Preview: Galaxy look for home cooking against Sporting

The Sporting Kansas City road show returns to The Home Depot Center where they will take on the Western Conference-leading LA Galaxy on Saturday evening. Sporting return to action after a week off, their last match a 1-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls. The Galaxy return home after a quick cross-country trip, playing to a 1-1 draw Wednesday at Philadelphia Union.

REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Ian Anderson; JAR (opposite): Kevin Duliba; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal MLS Career: 111 games; FC/gm: 25.2; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 45; pens: 43

INJURY REPORT: LA GALAXY – OUT: DF Sean Alvarado (R knee ACL tear), DF Leonardo (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Gregg Berhalter (L knee MCL sprain); FW Adam Cristman (L knee surgery); MF Miguel Lopez (L knee contusion) …
SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: FW Omar Bravo (sports hernia); FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); PROBABLE: MF Stephane Auvray (broken nose)

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Michael Harrington

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (48 meetings): Galaxy 21 wins (0 shootout), 72 goals … Sporting 17 wins (2 shootout), 57 goals … Ties 10
AT LA (19 meetings): Galaxy 13 wins (0 shootout), 40 goals … Sporting 5 wins (1 shootout), 24 goals … Ties 6
RETURN MATCH: 8/13: Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m. CT (FOX Soccer)

LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/24: KC 0, LA 0
8/28: LA 0, KC 2 (Arnaud 12; Conrad 70)
•    The Galaxy haven’t defeated Kansas City since 2008, a 3-1 win in Carson on May 24. KC has won three of the five meetings since, with two draws.
•    The teams had played to three consecutive draws before KC won the second meeting last year.
•    Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. KC: P18 W5 L8 D5 … Peter Vermes v LA: P2 W1 L0 D1

LA GALAXY
The LA Galaxy once again played to a draw with a top club in the Eastern Conference, this time reaching a 1-1 result with Philadelphia Union on Wednesday evening at PPL Park. The Galaxy have 17 points from 11 games on the season, leading the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The Galaxy took the lead in the 24th minute. After receiving a pass from Franklin, Landon Donovan back-heeled it to a streaking Juan Pablo Angel. Angel momentarily lost control, but Donovan followed the play and pounced on the loose ball, drilling it past Union ’keeper Faryd Mondragón.
•    But Union pulled even in the 84th minute. Danny Mwanga broke his scoring drought when he picked off a back pass from Galaxy defender Sean Franklin, dribbled around goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and deposited the ball into the back of the net for the leveller.
•    Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made three changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls at The Home Depot Center. Chris Birchall and Michael Stephens came into the midfield for Mike Magee and David Beckham, and Miguel Lopez started up top for Chad Barrett.
•    LA GALAXY (4-3-1-2): Donovan Ricketts - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Chris Birchall, Juninho, Michael Stephens (Mike Magee 87) - Landon Donovan - Juan Pablo Angel (Chad Barrett 90), Miguel Lopez (Jovan Kirovski 83).

TEAM NEWS
•    The Galaxy have now gone three games in a row without a victory, their longest stretch of the season, and longest in league play since Aug. 28-Sept. 4 of last year.
•    "We were well in control ..." Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "The result is very disappointing. We should have won this game by two or three goals. We missed a bunch of chances, the referee missed the penalty on the goalkeeper, we had plenty of chances to get to 2-0. We made a mistake at the end, and it cost us a goal, but, having said that, we were certainly in position to score two or three goals. But it is disappointing."
•    Landon Donovan has scored the last five goals for the Galaxy, over the last four games the club has played, and all have come since he missed three games with a knee injury.
•    Donovan is the first Galaxy player to score five consecutive goals for the club since Edson Buddle scored LA’s first seven goals of the 2010 campaign.
•    As well, Donovan now has 108 league goals for his career, now tied with Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis for fourth-most on the MLS all-time list. Next up: Ante Razov, last with Chivas USA, who had 114 goals in his MLS career.
•    “It's being more assertive and more aggressive but the ball sometimes needs to fall your way, and then when you get your chances you just have to take them,” Donovan said. “(Against Philadelphia) one popped loose and I took it, but I’m being more aggressive and putting myself in spots where I can be dangerous and our forwards are doing a really good job of occupying defenders and giving me spots to make plays.”
•    The Galaxy have allowed four goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, one off the most in MLS (D.C. United). Three of those have cost the Galaxy points – a 90th-minute equalizer by D.C. United on April 9, the 88th-minute game-winner by FC Dallas on May 1, and the late Union leveler.
•    "We were at fault for not scoring another goal," Donovan said. "Obviously, mistakes happen. It's part of the game. But we have had too many of those this year where we are giving away points cheaply."
•    With the Galaxy facing a third game in a week with another cross-country flight involved, David Beckham did not make the trip to Philadelphia. He is still second in MLS with five assists on the season.
•    “Playing two games like this is hard, and then, when you throw in six hours of travel, it makes it very difficult," Donovan said. "It is one aspect that some people don’t really understand. But our guys did a really good job finding the energy, and now we have even shorter rest for Saturday and another flight home, so we have to be ready.”

