Oh, how six months have passed for these two teams! It's been night and day between the two since we last spoke with Josie Becker at LAG Confidential. While the Galaxy have swum upwards since their CCL quarterfinal date, TFC has...well, stayed right where they were.
I had a chance to catch up with Josie, as she answers a few questions on what's going on in LA-LA land...
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WTR: It's been a while since we've seen you, Josie. What's been going on in LA-LA land since TFC and the Galaxy last met?
JB: Oh you know, since Toronto knocked the Galaxy out of CONCACAF Champions League (which was very mean, but we're over it now) the Galaxy have gone and gotten their act together and are a cat's breath away from second place in the Western Conference.
Much of that resurgence has come with the return of Omar Gonzalez, ahead of schedule mind you, and the old back line getting back together for a reunion tour. They're playing all the hits, clean sheets being my favorite, and have gained the trust of the offense who now feel free to go forward and do pretty pretty things with their feet. Christian Wilhelmsson joined the team, not a splash but a solid addition. It's been fun.
JB: Well Omar Gonzalez is a biggie. His recovery has been fun to watch unfold, one of the rare cases where a player comes back early, looks in shape, and has no relapses. He's imposing on the back line and has made the team solid back there again. There's also Christian Wilhelmsson, who has already scored his first goal with the Galaxy, and adds a new dimension on the wings taking some of the pressure off David Beckham's long balls.
WTR: The Galaxy are looking like they will be heading to the playoffs, but are staring down an epic struggle with Isidro Metapan to return to the CCL knockout stage. What's the more important tourney for the Galaxy, and why?
JB: MLS, and it's not even close. The Galaxy have their unique situation with Cal State Dominguez Hills, where weekday games have a cap of around 7,500 but even without that, CCL isn't a sellout event yet. It's not enough yet to simply say international competition. I'm not entirely sure it is anywhere. There are more countries in Europe say with top flight soccer, but there are still some Champions League matches that don't sell out. Over here, it's the chance to host a Mexican League team that makes the tournament worth it, but otherwise...
It's a shame to say a tournament is meaningless unless it makes money, but, a tournament is meaningless unless it makes money. This isn't the Olympics where things are done out of goodwill. Until CCL is a moneymaker, it will continue to be lower on the priority list for MLS teams, the same way US Open Cup is.
JB: The Galaxy can secure their playoff spot this weekend, so I expect Arena to go full steam ahead. Plus, he's gotta get everyone in their best match shape for what's to come in October. So I don't expect any punches to be pulled. Beckham's status remains an unknown as he rehabs from injury, but it will be the normal lineup with Robbie Keane, Wilhelmsson, Landon Donovan, Juninho, Sarvas, Omar Gonzalez, A.J DeLaGarza, Sean Franklin, Todd Dunivant, and Josh Saunders.
JB: Well Bruce Arena sent the youngsters out against Puerto Rico, same way he did when the Galaxy hosted Puerto Rico. I don't see it having any affect on Saturday's proceedings, at least no more than a reserve match would.
JB: The problem you run into with pancakes and waffles, is that they're so saccharine. Like doughnuts, they start out seeming like a great idea and then slowly devolve into the worst idea. Chicken and waffles, like the savory crepe, balances out all that sweetness with a delicious savory chicken treat. So tasty. Now I want crepes and fried chicken. And cheese beer. I don't know what cheese beer is, but I'm inventing it now.
JB: That Toronto FC continues to be the MLS doormat. No offense. :)