Game #3 Preview: Philadelphia at Los Angeles

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

If Houston was tough, Los Angeles should be tougher. The Galaxy are coming off their worst defeat in recent memory and should be itching to make a statement. The Union will be their test case. Both teams are looking to jumpstart an impressive array of offensive threats (Angel, Donovan, Beckham vs. Mwanga, Ruiz, and Le Toux) but, and it seems surreal to say this, the Union head to Los Angeles with a firm defensive advantage. Can Mondragon and company hold the fort until the Union attack awakens or will the Galaxy, stunned by Real Salt Lake, return to 2010 form first?

Philadelphia Union (2-0-0) at Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-1)
Home Depot Center, Carson, CA, 10:30PM EST

Philadelphia’s Probable Starting XI

————————-Mondragon————————-

Williams———Califf————-Valdes———Harvey

——————-Miglioranzi——Carroll—————–

Le Toux—————-Nakazawa—————–Mwanga

——————————Ruiz——————————

QUESTIONABLE: MF Justin Mapp (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Carlos Valdes (R ankle sprain); DF Danny Califf (L knee meniscus)

Los Angeles’ Probable Starting XI

——————————Saunders—————————-

Franklin———DeLaGarza——–Leonardo——Dunivant

Beckham———-Birchall———-Juninho——–Donovan

———————-Barrett———–Angel———————

OUT: DF Gregg Berhalter (L knee MCL sprain); FW Adam Cristman (L knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Donovan Ricketts (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Omar Gonzalez (R shoulder sprain)

Notes:

There are a couple ways to look at Saturday’s game in Los Angeles. The Galaxy could either be down and out after a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Real Salt Lake or they could be ready to right the wrongs of a game that simply got out of their hands. Our guess, with guys like Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel leading the way, is that they’ll be amped. If the Union are going to avenge their 3-1 loss at the Home Depot Center they’ll have to continue and even improve upon their defensive strengths. Mondragon should really get tested this game so it’ll be interesting to really see him under fire.

It only took 53 seconds for AJ DeLaGarza to score the first goal in last year’s match-up. The Galaxy dealt with that same issue in last weekend’s loss to Real Salt Lake. Real Salt Lake was up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes and didn’t look back from there. One huge positive for the Union is that Edson Buddle, scorer of 3 goals out of 4 vs. the Union last season, was snapped up by Inglostadt in the German 2.Bundesliga. The bad news? Buddle was replaced by MLS veteran goalscorer Juan Pablo Angel. Chad Barrett is another addition for the Galaxy that could pose a problem. He’s well known for the amount of sitters he inexplicably misses but from time to time, he connects.

The Galaxy’s defense has looked subpar as of late and if Le Toux, Ruiz, and Mwanga can build upon their developing chemistry, they could break it again. Los Angeles, however, could get a defensive boost from the return of starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from injury. Josh Saunders has filled in well but Ricketts provides that “unbeatable” quality when he’s up for a game. Centerback Omar Gonzalez may still have to miss Saturday.

Piotr Nowak, in Wednesday’s press conference, named numerous players that could potentially be out or play a limited role in Saturday’s match-up. Justin Mapp is almost certainly out while other names in the walking wounded include defensive stalwarts Carlos Valdes and Danny Califf.

Right on the heels of Saturday’s game vs. Los Angeles is the first Open Cup qualifier vs. DC United at the Maryland SoccerPlex. One can expect on April 6th a blend of starters and reserve players as the Union look to get at least one step farther than last season in qualifying process. In 2010, Nowak used a mixed squad but the team failed to really show up in New York dropping a disappointing 2-1 loss.

Several Union starts spent signficant time with the Galaxy in the past – Carlos Ruiz had some of his best years with Los Angeles winning a MLS Cup alongside an impressive Danny Califf in 2002, Stefani Miglioranzi featured in the midfield at the dawn of the Beckham era. How about former Union players? If Donovan Ricketts isn’t ready to start and Josh Saunders continues in net, former third string Union keeper Brian Perk will most likely back him up.

It’s early but this is still nice to read – the Union are leading the Eastern Conference for the first time in club history, after having won back-to-back shutouts for the first time. Two Union players, Carlos Valdes and Brian Carroll, found their way onto ASN’s Best XI for Week Two. Not bad. Brian Carroll made Major League Soccer’s Best XI as well.

Two Union youngsters featured for US U-20 MNT earlier this week. Zac MacMath had a quiet game in net as the U-20s beat up on Suriname 4-0. Amobi Okugo started and picked up a yellow card. The Union will move on to play Panama in the final group match-up this Saturday at 6:00pm EST (therefore they will be missing this match as well).

In the Union Firsts Contest standings, E. Frysinger leads with FIVE points, Reaser is close behind with FOUR points, and several are in third with THREE points. 9/15 questions have been answered. They are vying for a $50 e-gift card to PhiladelphiaUnionStore.com.

In case you missed it, head over the Union’s website to check out the Pledge Program, “Union Fans Assist”.

Predict the Scoreline:

[polldaddy poll=4823931]

1 Comments For This Post

  1. LL Says:

    Im expecting a good game, from both sides. I feel like if we play the way we have been and if we get a few lucky plays we might walk away with a W but a tie would be good enough. Need to lock down the midfield and with mapp out that might be a tough thing for us to do! Go get um’ boys, DOOP.

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. The Philly Soccer Page » “This is a real test” Says:

    […] previews for Saturday’s game from American Soccer News and  Philly Union Talk. Our own match preview will be available after 11:30am […]

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