GALAXY: Who will rest vs. Seattle?
CARSON -- The Galaxy play the second of three games in eight days Wednesday night at Seattle -- a showdown of two of Major League Soccer's most competitive organizations (Real Salt Lake being the third) -- and head coach Bruce Arena, wary of overuse (and CenturyLink Field's artificial surface) is likely to rotate his lineup.
Among the missing could be David Beckham, who doesn't do well on the fake stuff and rarely plays all three matches in these type of spans, and Robbie Keane. Neither trained Monday, with Arena saying he was “just giving them an opportunity to rest a few nagging injuries.”
Captain Landon Donovan expects there to be some changes.
“Given Bruce's history, yeah,” he said. “But you never know. Sometimes you just push through and play guys. It's early in the season, so there's still a lot of energy, but we'll see.”
The Galaxy has plenty of experience playing three in eight or three or nine. They did so seven or eight or nine times last year, depending on how you keep count -- they had 10 games in 29 days during September into October -- and went 11-6-4 in these games, a few CONCACAF Champions League group contests included.
They opened this season with three in eight days, losing their Champions League quarterfinal series to Toronto FC and MLS opener to Real Salt Lake, and Arena afterward acknowledged it would have been smarter to rotate his lineup after using virtually the same group for all three.
Sigi Schmid is dealing with similar concerns for Seattle. The Sounders are playing their second of five games in 15 days.
The turf is a concern, although it's new turf, installed during the offseason to replace one of the league most-hated surfaces. “I haven't heard anything,” said forward Pat Noonan, who spent the past two seasons with the Sounders, “but I know it can't be worse than last year. It was beaten pretty good last year. I'm sure it's an upgrade.”
Artificial turf is artificial turf, Arena says.
“At the end of the day, they're all the same,” he said. “They look real good when they put them down, they beat them up a few times, they have concert or a tractor pull or whatever you call those things. And then they're all the same.”
The bigger issue could be the unbalanced schedule, which has made more vital the matches against Western Conference opponents. Perhaps Arena uses his first-choice group against Seattle, then rests some regulars for Saturday's showdown at Home Depot Center against injury-riddled New York.
“We've been aware of the fact that we have three games in eight days for a while,” he said, “so we've been planning for that, and we'll make some adjustment to our team for Wednesday.”
Does Arena know whom he plans to rotate?
“I probably do,” he said. “I'm not gonna tell you.”
HENRY SHOCK: Thierry Henry's hamstring injury, sustained in New York's 1-0 victory over New England, will keep him out of Saturday's match, but Beckham wasn't aware of that when he met with the media after the Galaxy's 1-1 draw with FC Dallas.
Asked about Henry, Beckham started: “Looking forward to him coming here.”
Did you see what happened to him today? “No, I didn't.”
Fed the details -- that Henry went down, needed to be helped off the field, has what has preliminarily been described as a strain (but is potentially worse), and that Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said he'd be out 3-4 weeks -- Beckham responded: “Oh my god, really? I didn't know that. That's a shame. Thierry is obviously not just a good friend of mine, but a great player and a player I'm sure all of the L.A. fans would have liked to have seen come here and play. That's disappointing, but it's down to his health now.”
Donovan was watching the Red Bulls game on television when Henry went down.
“That was hard to watch,” he said. “You don't want to speculate, but when you see a guy go down in that way but then not be able to walk under his own power -- usually, when you have a muscle strain, you can walk pretty OK. That was hard to watch. We're all kind of hoping for the best.”
WORTH NOTING: Midfielder Chris Birchall, still without a team after the Galaxy cut ties during the offseason, appears on the verge of returning to MLS. “Very hopeful that my deal back to @MLS will happen in the next few days!!” he tweeted Friday. “My times at @LAGalaxy were the best but time for a new challenge!!” On Monday, in answer to a Twitter follower's question, he tweeted: “A new club is found. Should be completed today in MLS.” And, in response to another question: “I can confirm its not Chivas!!” The Galaxy has one open roster spot, but it will disappear when Leonardo comes off the disabled list. ... Center back A.J. DeLaGarza, on similarities and differences between No. 1 goalkeeper Josh Saunders and Bill Gaudette, who played Saturday (and likely will feature again Wednesday) while Saunders is away from the team dealing with a personal matter: “They look alike, little bald-headed guys. Bill's a little bit more vocal [on the field]. He likes to talk.” “Little”? It should be noted that DeLaGarza is 5-foot-9, 150 pounds. Gaudette is 6-2, 205, and Saunders is 6-4, 210. ... Donovan, on the importance of the games against fellow Western teams as he addressed Saturday's draw with Dallas, claimed with Noonan's stoppage-time goal: “The way the league is structured [with the unbalanced schedule] this year, these Western Conference games are really important, so, yeah, we only get a point and move up a point in the standings, but we keep Dallas from getting two more [points]. That's really important and might be very meaningful later in the year.”