CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza said it’s important for the team to put last Sunday’s stunning loss to FC Dallas behind them “and get three points.”
That their first opportunity to do so should come Saturday against the New York Red Bulls (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3.com, 8 p.m.) at The Home Depot Center in one of the most eagerly-awaited matchups of the MLS season is beside the point, he emphasized.
“Like every game, three points is a must,” he said. “Especially after what happened in Dallas.”
DeLaGarza, however, did admit there is no denying the pregame buildup for the match that features the Eastern and Western Conference powers. The Red Bulls have lost just once in seven matches (4-1-2) while the Galaxy have only two defeats in nine games (4-2-3).
What fans are particularly looking forward to, however, is New York’s Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and recent acquisition Dwayne De Rosario facing the Galaxy’s David Beckham, Landon Donovan and former Red Bull Juan Pablo Angel.
Beckham and Henry didn’t face each other last year – Beckham missed the first meeting last August because he still was rehabbing his torn Achilles – and Henry was a no-show for the September rematch in Los Angeles because of a knee injury.
But they’re ready to go this weekend and Beckham is looking forward to meeting up with one of his good friends.
“It’s going to be great,” said Beckham, who added he has been in frequent touch with Henry, who has three goals and three assists this season. “It’s good to see he’s fit and playing well. It will be good for him to be here and for our fans as well to see him play because he’s such a great talent and has been for many years.
“He’s looking forward to coming to L.A. and he’s enjoying football.”
Beckham said he has been eagerly awaiting Saturday’s showdown, but he also wants to make sure he and his teammates pay attention to the task at hand.
“It was obviously a game you look forward to, but you concentrate on all the other games before you come up against the likes of Rafa Marquez and Thierry,” he said. “They’re great players and we’re looking forward to this game, but it’s important that we stick to our game plan and play the way we can.
“We’ve prepared well this week, obviously after the loss last weekend. We’ve had a good week of training, so we’re ready.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said he hasn’t paid much, if any, attention to the buildup. In fact, he said he hasn’t even heard of any such hyperbole.
“I don’t know if there’s been any, to be honest with you,” he said.
“I don’t pay a lot of attention to it. I’ll be honest, we haven’t talked about it as a team and we haven’t done anything differently this week than any other week.
“I just think you have two highly visible teams playing. Their week and our week should probably be normal, one would think.”
Not exactly, according to Landon Donovan. The Galaxy captain said Saturday’s game is exactly what most fans look forward to.
“For most sports leagues,” he said, “it’s a dream to have two big cities like this succeeding and playing well and matching up together. Obviously in the NBA if the Knicks and Lakers could play everybody would be pretty happy if they played in the finals.
“We understand that kind of makes it special. I’m not going to pretend there’s not a lot of hype around it. Obviously there is and you’ll see that demonstrated in how many seats are sold and how many seats are filled on Saturday.
“My guess is a lot of people will be watching the game, more than usual. It will have a special feel to it, which is nice.”