Pregame Notes: Surging Galaxy host slumping Whitecaps Saturday at The Home Depot Center

LA aim to continue winning streak vs Vancouver, climb Western Conference standings
LA GALAXY vs VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
September 1, 2012 (WEEK 26, MLS Game #253)
7 p.m. PT (KDOC/KHWY (LA), TSN2/RDS2 (Canada), MLS Live, Direct Kick, AM 1150, 1330 AM, lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive)
 
A huge match in the Western Conference playoff picture is ahead on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center when the LA Galaxy meet Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the third time this season. The Galaxy sit in fourth place in the West following their 2-0 home win against FC Dallas last weekend, three points ahead of Whitecaps FC, who saw their losing skid stretch to three games in a defeat by Portland last weekend. The Galaxy have never lost to Whitecaps FC, though the teams played to a 2-2 draw in their last meeting, Vancouver’s first goal ever in the series.
 
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. AR1 (bench): Ian Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 140 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 48; pens: 51
 
 
INJURY REPORT:
LA GALAXY – OUT: DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); QUESTIONABLE: FW Edson Buddle (R knee surgery); FW Landon Donovan (L hamstring strain); DF David Junior Lopes (L ankle sprain); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms)
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – OUT: FW Omar Salgado (R foot fracture); PROBABLE: DF Andy O'Brien (R adductor strain); MF Gershon Koffie (R adductor strain)
 
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: VAN: Darren Mattocks (through Sept. 2)
 
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: LA: Marcelo Sarvas... VAN: Jun Marques Davidson, Darren Mattocks, Alain Rochat
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: LA: David Beckham, A.J. DeLaGarza, David Junior Lopes … VAN: Jay DeMerit
 
HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Galaxy 3 wins, 12 goals … Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
AT LA (2 meetings): Galaxy 2 wins, 6 goals … Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 0
2012 (MLS)
6/23: LA 3, VAN 0 (Magee 16; Keane 30; Donovan 41)
7/18: VAN 2, LA 2 (Koffie 18; Robson 27 – Beckham 81; Villarreal 87)
  • The clubs are meeting for the third time this season. Mike Magee, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan all scored as the Galaxy rolled to a 3-0 win June 23 at The Home Depot Center. Then on July 18 at BC Place, late goals from LA’s David Beckham and José Villarreal canceled out tallies from Gershon Koffie and Barry Robson as the teams reached a 2-2 draw.
  • The Galaxy had won the first three meetings between the teams in dominant fashion, outscoring Whitecaps FC 10-0, before the draw last month.
  • Coaches' records: Bruce Arena vs. VAN: P4 W3 L0 D1 … Martin Rennie vs. LA: P2 W0 L1 D1
LAST MEETING
HIGHLIGHTS: Vancouver 2, LA 2

  • Whitecaps FC were in the lead after 18 minutes. Camilo won the ball in midfield, then slipped a pass through a defender's legs as he was knocked down. Gershon Koffie eventually wrong-footed his marker before hitting a low left-footed effort into the bottom right corner.
  • Vancouver doubled the lead nine minutes later. Barry Robson got away from his marker before redirecting Lee Young-Pyo’s cross into the top right corner past LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
  • The Galaxy began their fight back in the 81st minute through David Beckham. Taking a pass laid back by Landon Donovan, Beckham's shot from outside the box took a deflection past goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
  • LA hit for the equalizer six minutes later. Jose Villarreal took a pass and cut back in the top of the area before curling a shot inside the far post past Cannon.
  • VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-2-3-1): Joe Cannon - Lee Young-Pyo, Jay DeMerit, Martin Bonjour, Jordan Harvey - Gershon Koffie, Jun Marques Davidson - Dane Richards, Barry Robson, Camilo (Michael Nanchoff 69) - Darren Mattocks.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, David Junior Lopes, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant (Bryan Gaul 31) - Hector Jimenez (Jose Villarreal 71), Marcelo Sarvas, David Beckham, Michael Stephens (Juninho 57) - Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane.
LA GALAXY
The LA Galaxy stretched their undefeated streak to three games, defeating FC Dallas 2-0 on Sunday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy are in fourth place in the Western Conference with 40 points from 26 games. STANDINGS
 
