April 1, 2006 (WEEK #1) - MLS Game #3
It's a rematch of MLS Cup 2005 in the season opener for both teams, who took vastly different routes to the title game last year. The Galaxy became the lower seed ever to win the MLS title, thanks to Guillermo Ramirez's goal in extra time at Pizza Hut Park. The Revolution took over the lead in the Eastern Conference early last season and never looked back, cruising to the top seed in the division before using their home-field advantage to the fullest in getting to the title game, before losing to the Galaxy in extra time for the second time in four years in the cup final.
REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Nate Clement; 4th: Ricardo Salazar
MLS Career: 42 games; FC/gm: 30.9; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 3; pens: 12
Games involving Galaxy: P11 W4 L5 T2; FC/gm: 32.8; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 0; pens: 4
Games involving Revolution: P8 W5 L1 T2; FC/gm: 26.4; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 0; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - QUESTIONABLE: DF Todd Dunivant (L calf strain), FW Quavas Kirk (R foot fracture), FW Joseph Ngwenya (groin strain) ... NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: MF Khano Smith (L knee sprain); MF Jani Galik (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Matt Reis (R hamstring strain); DF Michael Parkhurst (R thigh strain); PROBABLE: FW Pat Noonan (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
HEAD-TO-HEADThis is the first of two league meetings this season for the 2005 MLS Cup Finalists, the only one set for The Home Depot Center. Their lone encounter in New England is set for little more than a month away, on May 6 at Gillette Stadium.
ALL-TIME (23 meetings): Galaxy 12 wins (2 shootout), 43 goals ... Revolution 7 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals ... 4 draws
AT LOS ANGELES: (12 meetings): Galaxy 8 wins (0 shootout), 23 goals ... Revolution 1 win (0 shootout), 11 goals ... 3 draws
LAST YEAR (MLS):
7/4: LA 1, NE 1 (Enfield 87 - Dorman 90)
7/27: NE 1, LA 1 (Joseph 26 - Gomez 16)
A year ago, the teams met twice in league play, with each match ending in a 1-1 draw, as the Galaxy took the lead in each game before seeing the Revolution respond in short order.
Then the clubs met in the MLS Cup Final on Nov. 12 at Pizza Hut Park, but the Revolution could not answer Guillermo Ramirez's goal in stoppage time in the first extra-time period that was the only goal in the Galaxy's championship victory.
It was the second time in four years the clubs had met in the MLS Cup Final, an extra-time goal also sealing the 2002 match at Gillette Stadium as Carlos Ruiz netted in the 113th minute.
The Revolution have won just once in southern California against the Galaxy, a 1-0 victory on July 4, 1996 - the league's inaugural season. Since then, the Galaxy have won eight of their home meetings with the Revolution with three draws.
The two clubs have exactly split their league season series each of the last five years. Three of those years they've met just twice - and each team has won once. In 2003 they met three times, with each club claiming one victory with the third meeting drawn.
Coaches record: Steve Sampson vs. NE: P2 W0 L0 D2 ... Steve Nicol v LA: P9 W3 L3 D3
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Los Angeles Galaxy begin defense of their 2005 MLS Cup championship with heavy hearts, as president and general manager Doug Hamilton will be remembered in a prematch ceremony on Saturday after he passed away during the preseason.
Hamilton's life will be remembered in a special video tribute, followed by a minute of celebration for what the Galaxy executive meant to the club and to soccer in the USA.
In addition, there will be further celebration on Saturday as the Galaxy receive their championship rings after last year's MLS Cup Final victory against the Revolution. MLS Commissioner Don Garber will be on hand for the on-field ceremony.
The Galaxy are 8-2-0 in their 10 MLS home openers, following a 3-1 victory against Real Salt Lake last year at The Home Depot Center. Their last loss at home to open a season came April 7, 2001, a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.
The Galaxy are one of the two MLS teams to have already played a competitive match this year, going down in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup to defending champion Deportivo Saprissa of Costa Rica. The Galaxy lost 3-2 on aggregate, playing to a scoreless draw at home on Feb. 23, then jumping out to a two-goal lead at halftime of the return match, only to see Saprissa score twice to send the game into extra-time, then claim victory and advancement.
In the scoreless first leg on Victoria Street, here's Steve Sampson's team: Kevin Hartman - Troy Roberts, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Nathan Sturgis, Cobi Jones, Marcelo Saragoza (75: Alan Gordon), Peter Vagenas, Herculez Gómez, Guillermo González (46: Josh Gardner), Landon Donovan.
