The two middle-of-the-pack teams face each other tonight in their only meeting this season. The Philadelphia Union are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 16 matches, while the LA Galaxy are tied for fourth in the Western Conference with a 5-5-7 record and 22 points from 17 matches. It wasn’t too long ago when a series of unfortunate injuries (some of which are still in effect) plagued LA, and now, after a difficult US Open Cup match against the Rochester Rhinos this past Tuesday, Philly finds itself in a similar situation.
Numerous players are working to return from injury, and thus Curtin is out in LA now with a limited squad. Missing from Philadelphia’s lineup are Sebastian Le Toux (MCL sprain), Fernando Aristeguieta (a left fibula contusion), Conor Casey (left quad strain). Which basically means that C.J. Sapong is left as the Union’s only true forward. Add to the list of missing from action: Steven Vitoria (family wedding this weekend), and Michael Lahoud (undisclosed setback), and Philadelphia will end up relying on a rotation of Sheanon Williams (a true reliable veteran fullback), Ray Gaddis (a regular starter) and Fabinho over the next stretch of matches. Midfielder Brian Carroll is also a likely starter for tonight’s match.
“Obviously it’s a tough stretch and it’s a stretch that I thought we’d be getting a lot of bodies back healthy,” Curtin said Thursday, shortly before the team departed for Los Angeles. “But it turns out that’s not the case.”
With such a dwindling lineup, and being at a precarious position in the standings, Philadelphia will have to outsmart a recovering LA Galaxy roster who are also eager to redeem their stature as defending MLS Champs.
History favors LA. A home field advantage favors LA. And the return of Robbie Keane, A.J. DeLaGarza and Robbie Rogers favors LA. Moreover, the end of international duty season (and recovery period afterwards) and the end of the season’s injury spell favors the hosts tonight. Meanwhile, Coach Bruce Arena used that time to grow a younger roster into more mature, experienced and confident players.
A.J. DeLaGarza helped Guam win two crucial World Cup Qualifiers and importantly, returned injury-free and is ready to contribute to the Galaxy’s squad.
LA Galaxy earned a decided 6-1 victory against PSA Elite Wednesday night at StubHub Center in the U.S. Open Cup’s Fourth round with a hat trick from Robbie Keane and goals from Gyasi Zardes and Baggio Husidic and Sebastian Lletget. Expect big things from these four again tonight.
The Galaxy have four of their next five league matches at home. It’s the perfect time for a storybook new beginning as they look to skyrocket to the top again. And, with the added bonus of a Steven Gerrard entrance within the month, this story arc is likely already written in the stars.
Tonight, things are looking bright for LA but if the Union play conservatively and intelligently, they could stifle LA’s attack. My prediction: Because I’ve seen C.J. thrive under pressure, (and because technically, they are my home team), I give him a goal tonight. LA: 2, Philly: 1.
The only unfortunate news I have is that it’s Saturday and we get no National TV coverage…
|LA Galaxy vs Philadelphia
10:30 PM ET
* Look forward to a fun co-authored game recap from me and Adriana later tonight! (well, if you’re on the West Coast).