CARSON, Calif. — Sunday’s match against Chivas USA is, the story goes, more than a game.
The SuperClasico (9 pm ET; ESPN/ESPN Deportes, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) is for bragging rights. It’s a throw-the-records-out-the-window, may-the-toughest-team-win type of event. One side draws a line in the sand and dares the other to walk past it.
Or it should be that kind of game, anyway. But the fact is, for the Galaxy, it’s not even the most important game the team has coming up. Not even close.
“There’s no question that if we had to choose a game to win, we’d choose the Motagua game,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said.
Motagua will host the Galaxy on Oct. 20 in the Group A finale of the CONCACAF Champions League. A win for the Galaxy and they will secure a berth in the quarterfinals of the tournament, regardless of what happens two days prior when Alajuelense visit Morelia.
Given the enormity of Thursday’s match, and the overall meaningless nature of Sunday’s match – the Galaxy have already clinched the Supporters’ Shield and Chivas are already out of the playoff picture – how will LA approach the pair of games?
“We’re playing Sunday’s game to win like we do every game,” LA manager Bruce Arena said. “Nothing changes. And we’re playing Thursday to win. That’s how our preparation is. We may use some different players, but our players are capable of playing in both games.”
Will the players who take the field Sunday think about Thursday at all during the SuperClasico?
“I’ve learned that you can’t go into any game cautious or passive or thinking not to get hurt, or you don’t want to wear yourself out, because then bad things can happen,” Donovan said. “We’re going to take things the right way, we’re going to approach it the right way and then once [we hit] Sunday at eight o’clock, we’ll start preparing for Motagua.”
Robbie Keane returned to the Galaxy days after reports from Ireland had him missing four weeks due to an adductor injury.
Galaxy staff had not immediately evaluated the Irish captain, though Arena expressed some optimism regarding his player’s health.
“The little I’ve seen of him today, he looks better than I thought,” Arena said Friday after training. “But my knowledge of the anatomy is, I know an arm and a leg and that’s about the extent of it. I think our doctors and trainers have to make an evaluation on that but he looked all right to me today.”
Arena refused to discuss any sort of timeline with regards to Keane’s possible return.
“I can’t until those people examine him and have an opinion,” he said.
Becks on Rooney suspension
Neither David Beckham nor Wayne Rooney were part of Euro 2008 as England failed to qualify for the tournament. And it looks like neither may play a factor next summer, either.
Beckham has not played for England since before the 2010 World Cup, but Rooney’s shocking exclusion was announced Thursday as UEFA slapped him with a three-match ban for his ill-timed red card in England's 2-2 draw at Montenegro in both teams' qualifying finale last week. The suspension will keep him out of the group stage in Poland/Ukraine next summer.
“I was surprised at him getting three games, I must admit,” Beckham said. “This day and age, these things happen. In the past, players who have done the same have gotten either one game or two games at most.”
England head coach Fabio Capello has not indicated whether or not he’ll be dropping Rooney from the squad for the tournament.