TV: Fox Sports West 9:30 p.m. PT (tape delay)
The Home Depot Center, Carson, CA -- As of this writing, Major League Soccer has three teams at the top of the table, each with 44 points, after the Seattle Sounders played Real Salt Lake to a nil nil tie. This of course makes Saturday's meeting between the Los Angeles Galaxy (13-5-5) and Columbus Crew (13-5-5) a battle for the Supporters’ Shield, as whatever result will put one or two teams ahead of Real Salt Lake in this year long double round robin tournament. The Galaxy have given up a double digit lead on the rest of the table.
The big news from the Galaxy camp this week was that David Beckham has been taken off the Injured Reserve list. He might make it to the bench roster for Saturday, but shouldn't see more than ten minutes or so at the end. Gregg Berhalter is still listed as questionable. The Crew are without Men's national team member Robbie Rogers, the 23 year old from Rancho Palos Verdes in the South Bay didn't make the World Cup cut, but has been in 12 international games since 2009 and has 1 international goal.
The Galaxy took the last meeting between the two teams, a 2-0 victory in Columbus on June 5th, a victory which was just the second all time in Columbus for the Galaxy. The Crew lead the all time series 15 wins to 10, and have won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the two teams. In their last six trips to the Home Depot Center the Crew are 2-4-0.
The Galaxy were without Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle when these two teams last met, as they were off training for South Africa and the World Cup. The Galaxy got an early goal from Michael Stephens, and then a capper from Tristan Bowen on an empty net.
The Galaxy's winless streak has stretched to 3 games, needing a stoppage time goal from Omar Gonzalez off a Landon Donovan corner just to pull even with Chicago last week. This despite the Fire playing from the 21' on a man down. Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson blocked Landon Donovan's penalty kick, and then was brilliant as the Galaxy sent a barrage of shots at him in the early going of the second half. Though it was encouraging to see the Galaxy break their trend of giving up goals in the first 15 minutes, ultimately they continued the trend of being winless when giving up the first goal, and of giving up goals against the flow of play late in the game. Chicago's goal came off a free kick in the 85', which may have been the result of poor positioning by keeper Donovan Ricketts. Once leading the league in Goals Against Average, Rickets is now third in that statistic, behind Kevin Hartman of FC Dallas and Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake.
"It’s disappointing to let other teams close the gap," Donovan said. "I guess we’re fortunate in that Real Salt Lake and Columbus have other games to play for the last part of the season, but we’re not playing well enough right now to win it."
The Columbus Crew meanwhile have closed an 11 point gap which used to exist between them and the Galaxy.
"I’m not chasing LA," Warzycha said. "I’m not chasing anybody. We’re trying to win the games and get some points." Said goalkeeper William Hesmer: "They seemed to be so far ahead of everybody the whole year, so we didn’t worry much about anybody else."
They've looked good in doing it, most recently beating D.C. United twice in four days, once in US Open Cup play and a second time in a league match. The game had only one goal, a strange play 23' saw D.C. keeper miss the kick on a ball played back to him, not touching the ball and Guiellermo Schellotto was three to tap in the loose ball.