WFC Preview: Galaxy, Man. City look to close with win
The LA Galaxy and Manchester City will close out their participation in the World Football Challenge against one another on Sunday, when the two sides do battle at the Home Depot Center (4 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes).
Manchester City have had the better go of it during the WFC, having beaten Club América 2-0 and the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1. The Galaxy, on the other hand, lost their only other previous WFC match, falling 4-1 to Real Madrid.
This match will be played on Sunday afternoon, in the glorious sunlight of a late July afternoon in Southern California. Sunday’s forecast calls for a high of 79 degrees, which would lend itself to a standout afternoon of soccer between two clubs who are coming off successful league campaigns.
The Galaxy dropped two consecutive matches for the first time all year, losing 3-1 to Seattle in a US Open Cup match and then 4-1 to Real Madrid in a WFC encounter. However, the club rebounded nicely by beating Columbus 1-0 on Wednesday and the team will likely enter this game in high spirits because of it.
LA enter this match with an eye on the upcoming stretch of games. After Man. City, the club will play league games against Vancouver (July 30), Portland (Aug. 3) and FC Dallas (Aug. 6) before getting a breather ahead of the start of CONCACAF Champions League play, slated for mid-August.
For that reason, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said he would likely limit the participation of players to 45 minutes for most of his stars. The club could field a balanced team in either half, with stars and youngsters making up the squad on either side of halftime.
“We’re going to try and play as many players for 45 minutes as we can,” Arena said. “We’ve been in a difficult schedule over the last three or four weeks. It’s important for us to keep our players healthy.”
The Blues have done well to come together during this part of their preseason. Wins over Mexican side club América and Vancouver have given the Citizens a strong foundation, and a match against the Galaxy would add to it as the team heads back to Europe to continue their preseason afterwards.
This match, though, will be different. The other two games came within three days of one another, forcing manager Roberto Mancini to use several different lineups and utilize many of his players. Against LA, Mancini will likely try to emulate a regular-season match as he said he would like to play several players 90 minutes.
“It will be a very important game because it is the last game of the tournament,” Mancini said. “It is important we play with whole team for 90 minutes.”
Just who takes the field for City is anyone’s guess, as the roster is loaded with talent. Shaun Wright-Phillips has done well for himself this tournament while fellow Englishman Gareth Barry and Spaniard David Silva are fixtures in the midfield. Ongoing transfer talk of Carlos Tévez’s potential departure and Sergio “Kun” Agüero’s possible arrival has hounded the club, but Mancini and the players have done well to deflect the possible distractions brought about by such rumors.
LA Galaxy: David Beckham
As much as he downplayed the significance of facing Manchester City, Beckham will likely be flying against the Blues. The former longtime Manchester United star will likely want to stick it to his former rivals and will want to defend his home turf against a team to whom he has never lost.
Manchester City: Shaun Wright-Phillips
How stacked is Man City’s roster? Wright-Phillips could either be a starter or could not play in the match. If last season is any indicator, he may not play. But if the WFC means anything, Wright-Phillips will be part of the starting XI. The speedster has scored a spectacular goal in each of Man. City’s WFC matches thus far, and could be forcing Mancini’s hand in the process.