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Match #3 Preview: Philadelphia Union at LA Galaxy

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Setting: Saturday, April 2 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California; kickoff scheduled for 10:36:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: The Comcast Network (J.P. Dellacamera, Taylor Twellman), coverage scheduled to start at 10:15 PM following Phillies Post-Game Live with a pre-game show; Fox Sports West (Jim Watson, Mark Rogondino, Jackie Pickering), KTLK 1150 AM (Joe Tutino, Ralph Perez), ESPN Deportes KWKW 1330 AM (Rolando Gonzalez, Armando Aguayo) / MLS Direct Kick, MLS MatchDay Live (Fox Sports West feed)

LA's Record: 1-1-1, 3rd in West

LA's Last Match: L, 4-1 at Real Salt Lake

Philadelphia vs. LA Last Season: 0-2-0 (Philadelphia 1 @ Los Angeles 3 on May 1, Los Angeles 1 @ Philadelphia 0 on October 7)

After picking up consecutive victories for the first time in club history, the first-place Union (how about that?) travel west for a matchup with Landon Donovan, David Beckham and the LA Galaxy. Rest assured that the Union, who had somewhat shaky (or, at the very least, nondominant) performances against both Houston and Vancouver and in hindsight were somewhat lucky to pick up full points in both matches, will not find it nearly as easy to settle into a rhythm against the star-studded Galaxy.

Indeed, the injury-depleted Union didn't face anything like the roster LA will use against them with Houston and Vancouver. The Galaxy are loaded from front to back, although they haven't quite reached their full potential with goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts still on the mend from a right hamstring sprain. It will be a real challenge for Philadelphia to continue their control of their own third, let alone midfield and their attacking third. Plus, with the Galaxy coming off a humiliating defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium, they will be ready to prove their doubters wrong, to say the least. Oh, and some guy named Donovan has returned to the club following national team duties. Perhaps you've heard of him?

Let's put it like this: it will be very, very impressive if the Union manage to gain a result in Carson. Is it an overstatement to say this may be the fourth most important match in club history, save the opening matches last year at Seattle, Lincoln Financial Field and PPL Park?

Projected starting lineups, up-to-date injury reports and some additional notes after the jump..

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); Williams, Califf, Valdes, Harvey; Nakazawa, Carroll, Miglioranzi; Le Toux, Ruiz, Mwanga

Los Angeles (4-1-3-2): Saunders; Dunivant, Leonardo, DeLaGarza, Franklin; Juninho; Stephens, Birchall, Beckham; Barrett, Angel

Injury updates:

For the Union, Justin Mapp remains "questionable" with a left hamstring sprain, while Carlos Valdes and Danny Califf are considered "probable" with a right ankle sprain, and a left knee meniscus issue, respectively. Zac MacMath and Amobi Okugo remain away for national team duties.

For the Galaxy, Gregg Berhalter is considered to be ruled out with a left knee MCL sprain, as is Adam Cristman, who is recovering from left knee surgery. Donovan Ricketts is listed as "questionable" with his right hamstring sprain with Omar Gonzalez noted as "probable" despite a right shoulder sprain.

Of note:

  • David Beckham scored his first goal for England's national team on a free kick in the 1998 World Cup. The goaltender he beat was none other than Faryd Mondragon. The two also played each other in a 2005 friendly at Giants Stadium that saw Beckham's England side once again beat Mondragon's Colombia team. LAGalaxy.com's Larry Morgan caught up with both players to relive that moment and see how much they remembered from that match from some twelve-and-a-half years ago.
  • In nine career matches coaching against the Galaxy, Peter Nowak is 1-5-3.
  • Carlos Ruiz, who was a member of the Galaxy from 2002-2005 and in 2008, wasn't exactly complimentary of fans in Los Angeles. After last Saturday's win over Vancouver, Ruiz said that they "don't feel the passion of the game like in Philly." Will he turn in a performance like Galaxy fans were accustomed to seeing during his first stretch with the club, when he scored a rather ridiculous 50 goals in 72 appearances?
  • Last year in Los Angeles, the Union got off to a poor start very quickly, with A.J. DeLaGarza converting on an Edson Buddle feed just 53 seconds into the match. Certainly trying to have a nice and steady start will be very important tomorrow, especially against this Galaxy club. Here's hoping there's no opening confetti flying around Home Depot Center for the start of tomorrow's match.
  • Paul Ward is scheduled to be tomorrow night's match referee. In the 26 MLS games he's run, he's called an average of just over 23 fouls per match, and has handed out an average of 3.5 yellow cards per match. He's given a total of 6 red cards and has called for a total of 6 penalty kicks.

The Union look to exact some revenge for the Galaxy's sweep of last year's season series as Los Angeles looks to put their embarrassing loss to Real Salt Lake behind them. No, it may not be a pretty result for the Union, but it should still be a fun one to watch, and we hope you can join us tomorrow night for the gamethread.