Preview: LA Galaxy host Vancouver Whitecaps FC in potential playoff matchup at The Home Depot Center

LA looks to move six points clear of Vancouver

CARSON, Calif. – It is a relieved LA Galaxy that will take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a Western Conference showdown on Saturday at The Home Depot Center (7 p.m., KDOC, KWHY, AM 1150, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT).

They’re relieved in the sense that a demanding, 10-day stretch of four games, including Saturday, is going as well as expected, with CONCACAF Champions League victories over El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan last Thursday and Wednesday’s win over the Puerto Rico Islanders bracketing last Sunday’s 2-0 MLS triumph over FC Dallas.

The Galaxy (12-11-4, 40 points) also are relieved they were able to rest almost all of their starters on Wednesday, with only Hector Jimenez, Sean Franklin and Marcelo Sarvas getting playing time in a largely reserve lineup that produced an impressive 4-0 romp.

View from the Booth

“It was terrific,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “I don’t know baseball that much, but they talk all the time when a starter can pitch a lot of innings it helps the bullpen. That’s kind of how it was last night.

“Last night the bullpen helped the starters, sort of speaking. Those guys being able to log in a lot of minutes really did the job for us.”

The Galaxy’s Mike Magee, one of Wednesday’s unused substitutes along with David Beckham (who was still recovering from an illness) and A.J. DeLaGarza, called the current stretch of games challenging to get through.

“It was crazy,” he said after training Thursday. “We had a nice little break (eight days) after the Columbus game (a 1-1 tie on Aug. 15), and we heard that our schedule was going to start getting easier. I think somebody sent out an article like that and, sure enough, we get four games in two weeks.

“First it looked like it was going to be hard to overcome, but the guys have had the right attitude and we’ve actually made it pretty fun.”

Said Arena, “Oddly enough when we’ve had these tough stretches we’ve managed to get through. I think the exception to that was when we had that stretch at Houston, the Open Cup and the game before [at home against San Jose].”

That stretch, which saw the Galaxy lose all three matches, featured three games in just six days.

“Our players are dealing with it,” Arena added. “Obviously having the opportunity to play other players [on Wednesday] really helped get us ready for Saturday as well.”

The Galaxy are facing a Whitecaps FC (10-10-7, 37 points) team that is fifth in the West but has had trouble on the road this season.

Vancouver, in fact, is just 1-5-1 in its last seven away games, with its only road win during that stretch a 1-0 victory at Colorado on July 4.

Magee called them a formidable opponent, especially after remembering the teams’ previous matchup in which the Galaxy rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the final 10 minutes to forge a 2-2 tie in Vancouver on July 18.

“They’re tough, a team sitting three points behind us,” he said.

STANDINGS

“Every game at home we have to win and make a statement, but this one especially. We kind of fancy ourselves as the team being at the top of the table. I think if we win this points-wise we’ll be second in the (conference).

“For us it’s a must-win game.”