breakways that led to some looks for the Whitecaps. Omar Gonzalez, the most consistent defender on the Galaxy backline, does his part once again.
Tommy Meyer 5.5
Meyer was good with his passing (88 percent pass success rate) but didn’t do too much in defending, with just two defender blocks and five recoveries. Meyer must get more involved next Sunday when the Earthquakes come to town.
Todd Dunivant 5.5
The Iron Man, Todd Dunivant, was horrible with his crossing, racking up nine unsuccessful crosses to go with just one tackle won, one clearance and two recoveries. The only plus for Dunivant’s game was his passing, which had a solid 80 percent pass success rate. The absence of Sean Franklin and the lack of defensive davvy from Hector Jimenez forced a bit too much on Dunivant tonight, and it showed in his rating.
Mike Magee 8
Man of the match by NBC Sports’ Arlo White and Man of the match by the View from Avalon. Solid goal in the 69th minute for Magee, who barreled in in the top left corner from close distance. In addition, Magee had a stellar 89 percent pass success rate. If there is one man that knows how to stick it to the San Jose Earthquakes, it’s LA’s No. 18.
Hector Jimenez 4.5
Worst player on the pitch, though not as bad as Edson Buddle. Let’s face it: Hector Jimenez has no business playing in the back. Darren Mattocks proved that point clear just three minutes in. The clock might ticking on Jimenez’s time with LA, but then again what do I know. I’m just a person spinning these ratings; I don’t claim to be the boss. But you’d be hard-pressed to not find that the clock is ticking for Jimenez.
David Beckham 6
David Beckham gets bonus points for an assist on the Mageequalizer but aside from that, his crosses were disgusting at best: an insulting 17 unsuccessful crosses, a rec-leagueish 15 percent cross success rate and an unremarkable 70 percent pass success rate.
Ouch. You may want to brace your you-know-what for impact next week, Mr. Beckham.
Best midfielder out there aside from Magee. Four key passes, an off-the-charts 94 percent pass success rate, six headers, three successful crosses, seven tackles won and five recoveries. Not too dang shabby.
Robbie Keane 5.5
Robbie Keane struggled to find his finishing touch after generasting space. A 79 percent pass success rate, four lay offs, two unsuccessful crosses and two blocked shots highlight a tough night against a tough Vancouver Whitecaps team for Keane.
Landon Donovan 6.5
Landon Donovan gets a bonus for the game-clinching penalty kick in the 73rd minute of play. Otherwise, Donovan had a subdued night, but he did manage a 82 percent pass success rate and eight recoveries.
Edson Buddle 4
Edson Buddle has no business being in Los Angeles Galaxy uniform. Out of position one too many times and not getting to the ball on the headers and when he does get a head to it, it’s still in a position for Brad Knighton to make a save. Arena may want to consider jettisoning Buddle in the offseason if he struggles against San Jose in the conference semis.
Marcelo Sarvas 5.5
Limited action for Marcelo Sarvas, but he did make six recoveries to go with a 79 percent pass success rate. Still, the question remains: will Arena go with Juninho and Sarvas or stick with Juninho and Beckham? We’ll find out next week.
Michael Stephens NR
Came into the game late, no rating given.