LA Galaxy Weekly Update: September 26

Galaxy return home for two crucial games; against Morelia in CCL and Real Salt Lake in MLS

CARSON, Calif. (Monday, September 26, 2011)Following a dramatic win in Columbus on Saturday night, the Galaxy returned to Southern California riding a wave of momentum that they will look to carry them through a pair of games this week at The Home Depot Center.

On Wednesday, the Galaxy will look to keep their CONCACAF Champions League campaign alive when they host Morelia at 7 p.m. The Galaxy lost a heartbreaker to the current Group A leaders in Mexico two weeks ago, conceding two goals in the final seven minutes to lose 2-1. The Galaxy currently find themselves in third place in Group A, three points behind both Morelia and Alajuelense, who beat the Galaxy 1-0 in Costa Rica last week. However, the Galaxy know that a win over Morelia in Wednesday’s game, which will be shown live on FOX Soccer at 7 p.m., would leave them one win shy of a berth in the quarterfinals heading into their final group game against Motagua on October 20.

Just three days after facing one of their main adversaries in the race for the top spot in Group A, the Galaxy will face one of their main adversaries in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake, on Fan Appreciation Night at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy enter the week 10 points ahead of RSL at the top of the Western Conference, though Jason Kreis’ side will host Chicago on Wednesday in an effort to cut into that lead. Salt Lake are one of just three teams to beat the Galaxy in MLS this season, handing the Galaxy their first loss of the season on March 26, but an LA win this weekend would eliminate RSL from Supporters’ Shield contention. Saturday’s game, which is presented by Titan Auto Insurance, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and can be seen live on FOX Sports West.

INJURY REPORT

OUT – Sean Alvarado (Right Knee – Surgery), Gregg Berhalter (Right Foot – Sprain), Sean Franklin (Right Knee – Inflammation), Leonardo (Right Knee – Surgery)

DOUBTFUL – None

QUESTIONABLE – David Beckham (Back Spasms), Chris Birchall (Left Hamstring – Strain), Robbie Keane (Right Gluteus – Tightness), Donovan Ricketts (Right Quad – Tightness)

PROBABLE – None

TEAM NOTES

SUPPORTERS’ SHIELD IN SIGHT: Following their dramatic 1-0 win over Columbus on Saturday, the Galaxy are now on the verge of claiming the Supporters’ Shield, which is given annually to the team with the best regular season record in MLS. The Galaxy are now 17-3-10 on the year for 61 points. Real Salt Lake had been in position to move within striking distance of the Galaxy, but they lost 4-1 on the road to D.C. United on Saturday, leaving them 10 points behind the Galaxy with five games left on their schedule compared to four for the Galaxy, though one of those five games is at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night against Bruce Arena’s team.

READ: Playoff scenarios: Supporters' Shield in Sight

While RSL lost on Saturday, Seattle did not, beating Vancouver 3-1 to remain seven points behind the Galaxy in second place in the West with four league games remaining on their schedule. Salt Lake can pull back into a second place tie with Seattle on Wednesday night when they host Chicago at Rio Tinto Stadium. Regardless of that result, the Galaxy can eliminate RSL from Supporters’ Shield contention with a win over them on Saturday. They could also clinch their second consecutive Supporters’ Shield with a win over Salt Lake and a Seattle loss to the Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.

WINDING DOWN: The Galaxy’s busy September/early October schedule is winding to an end with three games in the next eight days. From September 5 until October 4, the Galaxy were scheduled to play a total of nine games, six in the league and three in the Champions League, in 30 days. So far, the Galaxy have played six of those matches, going 3-2-1 with wins over Colorado, Vancouver and Columbus, losses to Morelia and Alajuelense in the Champions League, and a road draw with Sporting Kansas City to begin the hectic portion of the schedule. The final leg of the schedule will begin on Wednesday with a home game against Morelia in the Champions League, a home game in the league against Real Salt Lake on Saturday before traveling to New York for a league game on Tuesday, October 4. That game was originally scheduled for Sunday, August 28, but was postponed because of Hurricane Irene, which struck the region the previous day.

SEVEN POINTS FROM RECORD: With their win over the Crew on Saturday, the Galaxy became just the third team in MLS history to eclipse the 60-point plateau in a single season. They join the 1998 Galaxy, who had an MLS record 68 points from a 24-8 record, and the 2005 San Jose Earthquakes, who had 64 points from an 18-4-10 record, which is the best in MLS history since the end of the shootout to decide games following the 1999 season.

