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THE HOME DEPOT CENTER
1 pm PT (ESPN2)
Almost from the start this has been one of the pitched rivalries in Major League Soccer - the cross-country powers met twice in the MLS Cup Final in the first four years, and between them have far and away played in more championship games than any other clubs. The two clubs have struggled recently though: the Los Angeles Galaxy come in after a win against stadium-mate Chivas USA ended a six-game winless streak, while D.C. United have been bedeviled by inconsistency all year, starting this two-game trip with a 1-1 draw in Kansas City in an MLS Cup 2004 rematch.
REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Steven Davidson; JAR (opposite): David Bragg; 4th: Ramon Hernandez
MLS Career: 115 games; FC/gm: 26.7; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 30; pens: 19
Games involving Galaxy: P22 W11 L8 T3; FC/gm: 25.4; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 2; pens: 5
Games involving United: P28 W16 L9 T3; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 9; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Ben Benditson (sports hernia) ... D.C. UNITED - OUT: DF Bryan Namoff (hip flexor strain); DF Tim Merritt (plantar fasciatis); FW Alecko Eskandarian (concussion); PROBABLE: DF David Stokes (ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: FW Landon Donovan (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup) ... DC: MF Ben Olsen; FW Santino Quaranta (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup)
SUSPENDED: LA: Jovan Kirovski (through July 27)
WARNINGS: LA: Paulo Nagamura (18 CP) ... DC: Bobby Boswell (20 CP)
This is the first of two meetings this season between the cross-country rivals from the inaugural MLS season, their only encounter set for The Home Depot Center. Their only meeting for RFK Stadium is set for Aug. 20.
A year ago, the teams played to two 1-1 draws - one at each ground - while the Galaxy won a wild 4-2 contest on May 19 at RFK Stadium. They played to a 1-1 draw first in Carson on April 10 with a dramatic Carlos Ruiz equalizer (Ruiz 85 - Cerritos 68 pen).
Then in the first game at RFK Stadium, Alejandro Moreno scored the second-fastest hat trick in MLS history - all set up by Andreas Herzog (Cerritos 46+, Adu 67 - Moreno 35, 39, 43; Ngwenya 44). The feat was second to another Galaxy performance, when Harut Karapetyan scored three goals in five minutes in a Los Angeles 8-1 victory at Dallas on June 4, 1998. In addition, for Moreno, it was five goals on five consecutive shots on the year, the first player in MLS history to achieve that feat. The four goals in nine minutes were the quickest ever allowed by United.
hen on July 17 on East Capitol Street, the teams again played to a 1-1 draw as the Galaxy grabbed the equalizer on a controversial penalty (Nelsen 47+ - Ruiz 66 pen).
Five of the last six matches in the series have ended tied after 90 minutes - two of the three last year, then the previous before that. Both meetings in 2002 were ended with golden goals, the Galaxy's 2-1 win at home on March 23 from Ruiz, and United's 1-0 win in Washington on June 29 (Bobby Convey).
The teams have of course played in two MLS Cup Finals, both won by D.C. United (1996: 3-2 aet; 1999: 2-0).
Coaches record: Steve Sampson vs. DC: first game ... Peter Nowak v LA: P3 W0 L1 D2
ALL-TIME (24 meetings): Galaxy 12 wins (0 shootout), 36 goals ... United 10 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals ... 2 draws
AT LOS ANGELES (11 meetings): Galaxy 6 wins (0 shootout), 14 goals ... United 4 wins (0 shootout), 10 goals ... 1 draw
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Galaxy came into the match with a six-game winless run, while Chivas USA had won back-to-back matches for the first time in club history, after a second league win and survival in their first U.S. Open Cup match.
But after a bitterly contested first hour that saw neither team give any quarter, the introduction of Herculez Gomez as a substitute for the Galaxy changed the match. Just three minutes after coming on he sent a long-range blast past Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan, off the inside the post and into the goal to put the Galaxy into the lead (64).
Then after narrowly missing on a couple more chances, he sealed the match in stoppage time, sent in alone by Naldo da Conceicao before coolly slotting past Guzan from just outside the box for his third goal in two games (93+).
Galaxy coach Steve Sampson made two changes to the team that lost 2-1 to the MetroStars at Giants Stadium the previous Saturday. Guillermo Ramirez came back into the team, for Herculez Gomez in a wide midfield role, while Jovan Kirovski also returned from injury, coming in for Alan Gordon.
Here's Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Troy Roberts, Pablo Chinchilla (Chris Albright 46), Ugo Ihemelu, Todd Dunivant - Michael Enfield, Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas (Herculez Gomez 61), Guillermo Ramirez - Jovan Kirovski (Cobi Jones 46), Ednaldo da Conceicao
"Tonight was a tale of two halves," said Galaxy coach Steve Sampson. "In the first half I thought Chivas did a good job of bringing a lot of energy to the game, and controlling the rhythm of the game. In the second half, the addition of Cobi (Jones) and Chris (Albright) on the right side, and then Herculez (Gomez) coming in made the difference."
