CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to Saturday’s match between the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids.
WHO STARTS UP TOP?
Bruce Arena will have to make, at least, two changes to the squad that played to a frustrating 1-1 draw with Chivas USA last week with forward Robbie Keane and defender Omar Gonzalez away on international duty. While both absences are significant, who replaces Keane may ultimately decide if LA can come out on top against the Rapids.
The Galaxy have no shortage of options, but the two likely changes include sliding Mike Magee alongside Jose Villarreal or opting for an all-Homegrown pairing of Jack McBean and Villarreal. A Magee and Villarreal partnership changes the Galaxy’s offense the least as Magee’s tendencies as a forward are very similar to Keane’s. The other possibility could see Villarreal beside McBean, who bagged a late goal in last week’s draw with Chivas USA. This partnership would pair the creative-minded Villarreal alongside McBean, who is a more traditional physical striker and allow Magee to move into midfield. Throughout the week, Galaxy teammates –including Magee—have given votes of confidence in the young forwards.
The Homegrown duo have had success together with the first team in the past as each scored a goal during their last competitive start together at home against the Puerto Rico Islanders in CONCACAF Champions League group stage last August. The Colorado match would be just the second start in MLS for both Villarreal and McBean and the first for McBean since October 2011. However, the chance to start and resume their successful Academy and Reserve League partnership is likely to eliminate any jitters that the youngsters may have.
SLOW DOWN COLORADO’S BROWN
For the Galaxy to get three points on Saturday, LA must shutdown the focal point of Colorado’s attack, dynamic Jamaican rookie forward Deshorn Brown.
Renowned for his speed and technical skill, the Jamaican has notched a goal and an assist in three appearances so far this season, including an impressive goal against RSL last week in which he was able to force a turnover from center back Chris Schuler. Not only must LA stop Brown once he gets the ball, but they must also cut off service to the forward as Colorado’s three-man midfield has been particularly effective in getting the Jamaican involved with piercing passes while on the counter attack.
With Brown’s speed likely to be a major factor, expect Arena to opt for a central defense pairing that places A.J. DeLaGarza to slide alongside Leonardo. No slouch himself when it comes to speed, DeLaGarza’s quickness will be key to tracking back to stop the Jamaican if he gets behind the defense.
OVERWHELM THE RAPIDS’ UNTESTED GOALKEEPER
Whoever starts up top for the Galaxy will have an unfamiliar target in net for the Rapids as Colorado looks set to start 23-year-old goalkeeper Clint Irwin in place of the injured Matt Pickens.
Irwin enjoyed a strong game in an 83 minute shift against the Real Salt Lake last week as the former USL goalkeeper made a pair of saves to preserve the 1-1 draw for Colorado after Pickens went down with a broken left arm. However, Irwin will have to put on another strong performance against a motivated Galaxy side eager to shake off a poor performance against Chivas USA last week.
Throughout the week, Galaxy attackers have stressed that putting pressure on Irwin will be key as they look to shake the confidence of the young ‘keeper. If LA can nick an early goal on Colorado, it could lead to a lopsided result in the Galaxy’s favor.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com