Preview: LA can clinch, but face CCL vanquishers TFC
LA GALAXY vs TORONTO FC
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
September 22, 2012 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #279)
7:30 p.m. PT (KDOC/KWHY; TSN/RDS2)
The LA Galaxy look to continue their march up the Western Conference table when they entertain Toronto FC in an interconference match Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy have recorded three consecutive shutouts in rising into a tie for third place in the West, last defeating the Colorado Rapids 2-0. Eliminated already from playoff contention, Toronto FC are now winless in their last nine matches, coming off a 1-1 home draw with Philadelphia Union.
REFEREE: Yader Reyes. AR1 (bench): Craig Lowry; AR2 (opposite): George Gansner; 4th: Jesus Cisneros
MLS Career: 20 games; FC/gm: 26.9; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 7; pens: 3
- LA GALAXY — OUT: DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (L ankle sprain); FW Landon Donovan (L hamstring strain); DF David Junior Lopes (L ankle sprain)
- TORONTO FC — OUT: GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); FW Danny Koevermans (L knee ACL tear); DF Ty Harden (lower abdominal strain); MF Torsten Frings (L hip); DOUBTFUL: FW Eric Hassli (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: LA: A.J. DeLaGarza, Marcelo Sarvas ; TOR: Eric Hassli, Torsten Frings
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: LA: David Beckham, David Junior Lopes ; TOR: Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Ryan Johnson, Reggie Lambe
- ALL-TIME (10 meetings): Galaxy 3 wins, 10 goals ; Toronto FC 2 wins, 9 goals ; Ties 5
- AT LA (5 meetings): Galaxy 2 wins, 8 goals ; Toronto FC 1 win, 6 goals ; Ties 2
4/13: TOR 0, LA 0
6/11: LA 2, TOR 2 (Birchall 2; Angel 90 — Gordon 68, 90)
- While the teams are meeting for the first time in league play this season, they did meet in March in the CONCACAF Champions League, TFC winning the quarterfinal series 3-2 on aggregate, including a 2-1 at The Home Depot Center.
- In league play, the clubs have played to four consecutive draws, three scoreless draws in a row followed by a 2-2 result last June 11 in Carson.
- Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. TOR: P9 W4 L1 D4 ; Paul Mariner vs. LA: first game
The LA Galaxy extended their league undefeated streak to five games with a third consecutive shutout, defeating the Colorado Rapids 2-0 on Friday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy are in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 46 points from 28 games.
- The Galaxy took a 15th-minute lead on a neat passing sequence. Marcelo Sarvas played a give-and-go with Sean Franklin on the right flank, then squared the ball toward Robbie Keane. He dummied the ball for Landon Donovan, who played a quick through ball to the heart of the box and Keane easily side-footed past Rapids 'keeper Matt Pickens.
- Christian Wilhelmsson made his Major League Soccer debut one to remember, after a Sarvas long ball found him racing behind Colorado's backline in the 58th minute. He spun around to avoid two defenders at the top of the box, then fired low from 20 yards off the hands of the outstretched Pickens for the second Galaxy goal.
- Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made two changes to the team that recorded a 2-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at The Home Depot Center. Landon Donovan and Christian Wilhelmsson came into the team, replacing Hector Jimenez and David Beckham.
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Christian Wilhelmsson (Hector Jimenez 61), Marcelo Sarvas (Michael Stephens 83), Juninho, Mike Magee - Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan (Edson Buddle 78).
- The Galaxy have matched their season-long league winning streak with three games, which they previously over a week-long span (June 17-23).
- Their five-game undefeated streak also matches their longest of the season, and since losing back-to-back games June 30-July 4, the Galaxy have gone 8-1-2.
- Making his debut on the right side of the Galaxy midfield, Swedish international Christian Wilhelmsson scored his first MLS goal.
- "As we train more and play more games, we should link up better at times," said right back Sean Franklin. "We talked at halftime about getting each other some space to open up defenders, and I think over time it's going to be a good thing having him on the wing near us."
- "I think he's going to be a good addition to the team," Arena said. "He showed his experience on the field, excellent first touch, understands how to play on both sides of the ball. I think he's a player that's certainly going to help us in this stretch run. ... I thought he played well. We went into the game hoping we'd get 60 minutes out of him. We managed that. Obviously, the goal was an important goal. Probably not the best goal of his career, but we're going to take it."
- "It was his first game, so we've got to iron out some kinks with all of us," said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. "We have to figure out how he wants to play, but he contributed. Not the most beautiful goal, but it counts, and I thought he played a real solid 60 minutes."
- Donovan returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 12, and contributed his 12th assist of the season, now sitting in a tie for third in MLS.
- "Landon hasn't played in a while, so it was good to get him some minutes tonight, we probably could have let him go 90 minutesóneeded to be safe, he was tired and we just got to play him back into form," said Arena. "I would think in a couple of weeks he's going to be at 100 percent."
- Marcelo Sarvas collected his first MLS assists in the match. He started his 12th consecutive league match, coinciding with the Galaxy's hot streak.
- "Marcelo was excellent tonight," Arena said. "Again, we see more of the same with him and Juninho. Very good partnership in the midfield. They've been outstanding on both sides of the ball. Good with their passing, good at winning balls. Just invaluable members of our team. They've been outstanding."
