Sunday, February 24, 2008

Osaka dominates Houston, wins Pan-Pacific title; Beckham shines in third place match

Houston 1-6 Gamba Osaka

Has Houston ever been tossed around the way they were last night against J-League Cup Champions Gamba Osaka? All over the pitch, the team looked the weaker side as Gamba's technical control combined with their lethal counter-attacks gave them the game. Brazilian striker Bare made the top defense in MLS look like amateur night with his unbelievable ability to sneak right past his mark and into one-on-one situations with Pat Onstad.

The good news for Houston, no team in MLS has a striker quite like Bare, plus this is pre-season so better to find out these issues now (Boswell still has a ways to go before he is fully integrated into their backline).

Really it was the defensive questions the linger the most for me as they were beat again and again on the break, which is a sign of poor marking and lack of communication. During 2007, Houston was one of the best at stopping breaks but they have some work ahead of them if they want to repeat such events.

Goals: HD: Ricardo Clark 11'
GO: Bare 14', 26', 60', Lucas 64', Bare 72', Masato Yamazaki 78'

Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 Sydney FC

David Beckham was again the force for LA as Donovan and Ruiz both sat out. Really Beckham didn't do much different from Wednesday night, it is just that a) his team was finally able to control and finish has great service and b) the opposition didn't have the attacking talent to overly exploit LA's defensive weakness. Both LA's goals were the result of Beckham placing the ball right to the feet of the goal scorer.

Goals: LA: Ely Allen 3', Josh Tudela 45'
SFC: Brendan Renaud 42'

The attendance for Saturday night's doubleheader was 23,087, which is almost 10,000 more then were there Wednesday. This is much better but still looked a bit empty. Now that the first Pan-Pacific Championship is over the question becomes what to make of it? None of the four teams were fielding their best roster, which lead to a feeling of meaninglessness, but there was something of interest that came from these games. The way that Gamba played both MLS sides shows something as neither LA nor Houston could really contend with them. Perhaps the best thing that could come out of these few days in Hawaii would be more (as in any) meaningful matches between the two leagues. With the schedules running at similar times (March-Oct), it would seem like an opening is available.

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8:54 PM  

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