Preview: Galaxy, Whitecaps meet in top vs. bottom tilt

EMPIRE FIELD, Vancouver, B.C.
7:30 p.m. ET (TSN; FOX Soccer / Deportes)
July 30, 2011 (WEEK 20; MLS Game 193)

Vancouver Whitecaps FC meet the LA Galaxy for the first time ever when the clubs face off on Saturday afternoon at Empire Field. Whitecaps FC put an end to their four-game losing skid in their last league match, a 2-2 draw at San Jose 10 days ago. The Galaxy enter the game with the league's best record and a 13-game unbeaten streak, after a 1-0 home win vs. Columbus in their last league match.

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REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Colin Arblaster; JAR (opposite): Kevin Duliba; 4th: Tyler Ploeger
MLS Career: 115 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 46; pens: 44

INJURY REPORT: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC—OUT: FW Atiba Harris (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jay DeMerit (R adductor strain); MF John Thorrington (R calf strain); PROBABLE: MF Russell Teibert (R hip flexor) ... LA GALAXY—OUT: DF Sean Alvarado (R knee surgery); DF Leonardo (R knee surgery); GK Donovan Ricketts (L ulna fracture); QUESTIONABLE: FW Juan Pablo Angel (L calf/Achilles tendon contusion); FW Chad Barrett (R knee sprain); MF David Beckham (back spasms); MF Paolo Cardozo (R adductor strain); MF Landon Donovan (R calf strain), DF Omar Gonzalez (nose fracture)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: VAN: Omar Salgado (U.S. U-17 national team)
SUSPENDED: LA: David Beckham (caution accumulation; through July 31); Chris Birchall (through July 31)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: LA: Juninho
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: VAN: Jeb Brovsky, Camilo, Jay DeMerit, Jonathan Leathers, Alain Rochat

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME: First meeting.
RETURN MATCH: 9/17: LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 7:30 p.m. PT
Coaches record: Tom Soehn vs. LA: P6 W2 L1 T3... Bruce Arena v VAN: first game

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

Vancouver Whitecaps FC return to league action after a weekend away, their last match a 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes that ended a four-game losing streak. Whitecaps FC have 14 points from 21 matches, sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Earthquakes jumped into the lead after just three minutes. Simon Dawkins sent a nifty chip over the Vancouver defense, and Chris Wondolowski latched into the ball in midflight, settled it and then fired with his left foot inside the far post.
  • Whitecaps FC evened terms three minutes before the halftime break. Shea Salinas sent the ball up the left wing and Eric Hassli sprinted past the San Jose defense, hammering a shot from the heart of the area that San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch couldn't keep out.
  • Wondolowski put San Jose back on top in the 54th minute when he knocked home a free header from the top of the Whitecaps' six-yard box, meeting Jacob Peterson's free kick from wide on the right wing.
  • But Vancouver again pulled even seven minutes later. Salinas rounded Earthquakes defender Chris Leitch on the left and laid back a pass for Hassli toward the top of the area, and he slotted home past Busch.
  • Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn made five changes to the team that suffered a 2-1 loss at the Colorado Rapids. Jeb Brovsky, Greg Janicki, Shea Salinas, Eric Hassli and Mustapha Jarju came into the team, in place of Alain Rochat, Jordan Harvey, Nizar Khalfan, Michael Nanchoff and Omar Salgado.
  • VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Jeb Brovsky, Greg Janicki, Michael Boxall, Jonathan Leathers - Shea Salinas, Peter Vagenas, Gershon Koffie, Camilo - Eric Hassli (Nizar Khalfan 82), Mustapha Jarju (Davide Chiumiento 57).