- After a two-game absence, Robbie Keane returned to the scoresheet with his team-leading 12th goal. He has a goal or an assist in seven of his last eight games; since returning from the European Championships, he has a goal or an assist in 12 of the 14 games that he has played, tallying nine goals and six assists in that time.
- Edson Buddle came off the bench for a second consecutive appearance after going four months without a league outing.
- "He's coming around; he's looking like the old Edson now," said Arena. "I think he's passed the injury, now it's just a matter of getting him in form, in terms of getting his first touch a little bit better, which I thought he did a good job tonight, holding the ball up. A little bit better on his finishing and getting his fitness right, so he'll be important for us as well as we close out the regular season."
- The Galaxy recorded a third consecutive defensive shutout, the first time this season they have recorded clean sheets in consecutive matches. They have gone 313 minutes without conceding.
- "I think everyone's stepped up their game since our backline's been back together. I think that having a confident backline and having a group that plays well together gives the rest of the guys confidence to just worry about playing their game and they don't have to worry about us letting in goals like we did at the beginning of the year," said defender Omar Gonzalez. "Everyone's just a lot more comfortable."
- On Wednesday, the Galaxy played to a scoreless draw at the Puerto Rico Islanders in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Galaxy have seven points from three games in Group 5, four ahead of El Salvador's AD Isidro Metap·n, who have a game in hand.
- Here's the Galaxy team: Brian Perk - Bryan Gaul, Andrew Boyens, Tommy Meyer, HÈctor JimÈnez; Michael Stephens, Rafael Garcia, Jose Villarreal (Marcelo Sarvas 66), Kenney Walker (Juninho 80; Edson Buddle, Pat Noonan (Landon Donovan 60)
Toronto FC had their league winless run extended to nine games, playing to a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, with 22 points from 29 games.
- Toronto FC took the lead in the 57th minute. After taking down a long pass from Darren O'Dea deep down the right side, Luis Silva put a ball back across the box that Eric Hassli controlled and buried into the lower right corner.
- But with five minutes remaining, Union found the equalizer. A low cross from Antoine Hoppenot made its way through traffic into the six-yard box and Sheanon Williams -- forward for a free kick that had long since been cleared -- tapped home from close range.
- TFC head coach Paul Mariner made two changes to the team that dropped a 2-1 decision to the Chicago Fire at BMO Field. Terry Dunfield and Ryan Johnson returned from international duty, coming into the team in place of Andrew Wiedeman and Quincy Amarikwa.
- TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Jeremy Hall, Darren O'Dea, Richard Eckersley, Logan Emory - Reggie Lambe, Aaron Maund, Terry Dunfield, Ryan Johnson - Eric Hassli (Quincy Amarikwa 80), Luis Silva.
- Toronto FC saw their winless streak hit nine games, matching the nine consecutive games they lost to start the 2012 league campaign. TFC are 0-6-3 since their last victory, July 18 vs. Colorado.
- "You know what it is, we need to start winning games," said defender Richard Eckersley. "I think our players need to realize they need to take a long hard look at themselves. You know come off the Chicago game, yeah it was an improvement but we still not winning and were still not good enough for this franchise."
- The game-tying goal was the 12th this season allowed by TFC in the final 15 minutes of matches, tied for third-most in MLS. MontrÈal has allowed 16 in the final quarter-hour; Chivas USA has allowed 13, and Portland also 12.
- "It feels like a loss, giving up one in the last five minutes like that again," defender Jeremy Hall said. Added midfielder Terry Dunfield: "It's the same old story. In the last 10 minutes, you could feel the nervousness on the field and in the end Philadelphia got a goal. ; It's almost like as soon as the clock hits 80 minutes there's tentativeness among the players. Naturally, you start to sag back, but there are going to be times in games when you do need to defend."
- Toronto FC are 3-2-3 when scoring the first goal, the second-worst record in the league. The New England Revolution are 5-5-3 when scoring first; the two teams are the only one thus far eliminated from playoff contention.
- "It's frustrating," defender Jeremy Hall said. "But you can say you have to be concentrated, you have to clear the ball, do this and that, but you just have to start to do it on the field. It sounds like a broken record, the same things over and over. We're just going to have to do it. I don't know what it is, if guys are going to have a go at each other or what not, it just has to be better. I thought we had good control of the game."
- Eric Hassli scored for the second time in as many games, his third goal since coming to Toronto FC from Vancouver. He's made six appearances for TFC, but suffered an ankle injury in the Philadelphia match and is scheduled to have further examinations this week. "He's extremely doubtful in my mind," Mariner said. "We're hoping it's not ligaments."
- Luis Silva recorded his second assist in as many games and now has four on the season, but did not add to his four goals on his rookie season.
- "I had my chances and I could have put them away," Silva said. "I think at least one of them should have gone in. I feel a little responsible for the tie." Said Mariner: "One hundred percent. He knows it. Normally you would put your mortgage on him. He created a great opportunity, whether he tried to bend it, just the wrong side of the post. The volley, a great lay-back from Ryan, he hit it right on the sweet spot, but he was leaning back, over the top. It's just unfortunate."
For a fifth consecutive game, Toronto FC scored one goal. "We've got to be more clinical — it's as simple as that. We've got to put our chances away," said Eckersley. "You might only get two or three in the game, you're not going to score everyone but you've got to hit a target and you've got to at least work the ëkeeper. I think it's important that we get it on target, basically."