CARSON, Calif. - As the Los Angeles Galaxy head into their rematch against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night at The Home Depot Center, the two words most tossed around in the pre-match buildup have been redemption - and revenge.
The Galaxy opened their season in Columbus and it was their poorest showing of the year, a 3-0 loss. Since that game, head coach Steve Sampson has made two changes to his starting 11. Landon Donovan has started every game since that lost day in Columbus, and so has rookie defender Ugo Ihemelu. In an ironic twist of fate, both players will be missing for the second Columbus game.
Donovan is with the U.S. national team, and Ihemelu is serving a one-game suspension after being sent off last weekend. The loss of those two players leaves Sampson in a position to field a team very similar on paper to the one that was so handily defeated just a couple of months ago.
Games aren't played on paper though, and Sampson and the rest of the Galaxy are looking to accomplish two things on Wednesday.
"First off, we're playing at home, so the onus is on us to get the job done and get the three points," Sampson said. "Second is to erase the 3-0 result in Columbus in the first game of the season, and to show how much this team has improved since then."
Getting the points at home has been the standard for L.A. this season, claiming a perfect 15 points in their five home contests. Columbus will prove to be an interesting test however for the home side. Over the course of the first nine MLS seasons, Columbus is the only team to post a winning record against the Galaxy - a point not lost on Pete Vagenas.
"We've always had good games against Columbus," said Vagenas. "It's time we put together a full 90 minutes. I think we've yet to do it."
If the Galaxy can put together a complete game on Wednesday night, the Crew will have their hands full, even without Donovan in the lineup. And if the Galaxy can continue their winning ways at home, it will provide this team with a renewed sense of confidence heading into the long summer months that will see the Galaxy on the road quite a bit.
"It's a measuring stick for us," said Vagenas. "It's important that we redeem ourselves. They did hand it to us in the first game of the season."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.