Preview: Galaxy ready for Independence Day showdown with Union
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s momentum train may have slowed down a bit after last Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, but coaches and players insist it will get back on track in no time.
They’ll get their first chance to make that happen against another team trying to recover from a slow start to the season, the Philadelphia Union, today at The Home Depot Center (7:30 p.m., KDOC, KWHY, lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive).
WATCH: View from the Booth
In the Union (3-9-2, ninth in the Eastern Conference), the Galaxy (6-9-2, sixth in the West) are facing a team in transition. It was on June 13 that head coach Peter Nowak was fired and replaced by assistant John Hackworth, and results have been mixed. The Union lost their first game under Hackworth, 1-0 to D.C. United, three days later but they followed with an impressive 4-0 win at home over Sporting Kansas City and a 5-2 victory over Harrisburg City in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup before losing to Houston 2-1 on June 30.
They are just 1-5-1 on the road this season, with their lone victory away from home at, of all places, The Home Depot Center. Philadelphia defeated Chivas USA 1-0 on April 21.
“They’re a young, athletic team,” Galaxy defender Sean Franklin said.
“We’re know they’re going to come in here and not just sit back.
They’re going to come at us and throw a lot of numbers.
“Even though they’ve had a tough season they’re looking to get a win.
They’re going to be tough on Wednesday.”
The Union are led by Lionard Pajoy and Gabriel Gomez, who just returned from injury, with each sitting tied for the team lead with four goals. While that duo has combined for eight goals, the rest of the squad has just five as the Union have struggled in attack this season, scoring an MLS-low 13 goals.
WATCH: Match Preview
Despite those offensive struggles, the Union’s biggest move of late has been to strengthen their defense with the signing of center back Bakary Soumare. A 2008 MLS Defender of the Year finalist and former All-Star who had knee surgery three months ago, Soumare is not expected to be available for his Union debut on Wednesday.
The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan is familiar with Hackworth, a former U.S. U-17 national team coach, for some time and expects the Union to be a formidable opponent Wednesday.
“They’re a much better team than they were a few weeks ago, a month ago,” he said. “I’ve known Hackworth a while. I know the guys really respect him and really play hard for him. They’re relatively young and inexperienced and they play hard and they’re going to come in here thinking they can get something out of the game.”
Donovan and Franklin insist the Galaxy, who will be playing without David Beckham -- he’ll miss Wednesday’s game because of yellow card accumulation -- will be ready.
The emotional loss to the Earthquakes already is behind them, Franklin said.
“Earlier in the year it probably would have bothered us,” he said.
“But we’re a mature team and we’ve bounced back from games like this.
“I know we’ll bounce back for Wednesday’s game against Philly.”