The Galaxy now need just one more victory to match the Earthquakes tally of 64 points while they are seven points away from equaling their record point total from 1998. In order to match that mark, LA will need to win at least two of their final five games and get at least one draw, while anything more than that would see this year’s team set a new MLS record for points in a single season.

LA is also one win shy of equaling the MLS record for wins in a single season since the end of the shootout. The 2005 Earthquakes set that mark in 2005 with 18 wins while the Galaxy matched it in 2010, going 18-7-5 for 59 points en route to winning the Supporters’ Shield for the first time since 2002.

ONE SHUTOUT AWAY: Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders made four saves, all of which came in the second half, in Saturday’s 1-0 win in Columbus. That shutout was his seventh of the season in the league, moving him into a tie with Donovan Ricketts for the team lead and gave LA their 16th shutout in 30 regular season games this year. As a result, the Galaxy now need just one more shutout to equal the MLS record of 17 in a single season, which was set by the Kansas City Wizards in 2000 when they went on to win MLS Cup for the first and only time in the club’s history.

In 15 home league games so far this season, the Galaxy have kept nine clean sheets while allowing one goal or less in five of the other six games. The only time that the Galaxy have allowed more than one goal at home this season was on June 11 in a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC. In 15 road games, the Galaxy have recorded seven shutouts, including three in their last five league games. They have allowed two or more goals four times, while also doing so once in the Open Cup and once in the Champions League.

In all competitions this season, the Galaxy have 18 shutouts in 36 games while allowing just 29 goals for a 0.81 goals against average. Saunders has nine of those shutouts while Ricketts has seven, Brian Perk has one and the combination of Ricketts, Saunders and Mike Magee combined for the other in a 0-0 draw in San Jose on June 25.

BARRETT BACK INTO SECOND PLACE TIE: With his goal in the third minute of second half stoppage time, Chad Barrett moved back into a tie for second place on the club in goals both in MLS play and in all competitions. Since joining the Galaxy in January, Barrett has scored five regular season goals and one in the Champions League for a total of six in 27 games. That leaves him tied with Mike Magee who also has six goals in all competitions this season, scoring five times in MLS and once in the Open Cup.

Of Barrett’s six goals, two have come at home while the other four came on the road, though one of those was at The Home Depot Center when he scored LA’s only goal in their 1-0 win over Chivas USA in the first leg of the SuperClasico. Magee’s first goal of the year came on the road, at D.C. United on April 9, but each of his last five have come in home games, scoring in the Open Cup Third Round win over the L.A. Blues at Titan Stadium in Fullerton on June 28 and then tallying against FC Dallas on August 6, San Jose on August 20 and twice against Vancouver on September 17.

Landon Donovan leads the team with 12 goals in MLS and 13 in all competitions, while Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez and Juninho are tied for fourth place on the club with four goals in all competitions. All four of Franklin’s goals and Juninho’s goals have come in the league, while Gonzalez has scored twice in the league, once in the Open Cup and once in the Champions League. He joins Adam Cristman as the only two players on the club to score at least once in all three of those competitions.

THE HOME STRETCH: Following their two home games this week against Morelia and Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy will have just one home game remaining on their schedule, on October 16 against Chivas USA in the second leg of the SuperClasico. That means that three of LA’s final four games will be played on the road with the club traveling to New York on October 4 prior to the start of the international break. In mid-October, the club will play their final Champions League group stage game in Honduras against Motagua before traveling to Houston a few days later to face Houston in their MLS regular season finale.

This will be the first time since 2007 and just the third time in club history that the Galaxy will play their first and last games of the regular season on the road. This year, LA are 7-3-5 on the road after opening the regular season in Seattle with a 1-0 win over Sounders FC.

HOLDING THEIR OWN FATE IN THEIR HANDS: Despite last Wednesday’s loss to Alajuelense in the Champions League, the Galaxy remain in control of their Champions League destiny heading into Wednesday’s all-important showdown with Morelia at The Home Depot Center. If the Galaxy win each of their last two games in the competition, they will be guaranteed to finish no lower than second place in Group A, which means that they would advance to the quarterfinals to face one of the four group winners.

A win on Wednesday would put the Galaxy into a tie with Morelia on nine points and no more than three points behind Alajuelense, depending upon their result at home against Motagua on Thursday. The Galaxy hold the tie breaker over Alajuelense thanks to their +1 goal difference against the Costa Rican champions while any win by more than a goal over Morelia would give LA the tiebreaker over them as well.