LAST MATCH
  • The Galaxy broke the stalemate in the 66th minute. Substitute Jose Villarreal stripped rookie Matt Hedges of the ball about 15 yards outside the Dallas box, raced past goalkeeper Kevin Hartman on the left side, then rolled the ball into the goalmouth for Juninho to finish.
  • The home side doubled the advantage six minutes from the end through Todd Dunivant. After feeding Robbie Keane in the Dallas box from the left flank, Dunivant raced forward as Keane played the ball wide to Michael Stephens, whose penetrating pass left Dunivant one-on-one with Hartman from the left.
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made one change to the team that reached a 1-1 draw at the Columbus Crew. David Beckham came into the midfield in place of Michael Stephens.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Hector Jimenez (Jose Villarreal 59), Juninho, David Beckham (Michael Stephens 78), Marcelo Sarvas - Robbie Keane, Mike Magee (Pat Noonan 88).
TEAM NEWS
  • The Galaxy won for the ninth time in the last 14 games, and have recorded three shutouts in their last five.
  • “[It] was a huge statement, to kind of, not necessarily put Dallas out of it but at least give a little distance for us, said defender Todd Dunivant. “They’ve been playing so well and climbing up the table and if they won tonight it was a two point lead for us. Obviously, it was a big game and we wanted to come out strong.”
  • After missing two games while in London for the close of the XXX Summer Olympic Games, David Beckham returned to the starting lineup. He was battling a stomach virus, but still played 78 minutes.
  • “After an hour of sleep, throwing up all night, it's never easy,” Beckham said. “But two of the kids are the same, so I just go through it. I think at the end of the day, I played almost 80 minutes and I didn’t feel great, but the important part was the three points.” Said Arena: “For David to hang in there was outstanding; great leadership on his part.”
  • Juninho scored his third goal in the last three games, after netting twice vs. Chivas. In all competitions, he has five goals in five games since Aug. 12.
  • “Fitness and intelligence,” Arena said. “He's had a great engine over the last, probably, two months. He's gotten real fit. He's gotten his weight down to where it needs to be. And he's simply been outstanding.” Said Juninho: “It's the confidence right not to keep going forward. ... The confidence that I have, and everything just plays off of that.”
  • After scoring his first professional goal July 18 vs. Vancouver, Jose Villarreal recorded his first MLS assist. He’s come on as a substitute in seven of the last eight league matches.
  • “He's crafty, he's a gamer and he's a young kid that doesn't know any better, and that's great because he's confident and he's playing well and he's dangerous,” said defender Todd Dunivant,. “He's holding the ball up, not just doing the obvious things, like scoring goals. He's doing the little things, and that's huge for us.”
  • Together for a third consecutive match, the Galaxy first-choice back four of Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza and Dunivant recorded a second shutout in that time, having allowed one goal in the three games.
  • “I thought that we all did well. They got a couple chances here and there, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. We gave them a little bit of time in the beginning part of the second half, but we got it under control and then just moved on from there. I thought we played a pretty solid match,” said Gonzalez. “ … Shutouts are what we defenders play for and we just want to keep on getting shutouts and it makes it easier for us to win the games, all we’ve got to do is score one goal, two goals and then we walk away with the win.”
  • Robbie Keane maintained his recent good form, credited with an assist on the second Galaxy goal. He has a goal or an assist in five of his last six games; since returning from the European Championships, he has a goal or an assist in 10 of the 12 games that he has played, tallying eight goals and five assists in that time.
  • On Wednesday, the Galaxy rolled to a second victory in the CONCACAF Champions League in a 4-0 defeat of the Puerto Rico Islanders at The Home Depot Center. Tommy Meyer sent the Galaxy on their win with a seventh-minute goal, and Jose Villarreal (46), Jack McBean (80) and Michael Stephens (82) scored after the break to give the Galaxy two wins in two starts in Group 5.
  • Here’s the Galaxy team: Brian Perk; Hector Jimenez, Tommy Meyer, Andrew Boyens, Bryan Gaul; Michael Stephens, Kenney Walker, Rafael Garcia, Pat Noonan (Edson Buddle 71); Jose Villarreal (Sean Franklin 52), Jack McBean (Marcelo Sarvas 82)
  • “We chose the lineup we thought could win the game and I thought they played extremely well. Real pleased with a bunch of our young players that got the opportunity to play ... If you asked me before this game would I expect to win this game 4-0 I would certainly have said ‘no’ but when you get a group of players with confidence who played well with the early goal, I think was important for their confidence,” said Arena. “I just thought that they played extremely well for 90 minutes.”
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC went down to a third consecutive defeat, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. Whitecaps FC are in fifth place in the Western Conference with 37 points from 27 games.
 
