The Galaxy will want to show their home supporters they've put last week's disaster at Real Salt Lake behind them, and David Beckham believes they will when they take on surprise Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia on Saturday night at Home Depot Center.
L.A. (1-1-1) is coming off a 4-1 defeat at RSL that could have, and probably should have, been far worse. L.A. was down, 2-0, by the 10th minute, had surrendered a third before halftime and never provided any real competition for their Western Conference rival. Beckham called it “humiliating” and “kind of embarrassing.”
“It was a bad game for us,” he said. “I don't think there's an huge separation between our two teams. Obviously, Salt Lake, they're a very good soccer team. They play the ball around well, they work well together, they've got that unity. And we've got all those attributes, but on the day we just didn't perform.
“We turned up and it was a little bit windy, little bit cold, and we wasn't ready to just go at it. That's one of the things we can't have happen. If you're not ready for a fight, not ready to play, you're going to get walked over. And we did. Simple as that.”
The Galaxy hopes to be closer to full strength against the Union. Landon Donovan is back from U.S. national team duty, and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and center back Omar Gonzalez have been participating more fully in training and might be considered for starting roles.
More important for the Galaxy is to start the game with better concentration. They gave up a goal to New England just 2 minutes, 32 seconds into their home opener, a 1-1 draw; RSL needed only 1:15 to score.
“Obviously, the players are well aware in the last two games, obviously, that we can't concede early and we have to be smart at the beginning of games, and it wasn't accomplished,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “But it will get accomplished this week. I'm pretty sure of that.”
Arena said it's been a good week in training “in terms of getting some things corrected. Beckham agreed.
“The first couple of days [in training this week] were about getting our heads right and getting ourselves back in the game, because I think there were many things that were wrong, wrong in that Salt Lake game,” Beckham said. “The biggest things were our attitudes and our start of the game. That can only be changed on game day, but the work rate this week has been important.
“We've worked hard, we've been at each other. We know we have to pick it up. If we don't, we're going to end up losing a lot more games like that.”
INJURY LIST: Forward Adam Cristman (knee surgery) is on the disabled list, and defender Gregg Berhalter (sprained knee) also is out. No. 1 goalkeeper Ricketts (hamstring strain) remains questionable, and Gonzalez (sprained shoulder) is again listed as probable, but we'll see.
Former Polish national-teamer Peter Nowak arrived in the U.S. to lead the Chicago Fire to the MLS Cup title in 1998 as a first-year club, and he went into coaching in 2004, winning another MLS Cup crown as a rookie boss with D.C. United. He was Bob Bradley's top assistant with the U.S. national team and the U.S. U-23/Olympic team head coach in 2007-09, departing to take charge of the expansion Union.
Three key players
French midfielder Sebastien Le Toux has exquisite touch and vision, and he scores and creates for others goals of stunning quality.
Galaxy fans know well Guatemalan forward Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz, who netted 61 of his 99 MLS goals (83 regular season, 16 playoffs) for the Galaxy, 32 of those (24 RS, 8 playoffs) en route to MVP honors while leading L.A. to the 2002 MLS Cup title.
Brian Carroll, who arrived during the offseason from Columbus, is a heady holding midfielder who played a pivotal role in the Crew's 2008 MLS Cup and two Supporters' Shield title campaigns.
The Union are on the rise -- they're atop the Eastern Conference standings with shutout wins in their first two games -- but would anything less be expected under Nowak, the only man to win MLS Cup titles as captain and coach? There's been a lot of turnover heading into year two, but key men return up front (Le Toux, especially) and in the back (captain Danny Califf, whose goal upset Houston in the opener), and the talent level around them has grown with additions of, among others, Ruiz (scored the lone goal in last week's win over Vancouver) and Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, defender Carlos Valdes and midfielder Roger Torres.
Califf (Orange) played at Orange High School and started 113 league games (and won an MLS Cup) with the Galaxy from 2000 to 2004. … Defender Jordan Harvey (Mission Viejo) was a Gatorade National Player of the Year at Capistrano Valley High School and starred at UCLA. He played for Orange County Blue Star in the Premier Development League. … Midfielder Kyle Nakazawa (Palos Verdes Estates) played at Peninsula High School, for Irvine Strikers and at UCLA. … Midfielder Amobi Okugo played one year at UCLA before turning pro. … Twin brothers Michael and Gabriel Farfan (Wildomar) spent some time at Cal State Fullerton. … Ruiz was with the Galaxy in 2002-04 and 2008. … Midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi started 20 games for the Galaxy in 2009.
Two youngsters -- rookie goalkeeper Zac MacMath and second-year midfielder Okugo -- are with the U.S. under-20 team at CONCACAF's championship in Guatemala. ... Three players are on the injury list: midfielder Justin Mapp (hamstring strain) is questionable, and defenders Califf (left meniscus) and Valdes (sprained ankle) are probable.
At Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: K-Talk (KTLK/1150) and ESPN Deportes (KWKW/1330, Spanish)
Referee: Paul Ward