In the return match, Josh Gardner put the Galaxy in the 18th minute, then he set up Landon Donovan for the Galaxy second five minutes from halftime. But Walter Centeno pulled a goal back for Saprissa just 40 seconds into the second half, then just 10 minutes Alonso Solis again leveled the tie. In extra time, veteran Reynaldo Parks hooked home a free kick from the corner to again send Saprissa through in dramatic fashion, a year after they had similarly survived an extra-time battle with an MLS team (the Kansas City Wizards).
Here's Sampson's team in the second leg: Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Tyrone Marshall, Ugo Ihemelu, Nate Sturgis (103: Alan Gordon), Peter Vagenas, Marcelo Saragoza (66: Brian Dunseth), Cobi Jones (81: Ednaldo Da Conceicao), Josh Grarner, Herculez Gomez, Landon Donovan
Sampson called Josh Gardner "the brightest spot in preseason," and said the 23-year-old will likely start on the left side of midfield in the season opener. Gardner has made just three league appearances in his career - all in a substitute role, totaling less than 40 minutes.
"Josh, like Herculez (Gomez) last year, took advantage of the opportunity, seized the moment and is making the most of it," Sampson said to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. "If he works hard and continues to show and demonstrate that he belongs, he'll continue to get his opportunities. What's really important for him is to stay humble and understand what we're looking for and that's consistency."
Said Gardner to the Press-Telegram: "I want to play and work hard for L.A., and Steve knew that. He's given me a little freedom on the left side to go at people, and I think that was one of my strengths in college. The guys around me are encouraging me and building me up, and there's a lot less stress this year.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTIONThe Revolution have not played a preseason match in nearly two full weeks, since ending their preseason with a pair of matches in a return visit to Costa Rica. After a pair of draws against Costa Rica's under-21 national team (2-2) and with the reserve side of LD Alajuelense (1-1), the Revs lost to Primera Division side CS Herediano 4-2.
The Revolution's first trip to Costa Rica came as part of their entrance into the CONCACAF Champions Cup, which they earned as MLS Cup runner-up a year ago. Facing perennial Costa Rican power LD Alajuelense, the teams played to a scoreless draw in the first leg on Feb. 22 in a match played at the National Stadium in Hamilton, Bermuda, before LDA advanced through a dramatic 90th-minute goal in Alajuela on March 8.
Here's Steve Nicol's team in the scoreless first leg in Bermuda: Matthew Reis - Clint Dempsey, Daniel Hernandez, John Heaps, Joseph Franchino, Patrick Noonan (83: Ryan Latham), James Riley, Tony Lochhead, Taylor Twellman, Shalrie Joseph, Andrew Joseph, Andrew Dorman (75: Jose Cancela).
In the return match, the Revolution survived nearly the entire 90 minutes before a stunning free kick from Carlos Hernandez gave Alajuelense the only goal of the game and sent La Liga into the semifinals against Club América of Mexico.
Here's Nicol's team in the second leg: Matthew Reis - Clint Dempsey, Daniel Hernandez, John Heaps, Joseph Franchino, Steve Ralston (61: Jose Cancela), James Riley, Tony Lochhead, Taylor Twellman, Shalrie Joseph, Andy Dorman.
The Revolution will see the Galaxy receive their championship rings from the MLS Cup title won last year at New England's expense right in front of them on Saturday.
''They are going to pass out the rings in front of us, which is not classy," Clint Dempsey said to The Boston Globe. ''But, at the same time, they deserve the rings they are getting. We missed an opportunity to handle the business. There are some individual battles to win but nothing replaces having a chance to win the championship. We won't be satisfied until we get one of those [rings]."
Dempsey returned to training during the week followed a club-imposed suspension for a training ground fracas. With his return, Nicol showed a 3-5-2 scheme, after playing most of the preseason with a 4-4-2 system. Joe Franchino moved into the left midfield slot in front of defenders Jay Heaps, Daniel Hernandez, and James Riley and goalkeeper Doug Warren in training. Pat Noonan and Taylor Twellman were paired at forward and Steve Ralston was on the right wing, said the Globe.
The Revolution will be the last team to open their home season, playing their first three games on the road before their Gillette Stadium opener on April 30 v Chicago Fire.
The New England Revolution head into the rematch of the 2005 MLS Cup Final looking to reprise the quick start of a year ago, where they sealed all concerns over a late season playoff charge by taking over the top spot in the Eastern Conference by the end of the opening month and remaining there throughout the campaign.