The Los Angeles Galaxy put an end to their winless run at six games, winning the Super Clásico for third time in three tries this year, knocking off Chivas USA 2-0 at The Home Depot Center last Saturday. The Galaxy are now in third place in the Western Conference with 28 points from 18 matches after the midweek games, three points behind the San Jose Earthquakes and six behind West pace-setter FC Dallas.
Gomez's inclusion into the game in the 61st minute was the turning point of the game. His two goals Saturday give him three goals and an assist in his last three games. And the Galaxy could have had two more goals courtesy of Gomez.
"Three goals in three games and one assist. An awful lot of credit obviously needs to go to him for his eye for the goal and the energy that he brought to the field, not only offensively, but also defensively," Sampson said. "Normally, I would've substituted him off the field with the injury that he had sustained, but we didn't have any substitutions so he had to stay on and he gutted it out and he did a great job."
The win came in just their second home game since June 11. After the game against United, the Galaxy once again hit the road - where they haven't won away from The Home Depot Center this season.
"It's good that we can continue our good homestand. Our results at home have been good," said veteran 'keeper Kevin Hartman. "We really needed to make sure that we were headed in the right direction. It could be a turning point in our season, but we have to make sure that we continue what happened tonight."
Reinforcements are on the way too for the Galaxy, to try and help the Galaxy extend Saturday's result. Michael Umana and Tyrone Marshall will return from Gold Cup duty on Sunday. Pete Vagenas, Jovan Kirovski and Chris Albright all got minutes against Chivas after missing a number of games through injury. The Galaxy should be as close to full strength as they have been in a month starting this week.
"Obviously guys like Landon Donovan and Tyrone Marshall would have made a huge difference in this game. You just can't replace that kind of experience, but I'm very proud of the guys who have been getting their playing time," Sampson said.
Albright played for the first time since May 25, missing nine games in all. "It's good to get back; obviously I played a little bit differently than I would have. I just tried to stay back and feel the game out. We got a goal kind of early so I was able to sit back. It was a good game to get back (into the flow)," he said.
On Monday, before a sellout crowd, the Galaxy lost 2-0 to Real Madrid in their high-profile friendly. Michael Owen scored after six minutes when he tucked home a Zinedine Zidane pass, then substitute Roberto Soldado beat Hartman with a drive from the top of the area 15 minutes from time.
Here's the Galaxy team: Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright (Troy Roberts 73), Todd Dunivant, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Cobi Jones (Ednaldo Conceicao 55), Guillermo Ramirez (Alan Gordon 88), Peter Vagenas (Ned Grabavoy 79), Paulo Nagamura, Jovan Kirovski (Michael Enfield 83), Herculez Gomez
Last year's MLS Cup Finalists ended their season series completely deadlocked, each with one victory (both by a single goal) and two draws and each scoring four goals.
The teams traded goals on either side of halftime. United took the lead in the 44th minute when Jaime Moreno deflected a pass between two Kansas City defenders at midfield to Josh Gros, who ran unmolested to the top of the Wizards area. He held off Wizards defender before firing a shot that deflected off the Wizards defender and under Bo Oshoniyi just inside the right post.
After United had an apparent goal ruled out for offside, the Wizards tied the game less than a minute later when Scott Sealy knocked home the rebound of Chris Klein's shot from the top of the penalty area after Klein played a one-two with Victorine in midfield. Nick Rimando saved Klein's shot but Sealy pounced on the rebound and tapped it back the scrambling 'keeper.
United boss Peter Nowak made no changes to the team that defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 at RFK Stadium the Friday previous. Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Nick Rimando - Brandon Prideaux, Bobby Boswell, John Wilson - Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Clyde Simms, Joshua Gros - Christian Gomez (Jamil Walker 71) - Freddy Adu, Jaime Moreno
"We created more chances than them and unfortunately, we couldn't put them away," Moreno said. "We disappointed. We could have gone away with three points, but that's soccer."
D.C. United again failed to build on an impressive victory, settling for a 1-1 draw with the Kansas City Wizards on Wednesday night at Arrowhead Stadium. United are now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 26 points from 18 matches, a point ahead of the MetroStars but still three points behind the Wizards, fully 11 points out of first place.
D.C. United had nine shots on goal and limited the Wizards to four. It was not quite the same type of game as the season-high 14 shots on goal that D.C. United had against the MetroStars on June 12 in a scoreless draw, but it came pretty close. Eight of the 11 field players who played had a shot on goal.
"We should have won this game. Everybody in the locker room feels the same way," D.C. United coach Peter Nowak said. "We had a lot of chances, they had a lot of chances - we need to do a better job of looking for the second goal."
United were content to allow the Wizards to hold the ball. "Part of our strategy was to drop off," D.C. United defender Brandon Prideaux said. "Kansas City likes to counterattack so it makes sense to drop off and have them break us down and see if they can pass it around us. By and large I don't think they did that."
Just like their opponents, who took issue with the flag staying down on United's goal, D.C. had their own concerns with the offside flag that went up to rule out Moreno's apparent second for United just seconds before the Wizards pulled level.
"From my perspective when I saw the replay it was different," Nowak said. "We had chances to score goals and we need to finish those."
Striker Alecko Eskandarian will not play for at least the next two weeks after a consultation with a second neurologist on his concussion suffered June 18 in a collision with New England 'keeper Matt Reis.