Six weeks into the 2010 season, there has been no more impressive team in MLS than the Los Angeles Galaxy. Coach Bruce Arena's side is nine points clear at the top of the Western Conference, having dropped just two points in its opening seven matches (6-0-1).
Defensively, no team in MLS has conceded fewer than the two goals that keeper Donovan Ricketts has allowed, and such stinginess at the back has helped the Galaxy capitalize on another happy knack: scoring early. In their six wins to date, the Galaxy have opened the scoring in the sixth, seventh, 26th, 11th, first and 21st minutes, respectively.
At Colorado on Wednesday, where Los Angeles had drawn once and lost five going back to 2006, that winning formula was again in effect following Alan Gordon's header (which also extended the Rapids' winless run in games when their opponent scores first to 60 games). At no point this season has Arena's side trailed -- no other MLS side can boast this -- and only once has it been equalized after having taken the lead.
Thus, while Edson Buddle's free-scoring start to the campaign has rightfully earned him plenty of praise, as well as consideration as a late candidate for the U.S. World Cup squad, the numbers show there is more to this Galaxy side than its leading marksman. Meaning that, if Buddle joins L.A. teammate Landon Donovan on the plane to South Africa, the Galaxy will be well-placed to cope without their talismanic duo.
Before all that comes another big test, at Seattle on Saturday.
Chivas on the rise
The Home Depot Center must be a pretty cheery place at the moment, given Chivas' recent resurgence. Having lost three of their first four games under new coach Martin Vasquez, the Goats have hit their stride in the last three, collecting seven points while scoring eight goals in the process.
Against New England on Wednesday, Chivas took advantage of some generous offerings from the host's defense to record its first-ever win at Gillette Stadium. While Jesus Padilla led the scorers with two strikes, I was also impressed with his partner up front, Justin Braun, who bagged his second goal of the season.
A member of the national team squad at its January training camp, Braun, at 6-foot-3, has size on his side. And the 23-year-old's intelligent hold-up play and decent movement off the ball prove he has a soccer IQ. His display against the Revolution was the latest example of the progress he has made since he first impressed then-Chivas coach Preki at an amateur tournament two years ago.
A pause for some good causes
Finally, a word for a pair of causes that deserve as much publicity as they can get.
MLS fans will recall Joe Vide, who played for New York, San Jose and D.C. United from 2006-08. Last month, the 25-year-old was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer also known as Hodgkin's disease.
Vide is currently undergoing treatment (at his own expense) and has set up a website to keep people apprised of his progress and through which donations can be made to help cover his medical expenses.
Meanwhile, "Boots For Aba'fana" is a nonprofit organization working to supply basic gear to young footballers in Khayelitsha, South Africa.
With the World Cup just over a month away, the eyes of the world are set to turn to the Rainbow Nation, and this organization aims to assist future generations of South African soccer players by donating lightly used soccer equipment to those in need. Read more about the cause here.