Landon Donovan

Donovan to debut Saturday vs. RSL

both within minutes of the start of each half -- with the sublimest of touches. He opened the Columbus account in the eighth minute when he met a Manny Lagos with a glancing header while completely alone in the area, then after the break, was allowed to stroll onto the end of a curling Razov freekick from the flank and touch it home from inside the goal area (47).

  • Razov then finished off the night when a cross intended for Buddle was cleared by a Galaxy defender -- but only as far as Razov, who calmly finished (54).
  • "Our marking was not what it needs to be. I thought the one-goal deficit going into the second half was not necessarily something so terrible to overcome given we were playing against the wind," said Galaxy coach Steve Sampson. "But to give up that early goal in the second half was unacceptable."
  • Sampson was unable to count on the club's newest signing, Landon Donovan, after he came down with flu-like symptoms on matchday. In addition, new striker Naldo was unable to join the team while still awaiting his visa paperwork.
  • Here's Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Tyrone Marshall, Michael Umaña (Pablo Chinchilla 59), Todd Dunivant - Cobi Jones (Joseph Ngwenya 67), Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Paul Broome (Mubarike Chisoni 46) - Jovan Kirovski, Guillermo Ramirez
  • Sampson said he hadn't had his entire team together for the first time until early Saturday morning, when Michael Umaña and Pablo Chinchilla arrived from Costa Rica. Umaña started in central defense, while Chinchilla was a second-half substitute.
  • "Our marking had a lot to do with our guys not being able to play together and train together. It was obvious to me that there was a lack of communication in the back," Sampson said. "That will get sorted out. I do not have any qualms about the fact that we can solve that pretty quickly."
  • Donovan was still suffering from his illness early in the week, but is expected to be available at the weekend. Now the question is whether he will play as a striker, or in the midfield. "Coach Sampson has spoken to me, and he wants me to have a free role,' Donovan told the Pasadena Star-News. "I think that's when I play my best. We obviously have to have some kind of structure, but I play my best when I can move around and do what I'm good at."
  • Said defender Chris Albright: "He has a lot of big-game experience, and he's scored a lot of big goals,' Albright told the Star-News. "... He brings a level of danger in the midfield I don't think we've had for a while. He's the kind of player that can beat two or three guys and can find a pass. I don't think we've had someone with his creativity with the ball for a while, so he should help us a lot."
    Real Salt Lake claimed a point from the first-ever match in club history, facing trying conditions in batting to a scoreless draw with the MetroStars at Giants Stadium on Saturday. Real are tied for second place in the Western Conference with the San Jose Earthquakes, two points behind FC Dallas at this early stage.

  • An unbelievably difficult night greeted Real Salt Lake in their inaugural match. Torrential rain and winds gusting up to 48 miles per hour made passing almost impossible, not to mention any sort of cohesive play.
  • Still, Real goalkeeper D.J. Countess was the hero on the night with two tremendous saves, saving from Sergio Galvan Rey in the first half when the Colombian striker raced in alone on goal, and then a remarkable stop on John Wolyniec in the second half when he dove to turn away his downward header.
  • "D.J. was awesome. He stepped up," said said RSL coach John Ellinger. "That's why we picked him. If he plays like that all season, we'll all be happy."
  • "It's one of those nights when strange things are going to happen," Countess said. "It's very hard to read what's going to happen, if the ball's going to hold, if the ball's going to skip. What's going to happen? There are going to be fluke plays."
  • As expected, Real head coach John Ellinger put out a team filled with MLS experience in the club's first match. 10 of the starters had seen MLS action before - many with a considerable number of games - while the 11th (T&T international Marlon Rojas) cannot be considered a rookie either.
  • Here's Ellinger's team (4-3-1-2): D.J. Countess - Rusty Pierce, Eddie Pope, Nelson Akwari, Matt Behncke - Dipsy Selolwane, Brian Kamler, Marlon Rojas (Luke Kreamalmeyer 72) - Andy Williams - Clint Mathis, Jason Kreis.
  • "Those kinds of conditions, sometimes you had to laugh at the way the ball would spin and move away from the players," Ellinger. "We came in with the purpose of trying to win, but we'll definitely take a point right now."
  • Said Clint Mathis, making his return to Giants Stadium after coming back into MLS from a stint in Germany: "I think both teams had to be happy. It's definitely better than a loss. Sometimes it was fun, but it was definitely funny. It was frustrating when you try to do things right and it doesn't work out. You take your eyes off the ball and all of a sudden it wouldn't be there, but to be able to play your first franchise game on the road and get a point. It's a positive thing."
  • Real found it difficult to create anything in the first half, and 14 of their 15 goal attempts came after the break. But many of those were from long range.
  • "I thought we could have been a little more patient and got into the box a couple of times and gotten a little closer to try to put one away," Ellinger said.