Wednesday, August 29, 2007

SuperLiga final - Can LA pull off the great upset?

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Pachuca CF
10pm ET/ 7pm PT - Home Depot Center
TV: Telefutura (Spanish)
Internet: MLStv

Could the first SuperLiga, a competition that has seen some of the best club soccer played in America in the last ten years, really conclude in such a lopsided contest? Pachuca comes into the match as recent winners of Mexico, CONCACAF and South America's Copa Sudamericana, while LA is having a hard time remembering the last time they won a game.

The good news for the Galaxy, one of the few wins they have earned this year came earlier in the competition against Pachuca and they did it without Beckham. The bad news is Pachuca has only improved since then while LA has played almost 10 games and added a number of players to the injury list.

Pachuca has lost recently as well when they dropped a match this past weekend, however it was due in large part to resting six starters for tonight's match. Fausto Pinto, Gerardo Rodrguez, Damian Alvarez, Christian Gimenez and Juan Carlos Cacho will all come into the game well rested and ready to claim a fourth title in a year. This should terrify any Galaxy or MLS fans.

For the Galaxy to pull off an upset, they will need to do something they have done many times in the past, play great tournament ball. For all LA's faults, they have always managed to punch above their weight in tournament settings. Be it their run from eighth place to MLS champs in the 2005 playoffs or their usually strong play in the US Open Cup, the team clicks in single-elimination settings, but to make history, they are going to need a performance from their offense unlike any they have given this season.

Pachuca will likely surrender a goal or two but their success rests a great deal in their patience. They never seem to lose composure, even when down a couple goals. This allows them to poke around the final third and wait for mistakes. With the Galaxy very prone to making mistakes, this will probably be their undoing.

They need to keep tabs on Juan Carlos Cacho because he can turn a play like few others, but perhaps their best chance of changing the game is keeping Gimenez out of it as much as possible. He is to Pachuca what Beckham is to LA, ie the man who gets it all going. If they could somehow force him into an early card situation or make him track back, it will take some of the heavy pressure off the backline.

If the Galaxy defense can hold (or if Cannon can save them), then they just need to push their forwards up. Pachuca is strong on defense but they have a weakness when it comes to crosses. If Beckham is on the pitch, this should help the club, but they will still need to find someone to get under those crosses. Look for Pavon to be the big target while Xavier or Kelly Gray will probably push forward to add something to the mix.

So LA will need to play a near perfect game to walk out with the $1million prize and the SuperLiga trophy. As if that wasn't pressure enough, if they don't win, there is a good chance coach Frank Yallop will be sacked (and maybe GM Alexi Lalas as well) and their season will be considered a total failure.

We will learn tonight just what the Galaxy have in them.

Predictions: Me LA 2-1 Pachuca, Wife LA 1-4 Pachuca

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Anonymous Laurie said...

Quick correction to a good post. The actual start time is listed as 8:00 Pacific, or 11:00 Eastern.

5:45 PM  

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