The Home Depot Center, 8 p.m. PT; ESPN2
It's gonna be a heavyweight fight. It's gonna be a battle of titans going at it like gladiators. The left hand of god is coming down to do battle with the right hand of god.
I just wanted to get in the first hyperboles.
It's the Los Angeles Galaxy (15-5-5, 50 pts.). It's the New York Red Bulls (12-8-5, 41 pts).
And so here we are. Friday night, national television, David Beckham, Juan Pablo Angel, Landon Donovan, an injured Thierry Henry, all the stars come out to play. Heck, we might even see Tom Cruise, Kobe Bryant, you never know where the circus can go.
"All of these games, the last five games are very important," Arena said. "We have a lot of goals in mind. In order to accomplish them we’re going to have to secure points at home. Friday night is very important. Our goal is to win the Supporters' Shield and also to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. In order to do that, we have to win each and every game."
The first edition of this matchup was stellar, with LA pulling out a 1-0 victory on an Edson Buddle goal off a Juninho assist. Juninho picked off a Raphael Marquez pass at midfield, which brought up questions about Marquez' adjustment to the MLS style of play. With the Galaxy on an upswing (2-0-1 in their last three matches) and the Red Bulls on a tear (3-1-1 in their last five) two well oiled machines are going to go at it tonight.
Landon Donovan has scored two goals and had three assists during this three day stretch, taking part of five of the Galaxy's six goals scored.
"I want to make sure we finish top of the league and I want to win the MVP again and I wanted to make a statement," Donovan said.
Said David Beckham:
"When you’ve got someone like Landon who has that pace that can capitalize on mistakes teams make, you need that."
LA will be missing a key piece in Omar Gonzalez, who picked up a yellow card suspension last match. Of course, New York will be without Thierry Henry who has a right knee MCL strain. For the future physicians out there, MCL is the Medial Collateral Ligament, one of the four major ligaments in the knee. Medial refers to the midline of the body so medial muscles are inner, collateral in a medical sense means parallel. American Football players are prone to this injury, for the same reason soccer players are vulnerable, the grip of the cleats on the grass.
Rafael Marquez will start, but he won't see more than 60 minutes as fatigue has become a factor of him.
How many minutes Beckham will get is debatable. He came in last game just after half time, which Bruce Arena said was planned. Starting seems out of the question, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him coming in around the 40' mark. I won't go to far into the nature of Achilles injuries, but since I haven't touched on it yet it's worth mentioning that the injury results from explosive acceleration, pushing off and the like, which is why Beckham may appear sluggish on the pitch, he won't be able to accelerate from standing position until that tendon is fully healed, and he's got doctors in his ear about the condition of said tendon every day.
I'll spare you the side note about Achilles and why he lends his name to a body part. I'm gonna assume most people know that story.
Juninho is on the same warning Omar Gonzalez was last game, he adds a lot for the Galaxy in the middle, so he'll need to be careful avoiding a yellow card, as he's had to be for a few games now.
The Galaxy's midseason win over the Red Bulls broke a tie in the all time series. The Galaxy have won the last three meetings between them and New York, for the first time since the Red Bulls were the Metro Stars in the MLS inaugural season.
Had Henry not gone down with an injury, it would have been the 12th time these two superstars faced each other. Five times in the premier league (when Beckham was with Man U and Henry with Chelsea) and four in the European cup. They also met twice at the international level, going back to 1998. Henry scored five goals in those matchups, with Beckham not scoring any.