CARSON, Calif. – Saturday’s opponent for the LA Galaxy, D.C. United, have just three wins in 27 MLS games in 2013. The Galaxy won their third game of the season on April 20 in a 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City.
D.C. United (3-19-5) also have just 14 points. The two-time defending MLS Cup champion Galaxy (13-10-4, 43 points) earned their 14th point of the season in a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake on April 27. Lastly, D.C. United have scored just 16 goals while the Galaxy scored their 16th goal of the year in a 4-1 victory at Philadelphia on May 15.
Despite the disparity in records and statistics, the Galaxy won’t be caught overlooking their old rivals. In fact, they say looks can be deceiving.
“I haven’t looked at them extensively, but they’re a team that’s played better than their record indicates,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said after training on Wednesday. “And I would say that’s the same case with us as well.
Saturday’s game at venerable RFK Stadium (1 p.m., UniMas, TimeWarner Cable SportsNet, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT) will include a halftime ceremony in which former United standout Jaime Moreno will become the seventh player in franchise history to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Tradition. Arena will take part in the festivities.
“He’s one of the greatest players in the history of the league,” Arena said of his former player who helped United win four MLS titles, two U.S. Open Cup titles and is a member of the league’s all-time Best XI. “His name should be in there.
“What do they call it, a first-ballot Hall of Famer? He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer for sure.”
Pomp and circumstance aside, the Galaxy are approaching Saturday’s matchup carefully. With the Western Conference playoff race expected to go down to the wire and Galaxy in the thick of the postseason picture, it might be easy for them take United lightly.
But coaches and players assured that won’t be the case this weekend. They expect nothing but the best from a struggling team which has scored half of their 16 goals in the last eight games after scoring just eight times in the first 19 games of the year. Additionally, Ben Olsen’s side have been boosted by the recent returns of Lewis Neal from groin and abdominal surgeries and Chris Pontius from a nagging hamstring injury.
“It’s a young group,” Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza said of United, “adding some new, young guys to try and change things up over there.
“When you put new guys in they’re always hungry and always willing to fight. We’re going to expect a scrappy group who’s going to play their best game of the year.”
Arena is confident the Galaxy, who will welcome Designated Players Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane, as well as goalkeeper Jaime Penedo back from international duty, will respond in another of a growing number of crucial games down the stretch.
“All of them now are important,” he said. “There are 21 points out there. The old rule in our league used to be 40 points and you’re in the playoffs. I have no idea what it is this year. This year it could be 50 points.
“We’ve gotta win games, no question about that.”