Galaxy, Donovan Scoring, Still Not Winning
By Jeff Kassouf
In all likelihood, the Los Angeles Galaxy will be missing the playoffs for a third-straight season. The Galaxy was once a pillar of success in Major League Soccer as the only team to make the playoffs in each of the first ten seasons of the league’s existence. Now, it is inevitable that the Galaxy will be sitting at home again while MLS Cup is played in their home stadium for the third time, as they sit dead last in the Western Conference.
Amazingly, though, the boys from SoCal have two of the top three scorers in the league with only three weeks to play. Landon Donovan has netted 19 goals in 21 games, and has sat atop the Budweiser Golden Boot Chart for almost the entire season. As well as Donovan has done, his goal tally could be even higher without US National Team call-ups, which will keep him out of the Galaxy’s lineup against Colorado on Sunday as well.
Galaxy teammate Edson Buddle began the season hot, but has since cooled off. His 13 goals make him the third-highest scorer in the league, sitting behind Donovan and FC Dallas’ Kenny Cooper who has 16 goals. While Buddle has Brian Ching (12 goals), Luciano Emilio (11 goals) and Juan Pablo Angel (11 goals) nipping at his heals, Donovan has a comfortable lead on Kenny Cooper, and will most likely find himself winning the Golden Boot as his team sits on the sidelines of the Home Depot Center for MLS Cup yet again.
Even more shocking is that the Galaxy would be on the outside looking in even with not one, but two of the top three goal scorers in the league, should Buddle maintain his current position on the scoring chart. Interestingly enough, this would not be the first time this has happened to Los Angeles. However, the previous individual pieces of greatness have produced better outcomes for the team as well as the individuals.
In 1998, Cobi Jones and Welton were ranked second and third respectively on the scoring chart. Jones tallied 19 goals and 13 assists for 51 points, while Welton recorded 17 goals and 11 assists for 45 points, leading the Galaxy to a 24-8 record and an unprecedented 85 goals scored. That year Los Angeles made it to the Western Conference Finals, where it lost to eventual MLS Cup Champion Chicago Fire. Stern John, that season’s leading goal scorer with 26 goals, led his Columbus Crew to the Eastern Conference Final.
Typically, having the league’s most productive goal scorer has provided at least some success. Three times the league’s leading goal scorer (or one of them, in the event of a tie) has lead his team to a championship (see chart). Only once, in 2006, did the team of the league’s leading goal scorer miss the playoffs, when Jeff Cunningham’s 16 goals were not enough to propel a still-growing Real Salt Lake franchise into the quest for MLS Cup.
Now, it is more than likely that Donovan and the Galaxy will be joining Cunningham and Real Salt Lake in this category that nobody wants to be a part of. Even with the offensive prowess of Donovan, Buddle, Eddie Lewis, and of course David Beckham, it is clear that something else needs to be done to pull this franchise out of its most miserable times.
Jeff Kassouf is a staff writer for The New Paltz Times and a freelance writer who covers soccer, and can be reached at: email@example.com