Preview: Galaxy, DC clash hoping for much-needed result

LA GALAXY vs D.C. UNITED
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
March 18, 2012 (WEEK 2, MLS Game #16)           
4 p.m. PT (Galavision; KDOC)

Two clubs looking to get the new season turned around in the right direction meet on Sunday afternoon when the LA Galaxy play host to D.C. United at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy suffered their first home defeat in more than a year in a 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend – then were dumped out of the CONCACAF Champions League in a loss to Toronto FC at midweek. United began their season with a 1-0 home loss to Sporting Kansas City.

REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Fabio Tovar; JAR (opposite): Ian Anderson; 4th: Juan Guzman MLS Career: 126 games; FC/gm: 24.9; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 47; pens: 47

INJURY REPORT:

LA GALAXY -- OUT: FW Adam Cristman (concussion); DF Omar Gonzalez (L knee surgery); MF Bryan Jordan (L hamstring strain); DF Leonardo (R knee surgery); MF Kyle Nakazawa (tonsillectomy); MF Jose Villarreal (bilateral lower leg surgery) ...

D.C. UNITED -- OUT: MF Kurt Morsink (L foot neurectomy);: DF Ethan White (R knee inflammation)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: Michael Stephens (USA U-23) ... DC: Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen (USA U-23) SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (38 meetings): Galaxy 17 wins (0 shootout), 58 goals ... United 13 wins (1 shootout), 48 goals ... Ties 8 AT LA (18 meetings): Galaxy 8 wins (0 shootout), 24 goals ... United 5 wins (1 shootout), 17 goals ... Ties 5

LAST YEAR (MLS):

4/9: DC 1, LA 1 (Davies 90 – Magee 12)

6/3: LA 0, DC 0

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The latest installment of the one of the most enduring rivalries in MLS history, the Galaxy have a seven-game unbeaten streak vs. United. Since a 4-1 D.C. win in 2008 at RFK Stadium, the Galaxy have won three times with four draws, including in both meetings a year ago.
  • United’s last win against the Galaxy at The Home Depot Center came all the way back in 2005, a 1-0 victory on July 23.
  • Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. DC: P12 W4 L3 D5 ... Ben Olsen vs. LA: P3 W0 L1 D2

LA GALAXY

  • The LA Galaxy lost at home for the first time in more than a year, crashing to a 3-1 defeat by Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center to open the 2012 season. LAST MATCH
  • The Galaxy opened the scoring through a triumphant return by Edson Buddle in the 71st minute. David Beckham swung a cross in from the right flank and Buddle coolly headed the ball into the corner of the net.
  • But the LA lead was short-lived as the Galaxy gifted the equalizer two minutes later. Sebastian Velasquez knocked a speculative cross in from the right flank. The ball took a bounce inside the box just as Sean Franklin tried to clear it, and it skipped off his shin and into the back of the net.
  • Javier Morales punched in the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute. The Argentinean was at the right place at the right time as a deflected ball fell to him inside the penalty area. Morales knocked the ball on frame, and Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders got a piece of it but was unable to keep it out.
  • Fabian Espindola put an exclamation mark on the victory when he buried a goal in the 85th minute on a breakaway after he was freed down the left flank.
  • Edson Buddle returned to the Galaxy lineup after a year’s absence to partner Robbie Keane in attack for Bruce Arena. Rookie Tommy Meyer formed the central defense pair with A.J. DeLaGarza.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, Tommy Meyer (Chad Barrett 84), A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Landon Donovan, Marcelo Sarvas (Juninho 69), David Beckham, Mike Magee (Michael Stephens 70) - Edson Buddle, Robbie Keane.

