GALAXY: Must-win, with or without Donovan
October, 18, 2011
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillLandon Donovan's status for Thursday's Champions League game in Honduras will be a game-time decision.
CARSON -- The Galaxy now know what's needed in Honduras: a victory.
What they don't know is whether they'll have their captain for Thursday's CONCACAF Champions League group finale against Motagua.
Landon Donovan, nursing a quadriceps injury suffered Oct. 1 against Real Salt Lake, said Tuesday he wasn't sure he'll be ready to go in the Group A clash, which will determine whether the Galaxy moves on to next year's quarterfinals or exits the competition.
“We'll determine [if I'm playing] on Thursday,” said Donovan, who spent Tuesday's practice session in the trainer's room. “We'll just play it day by day and see what we get to Thursday. ... The body's weird. Sometimes you heal quickly, sometimes you don't. I have every intention of playing, but if I'm not ready, I'm not ready.”
The Galaxy is in must-win territory again after Morelia's 2-1 comeback win Tuesday night over Costa Rican champion Alajuelense in the other Group A finale. Morelia, from Mexico, qualified for the knockout stage with the result, captured on goals three minutes apart early in the second half by Joao Rojas and Miguel Sabah.
It wasn't unexpected. The Galaxy, which with different results might have required no more than a tie or even a tight defeat, had figured all along they could triumph only with a triumph.
“We need to get a result,” David Beckham said before Morelia's victory. “It's going to be a tough place to go and win, but it's a must. We have to go there and win.”
Morelia and Alajuela are 4-2-0 with 12 points. The Galaxy (3-2-0) would pull even with a victory but finish atop the group with better goal difference (plus-1) in matches among the three. Morelia (even) beats Alajuelense (minus-1) in the same tiebreaker. (Alajuela will advance if L.A. fails to win.)
The key result in all this was the Galaxy's 2-0 victory Aug. 25 at Home Depot Center over Alajuela, on goals by Omar Gonzalez and Chad Barrett. The home team won every other meeting among the trio by one goal.
The Galaxy will be without injured Irish forward Robbie Keane and midfielder/defender Sean Franklin, and Donovan's absence would be sizable. He missed the Galaxy's games Oct. 4 at New York and Sunday against Chivas USA and pulled out of the U.S. national team's friendlies Oct. 8 against Honduras and Oct. 11 against Ecuador.
Donovan, 29, acknowledged the injury has taken longer to heal than he'd anticipated.
“Sometimes this time of the year, and sometimes as you get older, it takes longer than expected,” he said. “We certainly didn't want to push it Sunday [against Chivas]. We're just giving it as much time as it needs to rest. There's no need to injure myself worse and potentially miss the playoffs.
“Obviously, Thursday is a big game, but we've got at least two more big games after that.”
Donovan says he and the training staff have been doing “everything possible, throwing the book at it” to get his ailing right quad ready, and he'll be taking precautions during Wednesday's flight to San Salvador and on to Tegucigalpa. If he can't start, there's a good chance he'll be on the 18-man game roster -- just in case.
“That's my hope for now,” he said. “Unless something crazy happens, I would expect that I'm going to be keep improving over the next few days and be able to contribute in some way. If I can start the game, I want to start the game. If not, I want to be able to contribute in some way.”
WORTH NOTING: Paris Saint-Germain's pursuit of Beckham isn't all about what he can do on the field, of course, and Britain's Daily Mail reports that the club's Qatari owners want the midfielder to help them promote Al Jazeera Sports, their television network, which will broadcast French Ligue 1 games beginning next year. Beckham is quoted in the Daily Telegraph as ready to remain in L.A. “I love it here, and there is a real chance I will stay, especially if my family are happy.” ... A Singapore-based promoter told The Times of India that negotiations are at an advanced state for two Galaxy games before their Dec. 6 friendly in Melbourne. The promoter, who was not identified, said the Galaxy would play in Jakarta, Indonesia, in late November and in Singapore on Dec. 1, 2 or 3. “We're just sorting out sponsors,” she said. “It's about 80 percent [confirmed].” No opponents were mentioned. ... Toronto FC became the second Major League Soccer club, after the Seattle Sounders, to qualify for the CCL quarterfinals with a 3-0 romp at FC Dallas in a Group C finale. ... Defending champion Monterrey is the third Mexican club to qualify, after Santos Laguna and Morelia, winning Group D with a 2-1 victory Tuesday in Seattle.
1. Morelia (Mexico) 4-2-0 (11-5) 12 points
2. Alajuelense (Costa Rica) 4-2-0 (8-6) 12
3. Galaxy 3-2-0 (7-4) 9
4. Motagua (Honduras) 0-5-0 (2-13) 0