Categorized | Game Previews

Badilla to debut against Galaxy

Posted on 29 August 2008 by L.E. Eisenmenger

Saturday night, the New England Revolution host the LA Galaxy and debut Gabriel Badilla, their new Costa Rican defender who just arrived Thursday night. Badilla launches his Major League Soccer career in one of the Revolution’s highest profile games of the year, but coach Steve Nicol thinks it appropriate. “I think if he had choice to play in a first game, it would be in a big game,” the former Liverpool man said of his newest signing.

Nicol noted that the entrance of a new player on the squad has wider benefits. “Whenever a new face comes in, everybody perks up,” said Nicol. “Everyone wants to look good … It keeps everybody on their toes, but the players are just happy to get good players amongst them.”

The Revolution have already sold over 35,000 tickets for the Galaxy show that spotlights strikers David Beckham and Landon Donovan, and now former U.S. national and Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena. The Galaxy have earned a 6-9-6 record by scoring 40 goals, the most in the league, but allowing 43, also the record. New England, which recently slid to second in the Eastern Conference has scored 29 goals from a variety of strikers (Steve Ralston and Adam Cristman leading with six each), but allowed 27. New England has the more complete team, with a backbone of Shalrie Joseph and Jeff Larentowicz, and defenders Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, and Chris Albright, who the Galaxy traded last winter for cash.

“It’s going to be tough,” said Jay Heaps, on shutting down the Galaxy’s notorious strikers. “The two of them [Donovan and Beckham] are the two best players in the league right now, in terms of what they can add. At any time they strike from all angles, and they’ve got Eddie Lewis, so it’s important for us to contain them, keep them in their half, and if they spring on us we have to have guys in position to cover all over the place.”

New England is coming off a 2-1 loss to Joe Public FC in the preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. After enduring connecting international flights, travel fatigue is the team’s biggest handicap, but they’ll also likely sideline Matt Reis, Chris Albright, Kheli Dube, and Adam Cristman with injuries.

“Obviously, we’ll have a big crowd and that motivates players, whatever team you’re on,” noted Nicol. “[The Galaxy will] certainly be motivated to do well against us. They obviously think they’ll have an advantage with the fact that we played mid-week and we did travel, but it’s up to us to combat that by passing the ball well, being ready to start when the whistle blows and concentrate on getting the job done.”

“I never liked Steve [Nicol] as a kid,” said a smiling David Beckham, “because he played for Liverpool. So it was nice, obviously, to be coached by him [in the All-Stars.] I’ve heard really good things about him, but when he was a player, like I said, I didn’t like him because I was a Man United fan. It’s going to be nice to see him again tomorrow. He’s a very good coach, he’s done great here.”

Having lost his first game heading the Galaxy, this match is important to Bruce Arena. “We’re going to do the best we can to try and make the playoffs,” said Arena. “Certainly, if you’re any kind of mathematician, it would look like our best chance is to finish third in the West as opposed to earning one of the last two spots. At the moment we’re two points out.”

Beckham acknowledged that with the losing streak and staffing turnover, the Galaxy is going through a bad time. “You have to stay confident and you have to keep the players up for the fight and up for playing games because when you do go through a tough time, it’s all about sticking together as a team.”

TV38, Saturday, August 30, 7:30 PM: LA Galaxy @ New England Revolution

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