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COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (KCAL)
After a couple of weeks to determine what he has, Steve Sampson takes his new club on the road for the first time, heading to face the red-hot Columbus Crew, riding a club-record 10-game unbeaten streak and losers just twice since opening the campaign with three consecutive defeats. Still, the Crew can't get past the MetroStars for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, trailing by a pair of points, while the Galaxy still lead the Western Conference and MLS overall table (tied with Kansas City) - though they are now just four points ahead of last-place San Jose.
REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Rick Eddy; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 1 games; FC/gm: 29.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 0
Games involving Crew: P1 W1 L0 T0; FC/gm: 29.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 0
Games involving Galaxy: first game
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: DF Stephen Herdsman (L groin strain); GK Matt Jordan (R calf strain) ... LOS ANGELES GALAXY - NONE REPORTED
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: Frankie Hejduk (USA, Sept. 4 v El Salvador); Erick Scott (Costa Rica, Sept. 5 v. Guatemala) ... LA: Cobi Jones (USA, Sept. 4 v El Salvador); Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela, Sept. 4 v Paraguay); Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica, Sept. 4 v Panama); Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala, Sept. 5 v Costa Rica)
SUSPENDED: LA: Paul Broome (through Sept. 4); Marcelo Saragosa (through Sept. 4)
YELLOW PERIL: LA: Paul Broome (20 CP); Carlos Ruiz (20 CP); Marcelo Saragosa (20 CP) ... CHI: Chris Armas (19 CP); Evan Whitfield (18 CP)
The teams meet for the third and final time this season, the only one at Crew Stadium. The Galaxy won one of the encounters at The Home Depot Center, with a draw in the last.
Both the Galaxy and Crew narrowly missed chances to break their scoreless deadlock in the closing minutes in their last meeting, Aug. 14 in Carson in what was Sigi Schmid's last match in charge.
Carlos Ruiz nearly put home a quick-thinking backheel from the heart of the box with 10 minutes to go, but hooked it just over the bar. The Crew raced to the other end where Columbus defender Duncan Oughton hammered a drive from well outside the area - only to see it come back off the underside of the bar.
Here's Schmid's team (4-3-1-2): Kevin Hartman - Sasha Victorine, Tyrone Marshall, Hong Myung-Bo, Paul Broome - Cobi Jones (Arturo Torres 69), Marcelo Saragosa, Ned Grabavoy (Peter Vagenas 78) - Andreas Herzog - Carlos Ruiz, Jovan Kirovski (Alejandro Moreno 64).
Here's Greg Andrulis's team (3-5-2): Jon Busch - Nelson Akwari, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall - Chris Wingert (Eric Denton 90), Simon Elliott, Duncan Oughton, Ross Paule, Frankie Hejduk - Edson Buddle (Jeff Cunningham 78), Kyle Martino (Devin Barclay 90).
The Galaxy claimed a 2-0 victory on Victoria Street in their first meeting on April 24. Carlos Ruiz extended his goal-scoring streak to start the season to four games, hitting for both goals.
Ruiz put his side ahead in the 58th minute from the penalty spot after Eric Denton scythed down Joseph Ngwenya in the area, Ruiz coolly sending Crew 'keeper the wrong way for the first goal. He then finished off the match with aplomb eight minutes from time, neatly meeting a cross from Paul Broome from the left corner and sending it home with a first-time volley.
A year ago, the Galaxy didn't lose in their three meetings, winning the final two at home after a 1-1 draw to open the MLS season in First Kick 2003.
In the opener, the Galaxy came from behind to claim a share of the spoils in Columbus (Buddle 35 - Ruiz 63). Los Angeles then won on July 30 in Carson in the final match before the All-Star break (Martinez 44, Lalas 52 - Maisonneuve 79), before winning again 3-1 just 10 days later at the same ground (Ruiz 68 pen, 86; Serna 89 - Buddle 74).
The visiting team last won in the series three years ago, when Columbus won 2-0 at the Rose Bowl in the final of the two 2001 meetings (July 4). That's the only away victory in the series over the last four seasons.
Carlos Ruiz leads the all-time Galaxy goalscoring records v Columbus with 7 goals (along with 1 assist), while Cobi Jones is the points leader with 4 goals, 4 assists. No other current Los Angeles player has a goal against the Crew - Tyrone Marshall (4 assists) and Paul Broome (3 assists) the only with multiple points.
Jeff Cunningham leads the Crew all-time v Los Angeles with 3 goals, 3 assists. Edson Buddle also has 3 goals (but no assists). Ross Paule has 2 goals, 5 assists v the Galaxy (none while in Columbus), while Manny Lagos also carried over 2 goals (with 1 assist, from his time at San Jose).
