It was another Englishman who lit up the pitch in Oakland early on, and that was Darren Huckerby. I meant to get out to Oakland to watch the game live, but got up a too late to catch BART and get out there. Yeah, I was out the night before and slept in longer than I thought I would – the game was at noon though, and early start even still.
But what caught my attention from the get go was the burst of speed that Huckerby showed during the game. I think he is the only player in all of the MLS who attacks the space and goes at players with some gusto and purpose. Perhaps there are a few other players who will take players on at pace, Landon Donovan being one, but nobody really attacks the space and shows a true change of pace. Jaime Moreno will go at player but he sort of glides wonderfully along – teases the defender into making a mistake. Huckerby is a welcomed addition to the MLS, how much is he getting paid?
The opening first half had a peppering pace, with San Jose all over the LA Galaxy, even while the girls screamed every time Beckham touched the ball and booed when Landon did (a sign that they miss and respect him though).
Huckerby helped setup both goals with this burst of speed. The first by getting down the line and playing the ball across to Sealy (who is a physical beast – good strength in his upper body) who cut the ball past his marker and Arturo Alvarez latched on to the ball as he was running through. Alvarez slipped the ball past the keeper by bending the ball low and to the far post with his left foot – a wonderful and smart finish with the tres dedos.
Alvarez had just rejoined the team from Dallas, and scores here on his returning debut. How many times does this happen? So often very often I’d say. The desire to prove your worth in your debut trumps all – it’s like a drinking a Red Bull of emotion.
For the second goal Huckerby charged down the line as Klein slipped to the turf, unluckily really, but if Huckerby didn’t explode down the line there’s no slip. Klein was actually replaced late in the game and Franklin was assigned to slow down and monitor Huckerby – even Beckham started to drift over and help shut down Huckerby. But in the goal scoring play, instead of crossing the ball Huckerby bent the ball into the upper area of the goal at bad angle. The keeper was waiting, waiting, waiting for the cross, and ended getting sort of caught leaning towards the far post. It was a cleaver and wise goal from a player who San Jose is very lucky to have.
But LA came back to grab a goal just before the half. The other Englishman, Beckham, wasn’t going to be shown up that much by Huckerby, and he bent in a lovely cross to which Landon headed home with athleticism – a good jump and whip of the ball past his friend Joe Cannon, as he was left unmarked. Landon get really do it all, dribble, pass, score, fight for the ball, head the ball, and speak Spanish nearly fluently it seems as he did for a bit during a halftime interview.
San Jose has a ton of spirit in their side. They’ve brought in a lot of new players and they have started to mesh together. Hats of to this team as they’ve had to endure a number of changes and allow new players to come into the fold. Getting rid of name: Kei Kamara I think was a good move. I’m surprised that Kinnear took this player. While he’s full of potential, he just doesn’t seem to have the composure and pure skill to be a goal scorer. I could be very wrong though.
In the second half the game didn’t have the same pop as the first. LA was able to battle back and tie the game. Edson Buddle, who deserves a shot at the national team, beat two players at the top of the box and nailed the ball into the upper left of the goal. Justifiably though, San Jose was able to win the game with a late goal form someone who you wouldn’t think should or will score - Ryan Cochrane. As the ball bobbled around in box, Becks trying to do everything, he didn’t clear the ball well and then had to suffer the ignomity of trying to clear the ball off the line with head but was unable to catch up with Cochrane’s finish.
It was all about Huckerby though today, his ability to go at players and play with energy might just get San Jose into the playoffs.