For the third time in 2011 the LA Galaxy will play three games in an eight-day stretch. After the win against Chivas USA in the first installment of the SuperClasico on Saturday, a date with former conference rival Houston goes down at The Home Depot Center on Wednesday. This will be the first time the clubs meet with the Dynamo as a member of the Eastern Conference. Houston is in the midst of its own three-game stretch, although not in as short of an amount of time span as LA. The Dynamo arrive in Southern California after two straight draws with MLS elite, Real Salt Lake and New York. Consequently, this is Houston’s third opportunity to prove the club that was considered of the best in the league just a short time ago, is back on track after a disappointing 2010.
Dominic Kinnear has added some new faces to the Houston roster in an effort to get back on top. Spainard Sergio Koke is fresh off scoring his first MLS goal and early MLS Rookie of the Year candidate, Will Bruin has already displayed that his ability to have an impact at the college level will translate to this level. Add in an up and down attacking player like former Rapid, Colin Clark and you can expect that this team will hold its own. So like most teams that come to Carson to face the Galaxy, Houston likely had this date circled on its calendar as an opportunity to gauge just how far the team has come a third of the way into their season.
From a Galaxy perspective, this is a chance to keep the home unbeaten record intact and add further distance between themselves and the chasing pack in the standings. LA has played more games that most of their competitors and that is why it is so important to win theses games at home. As we have seen in past seasons, there will be a rough patch in the road at some point during the year, and that is when a small cushion can come in handy.
Contributing to that rough patch in the road might come in the form of missing key players. MLS teams learned this week which players will be away on national team duty for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the Galaxy will have two of their biggest pieces, captain Landon Donovan and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for about another week before losing them to their respective national teams. Congrats to both of them for the chance to represent their countries, but both are very important players to LA’s success.
Speaking of missing key players, David Beckham will not be available to Bruce Arena for this game. Beckham was excused by the Galaxy to attend former teammate Gary Neville’s testimonial match in England. Honestly, I had mixed emotions at first about the Galaxy’s assist leader leaving in the middle of the campaign for this type of event. My initial thought is that Beckham should be here with LA fulfilling his commitment to the on the field. But as I ran it through my mind more and more, I applaud Arena and AEG for making the right decision.
Few people have known Beckham longer than Neville, having come through the youth ranks together an Manchester United and with England. More than just a teammate, Neville is one of the few that have been with Beckham during some of the biggest moments of his life, both on and off the pitch. Neville is not just another former teammate, but player that David has known well before he ever became the David Beckham we know.
Games like this, for your closest friends nonetheless, do not happen very often so it will be a special day for Beckham as he pulls on his old red No. 7, Manchester United shirt one more time in support of his friend.
Plus, he’ll be back on Saturday for the game against the Revolution, and you just know that he will be focused on putting on a good showing in that one.
The Galaxy have gotten four points on the road without him this season, and now they will be tasked with trying to get three at home in his absence.