Coaches record: Greg Andrulis v LA: P9 W2 L4 T3 ... Steve Sampson vs. CLB: first game
ALL-TIME (21 meetings): Galaxy 8 wins (0 shootout), 28 goals ... Crew 9 wins (3 shootout), 28 goals ... 4 draws
IN COLUMBUS (8 meetings): Crew 4 wins (1 shootout), 14 goals ... Galaxy 1 win (0 shootout), 11 goals ... 3 draws
The Metros took the lead after 21 minutes when Amado Guevara's wickedly bending free kick was tipped onto the bar by Crew 'keeper Jon Busch, but after he crashed heavily into the post, John Wolyniec was there to finally prod the rebound over the line from close range.
The Crew then leveled terms 14 minutes later when Kyle Martino was tripped up by center back Jeff Parke as he tried to burst between Parke and Eddie Pope in the area, Ross Paule converting the spot kick by just getting it past Jonny Walker's dive.
Crew 'keeper Jon Busch was credited with 12 saves to hold up his end of the result, but Walker will likely thank his posts. Crew rookie defender Chad Marshall hit the woodwork with a header in the first half, and in the second Edson Buddle had a low drive come off the base of the frame. Then in stoppage time Marshall saw another free header from a corner stopped, this time on the goal line by Metro midfielder Pablo Brenes.
"Status quo," Crew head coach Greg Andrulis said. "Nothing changed in the league. Nothing changed against New York. It's an empty feeling."
Andrulis made no changes to the team that drew 2-2 with D.C. United at home the previous Saturday. Here's Andrulis's team (3-5-2): Jon Busch - Nelson Akwari (Danny Szetela 74), Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall - Frankie Hejduk (David Testo 83), Duncan Oughton, Ross Paule, Simon Elliott, Chris Wingert - Edson Buddle, Kyle Martino (Jeff Cunningham 73)
"Although we didn't win the game, we didn't give them three points against us at home and give them confidence. There's a lot of positives," Martino said.
Erick Scott has been called into Costa Rica's national team for their qualifying matches against Guatemala and Canada beginning this weekend.
The Columbus Crew continued adding to their club record unbeaten streak, but failed to overtake the MetroStars atop the Eastern Conference, the two teams settling for a frustrating 1-1 draw on Sunday evening at Giants Stadium. The Crew's undefeated run went to 10 games as they stayed in second in the East, on 31 points from 22 games, two behind the MetroStars with a match in hand.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
An 89th-minute goal from Carlos Ruiz saved Sampson's debut from ruin, where the home side had to come back to secure a share of the points against a Chicago Fire side that carried the majority of the play.
Damani Ralph finally gave the visitors the advantage midway through the second half, collecting a pass on the right flank after a dreadful giveaway and ripping a low angled drive through a defender's legs that settled inside Kevin Hartman's right-hand post (67).
But after seemingly weathering a heavy storm over the final quarter of the match, the Fire conceded the equalizer when Cobi Jones sent Arturo Torres into the right corner, and his cross into the mixer was meant by Ruiz, who saw his header just bound over the line past Chicago 'keeper Henry Ring for a tie for the league lead with 11 goals.
Sampson made very few changes in his debut to the system put in place by Sigi Schmid. He made just one change to the team from the previous match, a drab scoreless draw at home against the Columbus Crew the weekend before, as Ryan Suarez came back from suspension into central defense for Hong Myung-Bo.
Here's Sampson's team (4-3-1-2): Kevin Hartman - Sasha Victorine, Tyrone Marshall, Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome - Cobi Jones, Marcelo Saragosa, Ned Grabavoy (Guillermo Gonzalez 76) - Andreas Herzog (Arturo Torres 76) - Carlos Ruiz, Jovan Kirovski (Alejandro Moreno 26).
Before the trade deadline, the Galaxy dealt defender Ricky Lewis to the Colorado Rapids for their sixth-round pick in next year's SuperDraft. The 22-year-old Project-40 player made 13 appearances for Los Angeles this season.
That move will open up a roster place which will reportedly be used to acquire 6-foot-3 striker Alan Gordon from the Portland Timbers of the A-League. Gordon is expected to be signed once the A-League season is completed; the Timbers are in the first round of the playoffs beginning this weekend. Gordon scored 17 goals in 27 matches this year in his rookie campaign.
"Alan is a proven talent in the A-League," said Galaxy coach Steve Sampson. "He's a tall target player and can hold the ball well with his back toward goal."
The Los Angeles Galaxy return to action for the first time in two weeks, still tied atop the Western Conference with the Kansas City Wizards with 35 points from 23 matches, though the Wizards have a match in hand. The Galaxy had a nervy start to the Steve Sampson era in their last match, a late goal giving them a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire on Aug. 21 at The Home Depot Center.