With opening day for the league so close, with a game that matters, I'm excited to be on a network where we are so close to having the full league covered in ways that no one else does, nor can. But we do not have a Los Angeles Galaxy blog, yet. What we do have is a founder of the whole dang network who goes to Galaxy games. Those of you who discovered SaH when it joined SBN know Tyler from his work at Athletics Nation, or from Blog Huddle.
What many people don't know is that he is a Roma and Galaxy fan. We'll have to forgive him for that a bit, but here's episode one of three questions for 2011. This season is highly anticipated around the league, but we have much further to go as a sport, as fans, as supporters and that support may take another generation.
Dave Clark: You've expressed some concerns over losing Edson Buddle this past off-season, but the Galaxy brought on Juan Pablo Angel. Will a full season of JPA, David Beckham and Landon Donovan be enough offense?
Tyler Bleszinski: Angel is a nice consolation prize from losing Buddle, but the Galaxy are getting older instead of younger. With this being Beckham's last year under contract, it's clear that the team is going for it in 2011. My concern is whether or not the club will have enough pace. Donovan is really the only one of the three who is going to be able to push the play. But Bruce Arena knows how to coach defense so I anticipate the Galaxy having just enough offense left for once serious run. I'm just afraid that injuries will creep up on them since their offensive skill is old. Arena seems to be fishing around himself for a good offensive combination. In the preseason he's been playing Angel as a lone striker and experimenting with different guys up front. Again though, the key to me is keeping Donovan healthy the entire year. He's so key to pushing the tempo.
DC: Those three DPs are also getting up there in age. Even the youngster is late in his "peak" period. The LA squad has some serious age on it, even after the retirements of last season. Is this one of those must-win-a-title seasons?
Blez: I guess I jumped into this answer too quickly in the first one, but there is just no getting around the fact that the Galaxy are an old team especially up front. This is a go-for-it year for this team, no doubt. I just wish they didn't exchange Buddle for Angel. I think Edson was finally in a well-established place with the Galaxy and he was very capable of helping to push the pace and helping Donovan with that.
DC: Your past in sports points out the generational nature of being a sports fan, and now you are taking your daughter to MLS games. With such a young league, just now getting second generation fans, is the timing right for MLS to take another step forward in the American sporting psyche?
Blez: I have a blast taking my daughter to Galaxy matches and the thing is, it really is the only Los Angeles team I cheer for. All the other teams I follow are from somewhere else. So I'm guessing my daughter will grow up rooting for the Galaxy and not knowing much about any of the other teams in town. I'm not sure that it's old enough just yet. I mean the hockey team I follow has been around since 1982 and it took a long, long time for people to see the generational impact of that team being where it is. There's nothing scientific in what I'm saying, but I think it takes a team, or in this case a league, at least 30 years in existence before you see the benefits of generations passing it down. I think it's important to get kids playing the game and attending MLS.
Some of the most fun I've had is watching my girl play soccer on Saturday and then going to the match on Sunday night. And let me tell you, I've taken her to a few different sporting events now. Baseball, hockey. But the one that she's constantly asking about and will actually watch with me on TV is soccer. She loved sitting by the LA Riot Squad and doing some of the cheers (minus the occasional obscenity). We actually sat at mid-field for one match and it was boring. I think the key is showing the pure passion involved in the sport. There really is nothing else out there like it in America, except maybe college football/basketball. If we can expose more young ones to the raucous atmosphere and the cheers (that aren't prompted by a scoreboard), MLS would be in much better shape. They need to embrace that aspect of the sport and do whatever they can to get those ridiculously passionate people there, even if they have to give these people tickets. That's what makes the experience special and will grow it in this country.