CARSON, Calif. – Spread out among their 34-game schedule, some games simply stand out more than others.
And for the LA Galaxy, Saturday’s visit from the New York Red Bulls is one of them (11 pm ET, ESPN2/Deportes).
“This is one of the marquee matchups,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “It is a big game. It’s one of those the league circles, and we kind of have an extra eye on.”
New York’s stable of stars – Thierry Henry, Rafa Márquez, Dwayne De Rosario, Joel Lindpere and Juan Agudelo - could make for difficult circumstances, but don’t expect the Galaxy to play the role of wide-eyed spectators.
“New York’s playing well right now and they have a lot of good players, from the back line all the way up top,” LA defender Omar Gonzalez said. “It’s going to be a challenge to just play our game. We’re at home and we’re not going to be sitting back. We’re trying to get after them.”
While the Galaxy will face some strong talent, the formation itself won’t be anything new to the team.
“It’s going to be a straight matchup, 4-4-2,” Dunivant said. “Both teams play 4-4-2. You kind of just have to win your battle, back up the guy next to you in case he gets beat and be real honest defending. That’s kind of the idea.”
Where New York have gained attention recently is in their forward line. Henry broke through recently and ended his scoring drought, having scored all three of his goals in the last three games, including two in a 4-0 rout of D.C. United on April 21.
Newcomer Luke Rodgers scored two goals against San Jose on April 16, and also has three in his last three games. Agudelo has been relegated to the bench but is still a potent force.
“They have three great forwards,” Gonzalez said. “It’s going to be challenging and fun to be going up against them. Henry is just a class player and it’s always great to be going up against him. All three of them are playing really great right now – Henry, Rodgers and Juan. Whoever is up there is going to be tough challenge.”
New York will carry a three-game winning streak into the game. Over those three matches, the Red Bulls have outscored their opponents 8-0.
But the Galaxy, too, have been stringing some positive outings together lately, despite a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas on the road last Sunday.
“To be honest, we’ve been playing real well,” Dunivant said. “Even the Dallas game we felt like we played well and we took it to them on their home field in bad conditions.We’re going into this game thinking we’re going to get three points.”
And if anything can help tilt the scales in the Galaxy’s favor, perhaps it’s the desire to avenge a 2-0 loss to New York in Carson last fall.
“Last year, they came in with a lot of hype and there was a lot of fanfare for that game here at Home Depot and they beat us,” Dunivant added. “So I think there’s a little revenge factor there.”