UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The end of the work week brings with it perhaps one of the biggest regular-season games in MLS history. On Friday night at The Home Depot Center, the LA Galaxy will battle the New York Red Bulls as two of the league's flagship franchises meet for the second time this season.
In mid-August, the Red Bulls outplayed Los Angeles for much of the match, but conceded an early goal off a sloppy play by Rafa Márquez to give the Galaxy the only goal they needed for the win.
A look at four things to watch before Friday night’s game:
1) Márquez Bent On Revenge
Last time New York played Los Angeles, Márquez had a rough game. Coming off a friendly with Mexico just a couple days before, the central midfielder looked tired and lacked his usual impact on the match. Márquez says that this time for Los Angeles, “I feel better, I think I can help the team more."
On Monday, Márquez received extra treatment from the team’s medical staff, and opted out of training with the squad. Backe anticipates having Márquez on the field Friday night. He trained fully on Tuesday.
2) Beckham Is Back
Friday night’s game may lack Thierry Henry, but Los Angeles will be bolstered by the most extensive action for David Beckham in league play since last fall as he continues to get in game shape. Backe says that he is planning on seeing Beckham on the field “for about 60 minutes” this weekend.
3) Ángel's Return
Fresh off a substitute appearance against FC Dallas on Thursday night, Juan Pablo Angel is primed to return to the starting XI following the injury to Henry. Ángel, who was replaced in the lineup by the recently acquired Mehdi Ballouchy, did not seem pleased with the benching or his possible new role with the team as a super sub. Look for Ángel to partner with Ballouchy up top.
4) Henry's absence
News out of Red Bulls camp on Tuesday was that Henry would not be traveling with the team after suffering what head coach Hans Backe called a “soft” knee injury. Henry did not train with the team on Monday or Tuesday, but did do some fitness work. Márquez downplayed the injury, saying that while Friday’s game is important, that fans need to look at the long haul with regards to Henry.
“We have more important games in front of us,” Márquez said. “We need him 110 percent.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012