COMMERCE CITY, Colo.—LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to LA’s match against the Colorado Rapids.
Saturday’s match against the Colorado Rapids will be an emotional one for Galaxy midfielder Pablo Mastroeni as he returns to his face his former club for the first time. But he’ll need to push those feelings aside as he looks to lead LA in what promises to be a heated midfield battle.
With Robbie Rogers likely out for another week due to a right hamstring injury, Galaxy boss Bruce Arena is expected to resort to the same midfield that bested Vancouver Whitecaps FC last week. Against Vancouver, Mastroeni was placed in a holding role, which allowed Hector Jimenez, Juninho, and Marcelo Sarvas to push forward and create on the offensive end. This quartet overwhelmed Vancouver’s three-man midfield, but they’ll have a stiffer test against Colorado’s five-man formation. With Nathan Sturgis and Hendry Thomas in holding roles, the Rapids move forward using three midfielders, which allows rookie Dillon Powers to create chances for other attackers as well as himself.
Maintaining possession will be key as the Rapids will attempt to overload the center of the park to create scoring opportunities. Look for Mastroeni to be central to LA’s efforts as he looks to disrupt Colorado when they go forward while also setting up attacking forays for his fellow Galaxy midfielders.
GALAXY MUST OVERCOME THE ELEVATION
The mile-high elevation in Commerce City has caused fitness nightmares for many teams in the past, so to avoid these issues the Galaxy must be mindful from the moment that they step foot inside Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Throughout the week, LA players have reiterated that a vigorous pregame warm-up will be important as they look to deal with the thin Colorado air. This type of preparation allows players to enter the match in peak condition, which should prevent any fatigue before halftime. Just as important, however, will be how LA enter the second half as the Rapids acclimation to the thin air typically allows them to make surges late as opposing sides become winded.
Look for LA to attempt to grab a lead early on and attempt to hold the result. If the match is an open one heading into the second half—when visiting teams typically start to break down—it could favor the Rapids.
YOUNG GUNS MUST STEP UP IN ATTACK AND DEFENSE
Due to the absence of center back Omar Gonzalez and the anticipated loss of forward Robbie Keane, the Galaxy will ask a pair of youthful faces to step into the fray against the Rapids.
Second-year center back Tommy Meyer is expected to fill in for Gonzalez, who is away on international duty with the U.S. National Team. Meyer has excelled in recent action with the Galaxy reserves and performed well the last time that he filled in for Gonzalez on June 19 as he helped LA claim a scoreless draw against the Portland Timbers. Whom he faces off with in the Rapids attack remains a mystery as speedy forward Deshorn Brown has started up top in Colorado’s last four matches, but Colorado head coach Oscar Pareja could opt to throw in ex-Galaxy forward Edson Buddle against his old club.
Meanwhile in the attack, forward Jose Villarreal is likely to reprise his role up top for the injured Keane. A week ago, Villarreal was dangerous going forward as he combined with fellow Homegrown forward Gyasi Zardes, and will be expected to shine yet again against Colorado. If Villarreal gets the start, he’ll likely face off against his U.S. Under-20 teammate Shane O’Neill, who is expected to see time in the center of the Colorado defense.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com