Not since the days of Marco Etcheverry and Carlos Valderrama has such impressive hair graced the MLS stage and been so effective. FC Dallas's Juan Toja was my man of the match in their 2-1 victory over the not-so-surprisingly lackluster LA Galaxy. Toja played with confidence, a sure first touch, made good decisions, and broke the game open when he drove through the middle of the Galaxy defense and shot from the top of the box, drawing a penalty when the shot struck the hand of a Galaxy player. All this and he's only turning 22 next month. On the evidence of a single game, I'll go out on a limb and say he's going to be a quality signing for FCD.
Also up for match honors were Ramon Nunez, whose free kicks and runs with the ball were indications of a player ready to break out this year, and Shaka Hislop, who made several key saves to limit the Galaxy to just one goal. The Galaxy look to have a couple of quality players to compliment Donovan and Cannon in Ante Jazic and Kevin Harmse, but overall, the Galaxy just are not that impressive. That said, was anybody else wondering how many the Gals may have put in the net with Beckham taking free kicks and corners rather than Donovan? Food for thought, though this team may be struggling mightily and be sitting outside the playoff places before Beckham arrives.
Some final thoughts for the folks at ESPN. Player intros a la Monday Night Football along with the formations - excellent. Using skycam and multiple angle shots during the run of play - not so good. Use the odd-angle cameras for replays and freekicks - that's when they're useful. Otherwise, the jumping around and perspective shifting is liable to produce motion sickness in your viewers. Oh, and O'Brien gets a pass until the end of the year. He seems like he's learning, and I'll give him a year to get the teams, the names, and the game under his belt. A mixed bag for ESPN, but overall, I'll give them positive marks. Hell, at least they're trying to make a professional production of it!