After a stirring 3-2 win at Portland over the holiday weekend, D.C. United conclude their brief West Coast swing with a Friday night special against the hottest team in MLS. In their last five matches, the Los Angeles Galaxy have taken 13 points of a possible 15, but the hosts will be without star midfielder Landon Donovan and first-choice goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts in this one.
D.C. United (4-4-3) at Los Angeles Galaxy (8-2-5)
Time: 11:00 p.m., Friday, June 3.
Place: Home Depot Center, Carson, California.
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Team News and Tactics
D.C. United: As it turned out, United got off lightly when it came to Gold Cup losses, with only Dejan Jakovic being called away from club duty to join the Canadians (unfortunately, he seems to have done himself a fairly serious injury this week). However, the injury news is by and large positive for United. Charlie Davies' hamstring injury has been upgraded to probable during the week (he's likely to come off the bench as a substitute tonight), while Dax McCarty (groin) has also been upgraded to probable. Whether McCarty starts or comes on as a substitute, it will be at the expense of Stephen King, who went the full 90 in McCarty's place Sunday.
Ben Olsen will face a more interesting problem when deciding how to structure his defense in the absence of Jakovic, Marc Burch (hamstring), and Jed Zayner (hamstring). The obvious move would seem to be restoring Perry Kitchen to his customary center-back position alongside Ethan White and bringing Chris Korb back into the fold at right back, even though the rookie hasn't played since the 4-0 home loss to New York on April 21. Rodrigo Brasesco would be another option, but he hasn't seen action since the 4-1 road loss to Colorado April 3.
L.A. Galaxy: As mentioned at the top, the two Donovans (Landon and Ricketts) have left to join their respective national teams (America and Jamaica, respectively). Coincidentally, Donovan also missed the first match-up of the season between these two teams, which ended in a 1-1 draw on April 9 (he was recovering from knee inflammation at the time). Josh Saunders will slide into the starting goalkeeper's spot in place of Ricketts, and it looks likely that either Michael Stephens or Chris Birchall will partner David Beckham, Juninho, and Mike Magee in midfield to replace Donovan. Up front, look for Chad Barrett to lead the line for the Galaxy along with either Paolo Cardozo or Barrett. Sean Franklin will line up in defense in place of Leonardo, who played the full 90 minutes at RFK in April and is recovering from knee surgery.
Key to the Game
Be Patient--They may play in L.A. and have MLS' biggest star, but the Galaxy are hardly American soccer's version of Showtime. They've won three straight matches by 1-0 scorelines and have gone 321 minutes without conceding a goal. As against Portland, the onus will be on United to play their game and not get frustrated if things don't go their way early on against Los Angeles' stingy defense.
Miscellaneous Bonus Facts
Todd Dunivant is the only Galaxy player to have played every minute of every game this season.
D.C. United has not defeated Los Angeles at the Home Depot Center since 2005.