CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy have been Major League Soccer's best team the past three months, and all they need to do to assure themselves a playoff berth — and a chance to defend their MLS Cup crown — is beat the league's worst team.
Sounds simple, right?
“Toronto has kind of got our number,” midfielder Mike Magee said on the eve of Saturday night's meeting at HDC.
Indeed they do. Toronto haven't lost to the Galaxy since 2009, a six-game stretch that climaxed in March with a stunning triumph, clinched at the Home Depot Center, in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
The Reds might be 5-17-7 and likely destined to finish 19th of 19 clubs overall, but LA know the numbers don't always dictate results.
“We're definitely not overlooking them,” Magee admitted. “It's definitely something when you find out that you're playing them, you remember what it felt like. Obviously, they eliminated us in the Champions League. So you definitely have a bad taste in your mouth.”
Toronto toppled the Galaxy on 4-3 aggregate in March, the first real signs of LA's early-season problems, claiming the home-and-home series with a 2-1 triumph in Southern California. The Galaxy believed they could win the regional club title, so the defeat stung like few others.
“That left a sour taste in all our mouths, and we weren't happy with how that finished,” said captain Landon Donovan, who acknowledged it would be satisfying to claim a postseason berth against the Reds: “We're lucky that we get a chance at redemption.”
The all-time series is even, at 3-3-6, including the CCL games, and 2-2-2 at HDC.
90 MINUTES?: Landon Donovan went 77 minutes last week against Colorado, his first-team return from a hamstring strain, and he received another half-hour on the field in LA's 0-0 CCL draw Wednesday night at Puerto Rico.
“I'm still getting my sharpness back,” he said. “I was out awhile and I haven't had a lot of time to train, so I think that's affected me a bit. I just need more touches on the ball, getting more comfortable, and the more time I play, the better it's going to be. ... The hope is I can get through 90 minutes [against Toronto] and be close to fully fit.”
NO BECKHAM: David Beckham hasn't trained in three weeks and will miss his third straight game Saturday night. But head coach Bruce Arena says he is “making progress.”
Arena refused to confirm whether Beckham would or wouldn’t play against Toronto. In a rather typical back-and-forth Friday, he said “there's a chance of seeing David.” He also said that “there's a chance of seeing David on the field.” And finally, he said that “there's a chance of David playing ... perhaps not in the game tomorrow, but there's a chance.”
So, he's definitely out?
“Not definite yet, but ... we'll see.”