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City return to league play after a week off, their last match a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Sporting have 4 points from 6 matches on the season, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The Red Bulls had a glorious chance to take an early lead in the 13th minute when Dwayne De Rosario was adjudged to have been held back in the area by Sporting midfielder Stephane Auvray by referee Andrew Chapin. But SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen dove to his left to parry Rafael Márquez’s attempt.
•    But the Red Bulls made no mistake in the 22nd minute. Thierry Henry flicked a quickly taken free kick into the path of De Rosario on the right flank. The Canadian international struck a low cross into the 6-yard box, where Luke Rodgers turned it past Nielsen.
•    SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-4-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Julio Cesar, Korede Aiyegbusi - Stephane Auvray (Milos Stojcev 64) - Kei Kamara, Davy Arnaud, Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong (Ryan Smith 46) - Teal Bunbury
•    SKC boss Peter Vermes made four changes to the team that lost 3-2 to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Julio Cesar, Korede Aiyegbusi, Stephane Auvray and Graham Zusi came into the team for Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Birahim Diop and Milos Stojcev.

TEAM NEWS
•    After opening their 10-game road trip with a victory, Sporting are now winless in five games. The last team with an extended road swing to start the season – the Chicago Fire in 2006, while Toyota Park was being finished – started with two wins and four draws in nine games.
•    “It’s important that we win to get some confidence and to collect points so we don’t get too far behind the rest of the league,” Omar Bravo said. “We know that we have many games at home following these road games, but we can’t afford to leave points behind.”
•    With the suspension to Aurélien Collin overturned, he returned to a central defense spot alongside Julio César, with Matt Besler out of the lineup for the first time this season in league play.
•    “(It was) nothing earth-shattering, just a decision to go that way,” Vermes said. “He has played well. (Besler) coming out was not an indication of bad play. I like the way he’s progressing. I feel good that we now have a good contingency of central defenders so if someone does go down, we’ve got guys that can go in and play just as well.”
•    Vermes also made a tactical shift for the second half of the Red Bulls match, moving Davy Arnaud into a deeper-lying role in central midfield alongside Stephane Auvray, who was starting for a suspended Birahim Diop.
•    “We made an adjustment in the midfield in the second half by going to two and one instead of one and two,” Vermes said. “That really clogged up the middle on them, and created a different situation and the difference in the game.”
•    While there was some expectation Bravo could be ready for the Galaxy match – he called himself at 70 percent at the moment – Vermes indicated he is likely to take a cautious approach.
•    “There’s a chance for him to be available this weekend,” Vermes said. “I kind of see it as a long shot. I see it more as Seattle would be the real opportunity. I’ve seen crazier things happen though. He moves well.”
•    Bravo last played March 26 vs. Chicago, lasting just 32 minutes before he was sent off, after scoring twice in the season opener vs. Chivas USA.
•    “I haven’t played in practically a month,” Bravo said. “My heart says yes, and my body says more or less. It’s important to play to get that rhythm for the game. Working toward the Galaxy game is a good chance for me to see where I stand.”
•    After making his first appearance of the season against New England, Ryan Smith was able to play the entire second half against New York. “Smitty puts a different pressure on a team,” Vermes said. “Him coming in was a big spark for us.”
•    Sporting also signed defender Seth Sinovic, who was released earlier this season by New England. A Leawood, Kan., native, Sinovic made 18 starts and appeared in 20 games for the Revolution in 2010, his rookie season.
•    “He's played games in the league, and he has some good experience,” Vermes said. “We're glad to have him here, and he'll provide us with some needed depth.”