This Sunday the LA Galaxy will take on the Chicago Fire with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane but without Omar Gonzalez who will play with the United States against Turkey earlier in the day. To get a handle on how Mike Magee's current club is doing, we asked some questions of Sean Spence at Hot Time in Old Town. My answers to his questions will be posted later today:
1) Last year's three goal total was a career best for Quincy Amarikwa, now he's Chicago's leading goal scorer. So what's going right for him?
If you ask Quincy, the main difference is that he's actually getting regular playing time. He only got 299 minutes last year, and in that time cranked off 12 shots and scored those three goals. This year, he's started nine times and has looked full of threat in all of them.
That said, we're getting into uncharted territory for Amarikwa, minutes-wise. Can he bring his bustling, all-effort style week-in, week-out for an entire season? The week upcoming - which sees Chicago hosting LA, then travelling to Colorado, then back home against Seattle, all in six days - should tell us a lot about that question.
2) So the LA Galaxy gave Chicago Mike Magee last year, which caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. How's he been doing? Does he still do that one thing? Can you tell him we miss him?
Mike still does allllll the things. And yeah, we could tell him that, but he's sleeping so cutely right now, and we don't want to wake him.
Magee's 2014 has been up and down, and right now it's down. His 'family issues' in preseason got him a new deal, but it also meant he wasn't in the greatest form when the season began. He's missed a couple of penalty kicks, and because of that we drew two games we could've won. And now his calf is bothering him, and he hasn't practiced all week. He'll likely watch this one in street clothes, but he should be able to show up for those dinner reservations.
3) Does the name LA Galaxy still strike fear in the hearts of MLS fans around the country? Like Angelina wearing horns and walking around a green screen room?
Not fear, not any more. Sorry. Everyone respects the Galaxy - they're a good team, great history, all that - and you don't expect to win, exactly. But fear speaks to a deeper place than respect, and the idea that this LA team is going to come out and straight-up humiliate your guys seems far-fetched.
Fortunately, the Galaxy seem to accept this truth with some grace - they're more apt to show up without makeup, wearing sweats, than in full stage regalia, ready for the green screen.
4) I have a hard time getting a handle on Harry Shipp. He's that Landon Donovan type who is either a forward or a midfielder depending on his mood, but outside of the hat trick he's goal free. What's his deal?
Harry Shipp is a very South American style of player who just happened to grow up on the north side of Chicago. I'd describe him as an engache, a 'hook;' his immaculate first touch and clever use of space allows him to control tempo and create chances. He's not big or fast, but he's terribly smart, and his watchful stillness multiplies the usefulness of the runs happening all around him.
5) Here's someone else I've never understood, Sean Johnson. He's at almost a 2 goal against a match average, saves only about half the shots he faces. Yet, he's been a national team camp staple for years. Is he secretly a good goalkeeper, like Bruce Wayne and Batman?
Sean's a very good keeper who's played behind a bad defense for most of the last two years. Very few of the numerous goals the Fire have surrendered could be stopped; that said, there's a sneaking suspicion that we overrate Johnson slightly, mostly because he's been USA's No. 4. Is there something more he could be doing? I frankly don't know enough about keeper play to critique him.
6) Who haven't I asked about that I should know about?
Grant Ward is a Tottenham loanee who's just coming back from a broken foot. With the news that Patrick Nyarko had some bone spurs removed from one ankle, and Dilly Duka looking in a funk, suddenly there's playing time to be had on the wing for the Fire. He's 19, he's athletic, and he's got some swagger.
(This is a pretty wild guess. I'm betting for the Fire to go away from a two-striker set for the first time this season. Conservatively, insert Anangono for Watson, move Shipp back to the left flank, and start with two strikers.)
Prediction: 2-2 draw. Fire create chances, Galaxy create chances, everyone goes home frustrated.
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