Galaxy hopeful to get big stars back ahead of date with Fire

CARSON, Calif. — All season long, whether via injury, suspension, or international absences, the LA Galaxy have missed players.

While injuries to the defense may still be sorted out, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is hopeful of getting his top two stars back together again ahead of Saturday’s match against Chicago at the Home Depot Center (10:30 pm, ET, Fox Soccer).

“We’re probably better with them,” Arena said of Landon Donovan and David Beckham. “[But] what are [we] going to do? Complain about it? We knew well in advance that we’d have the month of June without Landon, and David would have some time to come back from his issues.”

Donovan returned on Monday against Seattle after missing four games because of Gold Cup duty, and although he showed some rust, he figures to get back to his regular form with more time back with the club. Beckham, meanwhile, missed two games with a slight stress fracture in his spine, and came on as a second-half substitute against the Sounders.

Even though they played together for the first time since May 28, Arena said he remains realistic about the stars’ situation.

“It’s not going to be something that happens overnight where we get them both back and we get them playing 90 minutes together,” Arena said.

Ironically, the team the Galaxy are playing Saturday is also the one the faced for the first time this season with both Beckham and Donovan absent. In that match in Chicago on April 17, LA came away with a 2-1 victory.

The Fire, though, are a different team now. Since that defeat, they have lost just once in 11 games. Carlos de los Cobos is gone and Frank Klopas has yet to lose a game after filling in as head coach. That being said, the Fire have not proven they know how to win either. Since April 17, Chicago is 1-1-9.

“They’re an improved team, [and] have some talented players,” Arena said. “It’s going to be a real battle for us on Saturday.”

One player who did damage against the Galaxy in their previous meeting is in top form. Dominic Oduro scored the Fire’s lone goal that day, and he scored on Saturday in a 1-1 draw against Chivas USA for his fifth tally of the season. With his pace, Oduro could put pressure on the LA back line.

It’s not just Oduro the Galaxy need to track, though, if they want to extend their unbeaten streak to 12 games.

“There’s a combination of players who can come at you real quick and have the ability to piece together some good attacking plays,” Arena said. “We have to be aware of that.”