A draw on Wednesday would keep the Galaxy three points behind Morelia and anywhere between two and five points behind Alajuelense, depending upon their result against Motagua. They would then need to win on the road against Motagua and get a favorable result from the game between Morelia and Alajuelense in Mexico on October 18 in order to advance.

The only way that the Galaxy could be eliminated from advancing to the quarterfinals would be with a loss to Morelia combined with a draw or win by Alajuelense on Thursday.

UNBEATEN AT HOME: While the Galaxy have lost their last two games in the Champions League, neither have come at The Home Depot Center where the club is undefeated this year. LA won each of their first two Champions League games at home, beating Motagua and Alajuelense by identical 2-0 scorelines. In MLS play, the Galaxy are 10-0-5 at home for 35 of their league-best 61 points. They also beat Chivas USA 1-0 in the first leg of the SuperClasico at The Home Depot Center on May 21, though they were the road team in that game.

Since the start of the 2009 season, the Galaxy are 29-8-16 at The Home Depot Center in MLS regular season play (three wins are as the visiting team against Chivas USA), 3-1-1 in the postseason, 1-0-0 in the U.S. Open Cup, 2-1-0 in the CONCACAF Champions League and 3-0-4 in friendlies or other preseason tournaments.

BECKHAM SUSPENDED FOR WEDNESDAY: The Galaxy will be forced to play without David Beckham on Wednesday night against Morelia after the midfielder was shown his second yellow card in the Champions League last Wednesday against Alajuelense. Beckham was booked in both games against the Costa Rican champions, leading to a one-game suspension that he will be forced to serve on Wednesday. The 36-year-old has played in three of LA’s four games so far in the Champions League, missing the trip to Morelia on September 13, tallying a team-best two assists.

This season, the Galaxy are 2-0-0 when Beckham has been suspended, beating Chicago 2-1 on the road on April 17 and beating Vancouver 4-0 on the road on July 30. Since joining the Galaxy in 2007, he has been suspended for a total of four games with the Galaxy going 3-1-0 in those contests, though this will be the first time that he misses a home game as a result of a suspension.

KEANE CALLED UP: Following Saturday’s game against Real Salt Lake, Robbie Keane will return to Ireland for his country’s final two games of qualifying for the 2012 European Championships. Keane, who has three goals in six games in all competitions for the Galaxy since joining the club last month, will try to lead Ireland to their first major international tournament since the 2002 FIFA World Cup as they take on Andorra and Armenia.

Ireland are currently in second place in Group B of qualifying for the tournament, which will be held in Poland and Ukraine next summer. They have a 4-1-3 record for 15 points, leaving them two points behind first place Russia and one point ahead of both Armenia and Slovakia, who are tied for third place. Ireland will play on the road against Andorra, who have lost all eight of their games so far, on Friday, October 7 before hosting Armenia in Dublin on Tuesday, October 11 in their final game of group play. Keane has played in and started all eight of Ireland’s previous qualifiers, playing at least 85 minutes in each, and scoring five of their 11 goals.

If Ireland finish in first place, they will automatically advance to the European Championships for the first time since 1988. They could also qualify for the tournament by finishing in second place in their group with the best second place team amongst all nine groups advancing directly to the tournament while the other eight will be paired off to play a two-leg playoff, which would be played in mid-November, with the four winners advancing to the European Championships.

IN THE COMMUNITY

GALAXY TO HOST DRIVE SERIES CLOTHING DRIVE ON OCTOBER 1: Winter is on its way and as a result, the Galaxy will be collecting new and gently-used clothing, shoes and blankets prior to Saturday night’s game against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, October 1. All items collected will go benefit children and families in need through the Union Rescue Mission.

Collection booths will be set up outside of all gates at The Home Depot Center starting two hours prior to the game. All fans that donate clothes will receive a Galaxy Drive Series voucher good for $5 off a ticket to the Galaxy’s game against Chivas USA on October 16, a player card signed by Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza and be entered into a drawing to win an adidas soccer ball signed by members of the 2011 Galaxy.

NEED TO KNOW

LOOKING FOR MORE UPDATES?: If you are looking for continuous updates from the Galaxy all week long, be sure to visit the club’s official websites www.lagalaxy.com and www.lagalaxyfutbol.com. The Galaxy can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lagalaxy and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lagalaxy.