TEAM NEWS

  • After making his club debut in the friendly against Manchester City, Mustapha Jarju made his first MLS start, playing 57 minutes against San Jose.
  • "He was fine but he still has to get better. I think we have a lot more to see," said Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn. "We'll take this next 10-day stretch to make sure we're pushing the envelope on him and get him better, because when he's fit he's a handful."
  • Eric Hassli scored two goals in a game for the third time this season, also hitting for two in the opening match of the year, vs. Toronto FC, and also June 11 vs. Seattle.
  • "I have to see that guy at practice every day, unfortunately. I thought Jon [Busch] had a hand on the first goal but he just buried it," said Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon. "I don't think any goalie is thinking that he is going to hit the outside right but that just shows the quality of the player he is."
  • With Jarju in the team and Eric Hassli also available, Camilo returned to a midfield role after playing two matches in a row as one of the two strikers.
  • "It's about chemistry. You start to see some of those guys connect and he's a big piece, so we want to get him fit. When we're fit and healthy we'll be excited to see what happens," Soehn said.
  • Both goals were set up by passes from Shea Salinas, his first two MLS assists with the club.
  • "I actually thought he started slow as well. We talked at halftime and we motivated him and to his credit he stepped it up and deliveredÖ he was a handful. He can do that every game and that's what we need out of him," Soehn said. "He had his mind set that no one was going to get in his way and he created our opportunities. For him that last stretch was fantastic but we have to turn it into 90 minutes."

LA GALAXY

The LA Galaxy return to league play after a weekend away, stretching their undefeated streak to 13 games in their last league game, a 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew on July 20 at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy have 42 points from 22 games on the season, leading the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came in the 70th minute. David Beckham swung a free kick toward goal, and the shot hit the wall and bounced out to Sean Franklin. Some 30 yards from goal, Franklin ripped a low shot that deflected off Eric Gehrig and escaped Crew 'keeper William Hesmer to the back of the net.
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made four changes to the team that claimed a 2-1 win against the Chicago Fire at The Home Depot Center. Sean Franklin and A.J. DeLaGarza came into the back four for Bryan Jordan and Omar Gonzalez, and Jovan Kirovski and Miguel Lopez came in for Chris Birchall and Paolo Cardozo.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant - Jovan Kirovski (Michael Stephens  83), Juninho, David Beckham, Landon Donovan - Miguel Lopez (Mike Magee  69), Juan Pablo Angel (Bryan Jordan 85).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Galaxy are 7-0-6 in their last 13 games, the longest unbeaten streak this season in MLS. The streak is the third longest unbeaten streak in Galaxy history. The only streaks longer are a pair of 15-game unbeaten streaks, one over 1997-98 seasons and one over 2009-10.
  • "I think we got behind them. I think in this game we were much more balanced in our attack, generating opportunities on the left side of the field as well as the right, and that helped create those corners," said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena.
  • The Galaxy have recorded three shutouts in the last four games, all since Donovan Ricketts went down with a fractured arm.
  • "It's good. A.J. [DeLaGarza] and Gregg [Berhalter] are huge as was Todd [Dunivant]. Josh [Saunders] was good tonight," said Gregg Berhalter. "It just wasn't the back four tonight. Our midfield was moving, our forwards were pressing. Everyone was doing their part to play defense tonight and it showed."
  • The Galaxy last lost in a league match on May 1, a 2-1 loss at FC Dallas.
  • "We're in a good position," Berhalter said. "We complained a little bit in the beginning about how we dropped some points, but when we look overall at things we're happy where we are. The friendlies (against Real Madrid and Manchester City) last week were a good chance to play in front of good crowds and against good competition, but now it's time to really refocus on A, the league, and B, the Champions League.
  • On Sunday, the Galaxy lost in a penalty shootout to Manchester City in the World Football Challenge after a 1-1 draw. Mike Magee scored the Galaxy's lone goal, answering a Mario Balotelli penalty kick.
  • Here's the Galaxy team: Josh Saunders (Brian Perk 46), Sean Franklin (Frankie Hejduk 61), Gregg Berhalter (A.J. DeLaGarza 46), Kyle Davies( Omar Gonzalez 46), Bryan Jordan (Todd Dunivant 46), Michael Stephens, Jovan Kirovski (Dan Keat 46), Hector Jimenez (Juninho 45), David Beckham (Chris Birchall 46), Miguel LÛpez (Jack McBean 66), Adam Cristman (Mike Magee 46)
  • "Our backline, obviously in the first half, we wanted to play some young players who haven't gotten on the field before, namely Kyle Davies and [Bryan Jordan] in a left back position, just to have a little bit of cover there. Getting Frankie [Hejduk] back was huge for us," said Arena. "In the second half, we played quite well. It was good to get Omar [Gonzalez] back on the field. I think Omar looked good. That was a real positive there."