CARSON, Calif. -- With Landon Donovan "unlikely" to appear this weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes and seemingly targeting to return by the playoffs, the LA Galaxy must answer the question -- who starts alongside Irish forward Robbie Keane.
Head coach Bruce Arena has a wealth of options to replace Donovan including forwards Edson Buddle, Jose Villarreal, and Pat Noonan as well as versatile midfielders Mike Magee and Christian Wilhelmsson. It was Magee, who started a majority of games when Donovan was absent earlier in the year, but after training on Friday, Keane told reporters that Magee would not be starting up front.
With one name seemingly crossed off, that leaves us to speculate on which player will take Donovan’s spot up top.
The likeliest option appears to be Buddle, who has played in the Galaxy’s last seven matches in all competitions since returning from knee surgery. While Buddle’s physicality and ability to get in dangerous scoring positions makes him a valuable asset, he has yet to score since returning from injury. But as he has proved throughout his career, once Buddle gets one goal, the odds are that he’ll get another soon.
Meanwhile, Villarreal’s speed and ability to score highlight-reel goals makes him an option to start alongside Keane. However, the 18-year-old forward has seen limited minutes recently, making just two substitute appearances since the end of August. Noonan remains the unlikeliest of the bunch as he has appeared in just one game since August, but has shined for the Galaxy Reserve League squad—even scoring a brilliant goal in their recent 6-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps Reserves.
Perhaps the most intriguing option is Wilhelmsson, who is primarily a wide player, but has seen limited minutes as a forward during his career. With his speed and ball skills, he could provide an effective complement alongside the more possession-oriented Keane, which could stretch opposing defenses.
Who would you play alongside Keane?
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