Labels: chicago fire , los angeles galaxy , major league soccer , mls , 0 comments
Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy have to be hurting from their embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Puerto Rico Islanders. The good news for the team is that they won't have to deal with that sham of a match known as the MLS All-Star Game (which I am putting my money on Manchester United to run away with) for the rest of the season.
It's back to league play as they take on Carlos De Los Cobos's Chicago Fire at the Home Depot Center, where they have been struggling to get results the past few games.
The Galaxy have not registered a win at the HDC since July 4, and will look to shake off what can be described as a nightmare of a contest that registered more like the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Borrinqueñapocalypse (a.k.a. Dan Gaudette, David Foley, Nicolas Addlery and Josh Hansen).
Los Angeles has a record of 12-2-4 (40 points), good for the best record in Major League Soccer and the MLS Western Conference. But the Galaxy have had a nagging habit for squandering home field advantage as of late, and face a Fire like looking for a spark.
Chicago are catching up from SuperLiga action and have four games in hand over the Galaxy, including this contest. They are 4-5-5 (17 points) and will need every remaining match to contend for a spot in the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Fire is led by Marco Pappa, who has six goals on the season. Longtime veteran Brian McBride, a player with a storied career, has four goals to his name, while Baggio Husidic has score three this season.
Look for the playmaking ability of Pappa and Patrick Nyarko to be a threat to the Galaxy's defense. Nyarko has six assists so far far this year while Pappa has added four.
What Chicago will need to do is to attack with precision. The Galaxy backline paid the price for sleeping in the back, just like they did against San Jose. Pappa, McBride and Nyarko will need to use their speed and passing to shoot through the gaps the defense will open, allowing Fire attack to take a crack at Donovan Ricketts.
On defense, C.J. Brown is the workhorse for the Fire, having played every league minute this season for Chicago. Brown, Wilman Code and Kryzystof Krol form a trio of defenders that will look to make Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan a non-factor. Chicago will need to put numbers in the box and force the Galaxy to be creative in their shot selection.
Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra has made 44 saves and has a 1.36 goals against average for the Fire.
As for Buddle, Donovan, Ricketts and defender Omar Gonzales, the MLS All-Star Game will be in their rear view mirror. Buddle has 12 goals on the season, while Donovan has 11 assists. They were a no-show against Puerto Rico; they can't be a no-show against Chicago, lest the Buddlevan Connection lose its mojo.
Ricketts has a 0.59 GAA to go with 48 saves mades this season. He will hope that his back line and midfield do a better job in neutralizing opposing team speeds such as Chicago's.
Watch for Gonzales to play a huge role in stopping the attackers. The team sure missed his presence on the pitch, but you can blame Don Garber for having the idea of an All-Star Game to prevent him from starting last Tuesday. Gonzales has been a life saver for this team, and he will be counted on come Sunday.
This Galaxy side never fails to impress and to unimpress its followers and pundits. Note that on Monday, this author will be celebrating his 26th birthday. A draw will be a good enough present to make up for a terrible way to end July. Then again, July was the most difficult month for the Galaxy to begin with, with all the action going on...
But this side will need to search for answers. They have to. Especially with the decider at Loubriel looming on Wednesday. A victory on Sunday will give them some confidence heading into their match with the Islanders, but I'm a realist when it comes to how teams are doing. This will be a draw.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.