CARSON, CA - APRIL 02: Carlos Ruiz #20 of the Philadelphia Union defends off Omar Gonzalez #4 of the Los Angeles Galaxy during the Philadelphia Union v Los Angeles Galaxy Match at The Home Depot Center on April 2, 2011 in Carson, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Setting: Wednesday, May 11 at PPL Park in Chester; kickoff scheduled for 7:36:30 PM Eastern
Broadcast Information: The Comcast Network (J.P. Dellacamera, Taylor Twellman, Bob Rigby), coverage starting at 7:00 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / Fox Sports West (Jim Watson, Mark Rogandino), lagalaxy.com (Joe Tutino), ESPN Deportes KWKW 1330 AM (Rolando Gonzalez, Armando Aguayo) in Los Angeles / MLS Direct Kick, MLS MatchDay Live (Fox Sports West feed)
LA's Record: 4-2-4, first in West
LA's Last Match: T, 1-1 vs. New York Red Bulls
Philadelphia vs. LA This Season: 0-1-0 (Philadelphia 0 @ Los Angeles 1 on April 2)
A busy week continues for the Philadelphia Union, who host Landon Donovan, David Beckham and the L.A. Galaxy sandwiched between away matches at Portland and Dallas. Certainly not an easy schedule! In fact, this may be the week we look back on in September, October and November as the regular season winds down and the playoff picture becomes clearer and say "this is the week" that either propelled the Union into receiving their first-ever playoff birth, or began the club's descent from the top of the table to a middling side whose players couldn't score more than one goal in a match to save their lives.
Perhaps that's an overstatement, but certainly the Union still have a lot to prove about the efficacy of their new form, and looking back on the season schedule and seeing that the club -- which following match #1 at Houston insisted it was finding its place among Major League Soccer's elite -- struggled in direct competition with its high-ranking peers. Either way, Peter Nowak and company need to figure out a way to rectify their lack of scoring. I've said in, oh, probably six of the eight previews we've done for the Union that the offense is struggling. In the club's first couple of games, it didn't really cost them. Now, though, as Philadelphia enters the crux of the MLS season, their inability to net more than one goal is starting to cost them points.
The Los Angeles Galaxy aren't exactly a prime side in which to attempt to revitalize the offensive game. Indeed, the idea of the Union hoping to finish more of the carefully crafted offensive chances they're able to create while facing one of the stingier defenses and best goalkeepers in the League isn't exactly a perfect thought. But, with David Beckham and Leonardo unavailable for the Galaxy, perhaps the Union can shift their in-match focus slightly, perhaps from 50% offense and 50% defense to 60% offense and 40% defense. It's a risk, yes, but Faryd Mondragon isn't the highest paid goalkeeper in MLS for nothing.
Projected starters, up-to-date injury reports and assorted match notes after the jump...
Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); Harvey, Califf, Valdes, Williams; Mapp, Carroll, Miglioranzi; Ruiz, Mwanga, Le Toux
Los Angeles: Ricketts; Dunivant, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Franklin; Magee, Juninho, Birchall, Donovan; Angel, Barrett
For Philadelphia, Thorne Holder remains unavailable due to a concussion, while Stefani Miglioranzi is considered "probable" despite a right groin strain.
For Los Angeles, David Beckham did not make the trip, while Sean Alvarado and Leonardo are also out due to a right knee ACL tear and recovery from right knee surgery, respectively. Gregg Berhalter, Adam Cristman and Miguel Lopez are listed as "questionable" with a left knee MCL sprain, recovery from left knee surgery and a left knee contusion, respectively.
- Andrew Chapin is scheduled to be the match referee. In 29 career MLS matches, Chapin has called an average of between 27 and 28 fouls per match, given between four and five yellow cards per match, handed out a total of eight red cards and has awarded a total of four penalty kicks.
- Four of the ten goals the Galaxy have conceded in MLS this season have come in the first fifteen minutes of matches. They've allowed three goals in the last fifteen minutes of matches. If that doesn't speak to another reason the Union will need a strong start and strong finish against this club, I don't know what will.
- Five of the twelve goals the Galaxy have scored in MLS have been headers. The Union will need to win the battles in the air, and Los Angeles not having a player like Beckham who can places balls perfectly will certainly help in that regard.
- According to Carlos Ruiz, the Galaxy "is in trouble right now" because of their top-heavy schedule, and the Union are "in a better position than them." Oh, and by the way, the Galaxy are "not good like everyone thinks" and they "don't do anything spectacular." Tell us how you really feel.
- Peter Nowak is 1-6-3 in his coaching career against the Galaxy, and 0-3-0 while with the Union, following the Union's loss in Carson last month. Maybe John Hackworth will find himself a bit luckier against this L.A. club, with Nowak away in Poland.
sThe Union look to, you know, score more than one goal (perhaps Mr. Ruiz can help put actions behind his words), while the Galaxy aim to continue to solidify their top ranking in the Western Conference. Hope you can join us for a gamethread -- mid-week MLS action at PPL Park is always a good time.