Galaxy getting ready to face Houston
The LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo meet for the first time this season on
Saturday in Houston's
Robertson Stadium in a rematch of last year's Western Conference championship.
The Galaxy won that meeting, 2-0,
last Nov. 12 at Home Depot Center, but now they're in enemy territory against a
team which has been one of the most formidable at home in MLS. No matter; the
Galaxy went 2-0-1 against the Dynamo a year ago, including a 0-0 tie last Oct.
18 in Houston
and are looking forward to this weekend's challenge.
Head coach Bruce Arena said there
was real no secret to the Galaxy's success against the Dynamo last season.
“I'm not sure,” he said. “Sometimes
you get lucky. They're a good team, among the top teams in the league for a
number of years now. They have a style of play that's very difficult to match
up against, especially in Houston
at Robertson Stadium with the narrow field. They're a big team physically, you
have to be smart and keep your concentration for 90 minutes.”
“They're always one of the most
challenging teams to play against.''
Midfielder Dema Kovalenko said last
year's success against the Dynamo -- Houston
failed to score a goal in the three matches -- is history.
“That was last year,” he said. “This
is a new game. We just have to go in again with a good approach and not change
anything. We just have to be stronger mentally and defensively tighten things
up. They have a very good coach and they've been at the top for a long time.
And they know how to win, especially
“We have to go in there with
confidence and hope to play our game.''
Galaxy striker Alan Gordon said the
key to the team's success against Houston
last year could be traced to better organization, especially on defense. The
likes of new goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and defenders Gregg Berhalter and Omar
Gonzalez (who went to become MLS Rookie of the Year) helped cut the Galaxy's
goals-allowed by one half from 2008.
“We were an organized team last
year,” he said. “We stay organized and stay tough we can beat anybody. We
always get up for this kind of game and we usually stay focused. If we maintain
focus and keep 11 players on the field, we can do the same thing Saturday.”
Said midfielder Chris Klein, “Any
time you play Houston
you have to match their intensity. They're a team that no matter who's on the
field they play the same way. We expect that to be the same, especially in Houston and in their
“And especially against us, a team
that ended their season last year.”
A number of Galaxy players and coaches are going to pay particularly close
attention to this week's Masters, which marks the return of Tiger Woods to the
Gordon, among the Galaxy’s best
golfers, said he's more curious than normal to see what will transpire this
“I think Tiger will be solid,''
Gordon said. ``I don't think he'll step on the course and not be prepared to
play. It's all going to be a mental game, and he's shown time and time again
how strong mentally he is. I'm not going to doubt him ... I'd say he winds up
anywhere from 10th to 15th.”
Added Arena, “I'd be surprised if he
doesn't make the cut. But making the cut in the Masters isn't easy, either. I
would think he makes the cut and gets up in the top 25.
“I wish I could hit a golf ball as
bad as he's going to be hitting it this week. I think he may not be sharp by
his standards, but he's sharp by the standards of the PGA Tour.”
Klein, another of the Galaxy's most
avid golfers and an admitted Tiger fan, said he can't wait to see him play
“I love watching him compete,” he
said. “I never bet against him, so I think he's going to do very well. He's got
as good a chance as anyone. I think he deserves that second chance to come out
and show how he's changed.''