Our first game against last season's real champions* comes in just a few hours... I'm so excited! As many of you know, Ive had ties with the Los Angeles Galaxy over the years they've been in MLS. Basically, since I was raised in LA, I adopted the Galaxy as my MLS team while the Portland Timbers fought on in the USL/USSF D2 minor leagues. This year my loyalties lie 100% with Portland, but this game still holds a special place in my heart just based on the fact.
I hope some of you read my in depth preview of the Los Angeles Galaxy. For those that followed the league last year you'll remember that Los Angeles won the Supporters Shield trophy for best overall season performance. This easily makes Los Angeles one of the more dangerous opponents as it shows, above all else, that the team is consistent in their winning.While they've had a rocky 2011 season start, I fully expect them to carry on some semblance of last year's victories.
Let's get to the nitty gritty details.
Assessing Our Team
No surprises here, I fully expect head coach John Spencer to throw in the starting eleven players who won our last two games. I know everybody wants to give Darlington Nagbe and Sal Zizzo a real shot (i.e. not subbed) at a decent game, but, in soccer, you don't mess with success. Khalif Alhassan, especially, has been amazing over our last two games. Taking him out with be a detriment to our play on the field even if it's for our overall #2 SuperDraft pick, Darlington Nagbe.
The big news here is who will be in our goal for this game. While Jake Gleeson has been phenomenal, we could very well see the emergence of Troy Perkins between the posts tonight. Let's face it, while we won our last two games, they weren't flawless victories. While the defense is responsible as well, one of the goals FC Dallas acquired last Sunday seemed particularly soft to me (although it could have been a deflection). Still Jake Gleeson did win save of the week making it two times this season... tough call. UPDATED: Troy Perkins is in!
Here's my projected starting line up:
Jake Gleeson Troy Perkins; Rodney Wallace, Futty Danso, Eric Brunner, Steve Purdy; Khalif Alhassan, James Marcelin, Jack Jewsbury, Jeremy Hall; Jorge Perlaza, Kenny Cooper
The big question tonight is whether our newly signed Designated Player, Diego Chara, will see minutes during this game. Supposedly he met up with the team in Southern California, but will have little, if any, training time with the rest of the team. Personally, I would hold him off until next week unless we get a solid enough lead in the game to allow such a chance. We'll see...
Assessing the Enemy
I already wrote up my in depth preview earlier this morning. You should check it out if you want all the details regarding the Los Angeles Galaxy tonight.
The biggest question regarding the Galaxy tonight is if any of their Designated Players show up: Landon Donovan, David Beckham, or Juan Pablo Angel. None are listed as suspended and only Landon Donovan is questionable with a continued knee inflammation. While it would be fun to see our guys match up against the star studded trio, I think I'll hope they don't make an appearance tonight as it will only make the game more difficult for us.
Moving on, the biggest threat to our game tonight is, arguably, Los Angeles' backline. This is not a shaky backline, even with a recent injury to Leonardo, their go to center back. Los Angeles won last year based on their defense and I expect it to be as strong this year. The combination of Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant on the left should make it particularly challenging for Kenny Cooper and Jeremy Hall.
I'm not terribly hopeful for a win tonight, to be perfectly honest. Los Angeles doesn't play like the Chicago Fire or FC Dallas. They're skilled not only at the game itself, but the mentality of the game. Should they secure a single goal, they'll go into a shell and eke out a win. That's how they played last year and that's how they'll play this year. It's a tried and true formula that they understand very well. I think if we can leave the Home Depot Center tonight with a point it'll be considered a 'win.' At least to me... not to say three points wouldn't be fantastic either though.
Tonight's game is on at 8:00 PM PT on Fox Soccer Channel.
*I consider the winner of the Supporters Shield to be the true champions of the league as it shows the most consistency. Winning a tournament contains a bit more luck than anything else.