Real Madrid 3 Liverpool 1

It was a good run for the Reds. My feeling was that Liverpool would only have a chance if they could smash and grab an early lead and hang on for dear life.

When Mo Salah went out in the middle of the first half, the air was out of the balloon. But the team hung tough and got to halftime 0-0. However, you just had the feeling that Real Madrid would eventually breakthrough.

Sadly, the break came off an error from Liverpool goalkeeper Karius. Yet, Liverpool had one last gasp left as they gamely got the equalizer. However, goal number two for Real Madrid was a top 10 all-time highlight goal from Bale. Goal number three was icing for Real Madrid and sadly came off another error from Karius.

As a Los Angeles Dodger fan, the 2017 World Series was lost for a variety of reasons but the most public face of the defeat was the pitching collapses of Darvish (game 3 and 7),  Kershaw (game 5), and Jansen (game 2, 5). Pitchers get the outs or give up the runs and are easily defined as heroes or scapegoats. However, in looking up and down the roster, you can also point to the poor hitting by the Dodgers.

It would be too easy to blame Karius for the loss. In the end, the Liverpool mid-field was overmatched. Also, you have to look at the bench of Liverpool. When Salah had to come out, there really was a very steep drop off in capability. No one on that Liverpool bench would probably make the B-team of Real Madrid.

Some people say Klopp can't win the "big game." I think that is a somewhat an unfair charge. Real Madrid was playing for its third Champions League Cup. They had the talent on paper and the experience. I don't think anyone had Liverpool making the finals when the Champions League campaign began. I remember listening on internet radio the road game Liverpool played in Moscow in the group stage. It was 1-1 and people had serious doubts about what Liverpool was capable of.

Good season for the Reds! Hopefully, they can add a few more pieces in the summer and make a serious run at the Premier League title in 2018-2019 and another strong showing in the European Cup!

Liverpool back in the Champions League

Today, Real Madrid v Liverpool, in the Champions League Final in Kiev!

Check out the wonderful promo video from Liverpool FC recapping the entire campaign through Europe.

Part of following sports is the scores and stats but its pleasure is the narrative. In this case, as a Los Angelino on the west coast of America, I'm rooting for the team from the northwest of England, a place I've never been and likely will never visit (it is a bucket list trip though!). Liverpool's story of past glories and mostly middling results in recent memory now trying to reach one of the high mountains of the soccer world is a compelling one. The team is composed of players who are almost exclusively outside the realm of the A-listers but a passionate and capable coach has helped them play as a team. Combined with the on field work with a fanatical home fan base and international following, this is the stuff of great screenwriting and novelistic storytelling. Win or lose it has been a great ride this season. Go REDS!

LA Galaxy 1 SJ Earthquakes 0

Attended in person last night the Cali Classico. In years past, the two clubs were higher up in the table and the match would have more energy on the field and in the stands.

A few quick observations:
Chances were few and far between as both clubs didn't seem to be fully in sync. MLS match report put it this way: "Those were the only shots on goal in an energetic but largely incoherent clash between the California Clasico rivals."

LA won the possession stat (52.6 vs. 47.4) and the corner stat (7 vs. 3) confirming my overall impression that LA was slightly more on the front foot. However, it seemed on many occasions LA was kicking the ball sideways before attempting to move forward that then resulted in a Galaxy midfielder being dispossessed of the ball or sending to nowhere in particular.

The defense looked good as they tended to be in the right places when SJ was moving in attack. Bingham got a huge save late in the game to preserve the win by getting a finger on the ball to push it into the crossbar. Alessandrini got to the loose ball and cleared it just before the Earthquakes could pounce on it.

Alessandrini is starting to look more fit and lively and scored the game winner at 82 minutes. Last season his ability to dribble at people to create chances for himself and others was the one bright spot in a dismal year. This year he has seemed out of sorts perhaps due to the injury he had early in the season. Hopefully, this indicates he is returning toward the form he had last year.

Boateng got the assist and continues to show he is the "super-sub" who brings speed and energy in the second half helping create chances.

All-in-all, not a dominating performance, not a good performance, but it was enough and they got the win and with the Galaxy struggles this season, the fans and club will take it.

Here is the highlight package from last night.

Montreal vs. LA Galaxy: line-up options and guesses

What is a team to do when everything seems to be going the wrong way.

In the first 7 games, LAG endured 3 shutouts, 2 where they scored one goal, 1 game where they scored 2 goals and the one crazy game against LAFC where they scored 4. In this stretch, the feeling was the defense makes mistakes but was tolerable but the offense wasn't in sync.

In the last 3 games, the offense is still out of sync but has gotten 2 goals per match. The problem, the defense has turned into Swiss cheese yielding 3 goals per match.

So what next for the guys drawing up the starting line up?

Do you go back to bunkering like they did in the 0-0 road trip to Vancouver with an eye to counter-attack to steal the win?

Or do you double down on the attacking line-up and hope the team defense improves?

Standard line-up (4-2-3-1)
Back 4: Skjelvik, Ciani, Steres, Romney
Defensive-mid: Jonathan dos Santos and Carrasco
Attacking-mid: Alessandrini, Lletget, Kamara
Forward: Ibrahimovic

Planned subs:
Boateng
Kitchen for defense if Galaxy gets the lead
Pontius for fresh attack if playing catch-up

Defensive minded (5-3-2)
Back 5: Skjelvik, Ciani, Hillard-Arce, Steres, Romney
Midfield 3: Alessandrini, Jonathan dos Santos, Lletget
Forward 2: Ibrahimovic, Kamara

Planned subs:
Boateng
Kitchen for defense if Galaxy gets the lead
Pontius for fresh attack if playing catch-up

Heading into the October international break

LA Galaxy have dropped two in a row and in both cases their defense was the culprit. As a result, they go into the MLS playoffs in fifth pla...