With Sporting Kansas City desperately needing three point this weekend when they travel to LA to take on Los Angeles Galaxy (and American soccer hero Landon Donovan - oh, how we love thee), we get in touch with SB Nation's king of soccer in Southern California. He helped us out before the season opener against Chivas USA, he writes for the SB Nation soccer main page, also for Cartilage Free Captain - SB Nation's Tottenham Hotspur blog - and he's coming to Kansas City next month for the Gold Cup!!! He is, of course, Ryan Rosenblatt.
TDW: Landon Donovan is playing like a man possessed right now. He has scored LA's last five goals in league play. What is he doing differently, if anything, than the beginning of the season when he seemed to be struggling, and how worrisome is LA's dependance on him to provide all the offense?
RR: He's pushing higher up the pitch now and that's really changed it all. With him higher up and David Beckham and Juninho playing good balls from deeper, it has really stretched out opposing teams and gotten Donovan in space where we all know he's dangerous. Really, everyone thinks that the Galaxy would be better off if Donovan just played as a striker next to Juan Pablo Angel, but the midfield is so weak that it's tough to justify doing it so for now Donovan is staying in the field, but pushing about as high as a midfielder can.
TDW: When Edson Buddle surprised the soccer world (okay, just the American soccer world) last winter and jumped to second division Germany rather than re-signing with the Galaxy, many wondered where the team would find enough scoring to replace his 17 goals in 2010. They then went out and picked up Juan Pablo Angel and Chad Barrett. They're obviously not pulling their own weight right now, so where is the scoring going to start coming from?
RR: Outstanding question and if I had an answer I would be on Bruce Arena's staff right now.The truth is that the Galaxy will hope Angel picks it up, something that they have good reason to believe might happen soon because he has been more lively. It was his run and then shield that got Donovan his goal against Philadelphia on Wednesday. The answer could also be Miguel Lopez, a 22-year-old who is still getting his feet wet, but has shown flashes in his limited time.
TDW: David Beckham has gone all Ryan Giggs on us this year. He's been a right wide midfielder his entire career, but has slid into the middle of the park for LA in 2011 and seems to be having great success in doing so. What parts of his game make this change a good fit for him, and what has it done for the team to stabilize the midfield a bit?
RR: The key to getting Beckham in the center is getting him more touches, something that it has done. He's been able to get the ball often and with his passing that makes him a constant threat for the opposition. With Beckham in the center stretching defenses, it allows the Galaxy to play in more space and open up the field more than a team lacking pace really should be able to.
The Galaxy still have issues in the center of the midfield and good teams can exploit the Galaxy's weakness there, but the threat of Beckham's passing forces teams to stretch out so when they do get the ball it's tough to get back centrally and exploit that weakness.