CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Mike Magee #18 of the Los Angeles Galaxy scores the Galaxy's second goal as he heads it in front of Robbie Russell #3 of Real Salt Lake in the MLS Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center on November 6, 2011 in Carson, California. The Galaxy won 3-1 to advance to the MLS Cup. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Real Salt Lake are in town, after the two teams met in the Western Conference Final last season.
The LA Galaxy have already played a competitive game in 2012, just three days ago, but tonight they'll kick off their MLS campaign against Real Salt Lake; the team they beat in the Western Conference final to advance to the MLS Cup. The Galaxy won that Western Conference Final 3-1 at the Home Depot Center. The two clubs split their season series last year, each winning on their home ground.
The LA attack was quite potent last year with Landon Donovan (12 goals), David Beckham (15 assists), and Robbie Keane (three goals after joining LA). Now things have picked up even more with the return of Edson Buddle, who scored 17 goals for the LA Galaxy in 2010 before heading to Germany for a year long stint.
For Real Salt Lake, Javier Morales may have been rushed back after a serious leg injury last year and didn't look 100% in the Western Conference Final. He's had a whole offseason to recuperate, but RSL might keep him out of this match to ensure his health the rest of the season. He played just 10 games in 2011 after suffering a fractured leg in May.
When asked how the lineup will change from Wednesday to Saturday, Bruce Arena said "it'll be different. I don't know how different at this point." On Wednesday, the Galaxy started an essentially ideal lineup against Toronto FC in the Champions League, with two exceptions. Tommy Meyer, first round draft pick, practiced with the first team all offseason but did not play; and new acquisition Marcelo Sarvas was cup tied. Couple that was a less than 100% Landon Donovan, and there is sure to be some lineup shuffling.
It's a rough way to begin a season, playing three games in eight days. Especially considering the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC got the weekend off. It'd be one thing if MLS was trying to show off it's champion on national TV, but tonight's match is only a local broadcast. Still David Beckham's not worried.
"It takes time to recover from playing on [that surface], and travel, but we had a day to rest yesterday and then today. We're getting there."
Bruce Arena remarked that yesterday was the first day the whole team had been together since the 2012 season preparations began. Robbie Keane just got back from his loan a week ago, and not everyone traveled with the team to Toronto. Still, despite not practicing together Keane and Buddle showed some real potential together. How much one can read into that given the surface they were playing on is up for debate, but it looks like this group of professionals should be able to pick up right where they left off.