CARSON, Calif. — Facing a Colorado Rapids team at their place, a mile high in the suburbs of Denver, always makes for a challenging prospect. This Saturday (9 pm ET, MatchDay Live), though, the challenges have increased significantly.
Landon Donovan and Donovan Ricketts will miss their third consecutive game as they get ready for a Gold Cup showdown, while David Beckham sat out practice on Thursday. Juan Pablo Ángel is trying to overcome a calf injury and the entire squad is trying to get past a troubling result against Toronto FC from last weekend the weekend.
Everything combined will make for a rather complicated situation.
“We’re expecting probably one of the toughest games of the season,” Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall said.
Perhaps the most pressing concern is Beckham’s health situation. After the Galaxy’s difficult 2-2 draw against Toronto FC, Beckham traveled to London to help promote the 2012 Olympics and is battling back spasms he said kept him in bed for most of the day Wednesday and he sat out Thursday’s training session.
“It’s not ideal to be flying over there on the other side of the world,” Beckham said. “Physically it doesn’t really affect me as long as I look after myself, I get my training in, get my massage in and get my rest. It’s not affected me for a while.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said he hoped to have Beckham available on Saturday.
With or without Beckham, however, the squad will not be at full strength. Ricketts and Donovan will play against one another in a Gold Cup quarterfinal on Sunday. LA welcomed back Juninho, though, as he returned from his weekend absence following his wedding in São Paulo, Brazil.
Perhaps the biggest thing the team needs to get back, though, is their confidence.
“The last two games have been frustrating because a) [we’ve] been at home and b) we’ve not played as well as we can,” Beckham said. “We have to put that right.”
The Galaxy will enter Colorado riding an eight-game unbeaten streak, but the draws against D.C. United and TFC left a lot of lingering questions. Trying to turn their draws into a victory against the defending MLS Cup champions will be difficult.
“They’re one of those teams that, on their day, they can beat anyone,” Birchall said. “You see it in this league that teams are slipping up against anyone. We’re doing the same. Luckily we’re not losing games but we’re dropping points.”
Perhaps the biggest threat Colorado possess is forward Conor Casey. With Casey in the lineup at the start of the season, the Rapids won their first three games. He injured his hamstring in the third match, though, and the club promptly lost three consecutive matches.
Since his return, the Rapids have gone 1-0-5 and overall the club has yet to lose when Casey plays. The big, bruising striker personifies the entire Rapids squad, say Galaxy players.
“He’s strong, physical and everybody knows what to expect from him,” Ángel said. “We have to be ready for a physical battle. Colorado as a team is a very solid unit and it’s going to be a hard game like always.”