LAST MATCH
  • The Timbers opened the scoring in the 41st minute. Eric Alexander advanced the ball to Jack Jewsbury at the top of the box, and Jewsbury’s neatly placed through ball put Darlington Nagbe in perfect position to calmly finish past Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
  • But Whitecaps FC pulled level before the halftime break. Vancouver defender Jay DeMerit came away with a loose ball on the right side of the area after the Timbers failed to clear a corner, eventually finding Kenny Miller for a wide open shot that he slotted past Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
  • Portland restored the lead in the 55th minute when Franck Songo’o uncorked a low free kick just inside the left post that Cannon was unable to corral despite getting his hands to the shot.
  • Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie made three changes to the team that fell 2-0 to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Jay DeMerit, John Thorrington and Barry Robson came into the team in place of Carlyle Mitchell, Gershon Koffie and Darren Mattocks.
  • VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-2-3-1): Joe Cannon - Lee Young-Pyo, Andy O'Brien (Martin Bonjour 61), Jay DeMerit, Alain Rochat - Jun Marques Davidson, John Thorrington (Darren Mattocks 65, sent off 84) - Dane Richards (Atiba Harris 85), Barry Robson, Camilo - Kenny Miller.
TEAM NEWS
  • Whitecaps FC suffered a third consecutive defeat, their longest losing slide of the season and longest since last Sept. 17-Oct. 2.
  • “When you look at the overall performance and the overall game as I did, we didn’t do enough of the things that we wanted to do,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “We didn’t win enough second balls and duels, we didn’t manage to get the ball under control and get it wide, we didn’t get balls in the box as much as we’d like to, we didn’t stop enough crosses coming in from them. So, that’s a lot of things adding up, and if you don’t get those things right, then you’re going to be in a difficult spot.”
  • The return trip to The Home Depot Center is the second game of a four-game road swing where Whitecaps FC have dropped the first two. In a five-game road swing earlier this season (June 23-July 14), Whitecaps FC went 1-3-1 – including a 3-0 loss to the Galaxy.
  • “We’re in a bad spell. We’re not playing to the standard that we were before, so it’s going to be a good test for our character to see how we bounce back,” said Rennie. “… It’s one of those things where we have to dig really deep. We’re going to get criticism and understandably so. I think based on that performance that wasn’t anywhere near the standard we expect from anybody. We have to turn it around.”
  • Kenny Miller scored his first MLS goal in his third league start (and sixth consecutive appearance), ending the Vancouver goal drought at 251 minutes.
  • Darren Mattocks came on as a substitute after starting the Seattle match, but his shift was ended after just 19 minutes when he was sent off for a second time this season.
  • “I think the thing is that discipline has been a big topic and we’ve been addressing that. The thing that’s very frustrating is there’s a point players need to take accountability too because I think it’s only three players that have over 20 cards,” said Rennie. “ … He’s a young player, but he does need to learn from that because that’s something that could hold him back from being a very good player and we can’t have that. Hopefully this can be a big enough wakeup call that he can learn from it.”
  • Jay DeMerit returned to the lineup after missing two matches entirely, after he was forced off early in the Real Salt Lake match Aug. 11 when he suffered a punch to the head.
  • “There’s many games where Joe [Cannon] has kept us clean and made some good saves to keep us in games. Unfortunately it didn’t go his way, but we all have to take that hit and not just blame it on him,” DeMerit said. “We had other chances to tie the game and subsequently go on and win the game. There’s a lot of things you can put excuses on, but ultimately it comes down to us making sure we have the character to bounce back and that’s the only thing that matters right now.”
  • Winger Dane Richards will be leaving the club after the close of the season to join English second-tier side Burnley.
  • “It’s quite common,” Rennie said. “Players will know where they’re going to move at the end of the season and players just get on with it. It’s a good opportunity for him to go play in England and we wish him well with that. But I think he wants to finish the season well and make a big impression here.”