TEAM NEWS

  • Coming off the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal vs. Toronto FC, the Galaxy made just two changes. The cup-tied Marcelo Sarvas came in for Juninho, and Tommy Meyer made his professional debut in place of Andrew Boyens.
  • “We were tired. You could see it in the start of the game [on Saturday], our guys didn’t have the energy we needed to have,” Arena said. “Probably could have changed half the team easily.”
  • The Galaxy lost for the first time at The Home Depot Center since the end of the 2010 season. They went unbeaten in 23 games in all competitions last year -- 17 regular-season home games, three playoff matches including MLS Cup 2011 as well as three CONCACAF Champions League matches.
  • “To go on a run like the run we were on, unbeaten at home, you have to have some breaks go your way,” Landon Donovan said. “(Saturday) it seemed like everything went against us.”
  • Edson Buddle picked up right where he left off in Major League Soccer, scoring in the season opener. Buddle scored 17 goals in 2010, one off the league lead, before heading to Germany the following year.
  • Then on Wednesday, the Galaxy were stunningly dumped out of the CONCACAF Champions League, losing 2-1 to Toronto FC at The Home Depot Center and dropping the series 4-3 on aggregate.
  • Ryan Johnson scored his second goal of the series in the first half to put TFC ahead, then after an own goal leveled terms once again, Nick Soolsma scored midway through the second half to give the Reds an historic victory.
  • Here’s the LA team: Josh Saunders, Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin (Dan Keat 72'), A.J. DeLaGarza, Tommy Meyer (Chad Barrett 84'), Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Juninho, Mike Magee (Paolo Cardozo 73'), Robbie Keane, Edson Buddle. Substitutes not used: Brian Perk, Hector Jimenez, Andrew Boyens, Michael Stephens.
  • “We played poorly in both boxes and that was the difference in the game,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “ ... There were chances there for us, we could have scored a number of goals tonight and we didn’t get the defending we needed on a couple of plays. We had to do a better job and the end result is we [lost] the game. There’s no one else to look at except ourselves in our locker room.”
  • Arena maintained 10 of 11 players from the league game at the weekend. Juninho came back into the midfield for the cup-tied Marcelo Sarvas, and rookie Tommy Meyer remained in central defense.
  • “He's was OK,” Arena said of Meyer. “He got caught on a couple of plays. Inexperienced player and got burned on a few of them. He's got to do a little bit better. He's got to learn from it.”
  • Said midfielder Mike Magee: “It's more mentality. We have the defenders. Obviously, you can't replace Omar [Gonzalez], but the mentality is not right. It's not the defenders, it's not the goalie, it's all of us. We're kind of lacking a bite, which is something that won us a championship last year. If you don't have a bite as a team, you're not going to beat anyone.”

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United were seconds away from a result to open the 2012 season before Sporting Kansas City netted a stoppage- time goal for a 1-0 victory at RFK Memorial Stadium.

  • United ‘keeper Bill Hamid had been the story of the first 90 minutes, stopping Sporting at every turn. But in the third minute of stoppage time, second-half substitute C.J. Sapong lost his marker on a corner kick, found space and placed a clinical header inside the near post for the match-winner.
  • Newcomer Hamdi Salihi started up top alongside 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario, while Branko Boskovic made his long-awaited return to the United lineup for Ben Olsen in the center of midfield.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Robbie Russell, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard - Chris Pontius (Danny Cruz 74), Perry Kitchen, Branko Boskovic (Josh Wolff 66), Andy Najar - Dwayne De Rosario, Hamdi Salihi (Maicon Santos 80).

TEAM NEWS

  • United were able to create just one on-target attempt on the night, that coming after 83 minutes when Maicon Santos had a direct free kick from some 30 yards saved.
  • “I thought we were pretty one dimensional as a whole,” United boss Olsen said. “We wanted to go big early, but we needed to find forwards’ feet a little more, and then come back and switch the point of attack.”
  • As expected, Olsen paired Albanian international Hamdi Salihi with the 2011 MLS MVP, Dwayne De Rosario. Salihi exited after 80 minutes in favor of Maicon.
  • “We didn’t help him [Salihi] out much,” Olsen said. “It’s our job to give him the right service to do his job. Andy [Najar] got in on his side several times, but our final ball was lacking, and that will get better.”
  • Branko Boskovic did make his first league appearance since last April 21, playing 66 minutes.
  • “[Chemistry] will take time,” United midfielder Chris Pontius said. “It takes a lot of practice, in getting to know players’ runs, and where they want to get the ball. I don’t expect it to be clicking next game, but that’s all a process of figuring things out.”
  • Josh Wolff, who came on for Boskovic for the final 24 minutes, was named a player/assistant coach in the days leading up to the match.
  • “Josh’s experiences all over the world, his personality, and his skills on the pitch will make him an integral part of the team this season,” said Olsen.“A leader on and off the field, Josh will play a greater role both on the field and in the locker room with these new coaching responsibilities. It is great to see that Josh will be taking the next step of his career here with D.C. United and we are lucky to have him.”
  • United will suffer some key absences in the coming weeks. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid and defender Perry Kitchen have been called by the U.S. U-23 national team, and Andy Najar by Honduras, for the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Najar will be available for the LA match, while Hamid and Kitchen will miss out.
  • “There’s always going to be call-ups, whether it’s the full team or the Olympic team,” Olsen said. “It’s nothing we didn’t know about a year ago, and nothing we haven’t had time to prepare for.”
  • United also announced the signing of English midfielder Lewis Neal, who played 2011 with Orlando City FC of the NASL. Neal played in England with Stoke City FC, Preston North End FC, Notts County, Carlisle United and Shrewsbury Town FC, also playing in Iceland with IBV.
  • Home Grown Player Ethan White underwent surgery on his right knee during the week, and will be lost up to six weeks.