On Saturday night, when the Galaxy take on the Metrostars at The Home Depot Center, the focus will be on the middle of the pitch. When healthy, the Metros bring one of the most talented midfield duos in the league to every game.
Last season, Amado Guevara won the league MVP award, and has been nothing short of brilliant again this season. In the offseason tthe Metros brought in former World Cup champ Youri Djorkaeff to team up with Guevara, thus giving the Metros two of the most creative and skilled players in all of MLS.
If the Galaxy are going to win at home Saturday, they will start by shutting down those two players. The injury bug that's been striking several MLS teams recently may have worked in L.A.'s favor last week when Djorkaeff went down with a calf injury. Listed as doubtful for the weekend's match, the Frenchman most likely will not play Saturday, but the Galaxy are still preparing as though he will be out there.
The large playing surface at The Home Depot Center could be the most challenging thing for the Galaxy to deal with, as both of the opposing midfielders can create nightmares for defenses if given the opportunity. That is something that head coach Steve Sampson and his team will look to take away from the Metros.
"You give a guy like Djorkaeff a lot of space and time and he can show his qualities." Said Sampson. "So, it's very important that we eliminate that."
Even with Djorkaeff potentially out of the lineup, Guevara alone can cause headaches with his ability to create chances for his teammates, as well as find the back of the net himself. He's another player that Sampson knows will provide a difficult match-up.
"Guevara is one of the top offensive players in the league," Sampson said, "and who we match up with him will have his hands full."
Possession will be key for the Galaxy to neutralize the Metros' talent and speed. When they do lose possession, good old-fashioned hustle from every position is going to be required to keep Guevara, and the rest of his teammates off balance.
Todd Dunivant and the rest of the Galaxy defense will have to be at their best and it's a challenge that he welcomes. "New York is very dynamic as an offensive team," said Dunivant. "It's an open field so we're going to have our work cut out for us chasing them around."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.