CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano offers his Three Points to LA’s clash with the Montreal Impact. The Galaxy will be playing their first game in 10 days while the Impact are winless in four of their last five league matches.
TWO ABSENCES AND MAYBE MORE FOR THE GALAXY?
The LA Galaxy will have major absences this week as they will be without the services of forward Robbie Keane and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo due to international duty while Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez could possibly miss out because of injuries.
Both were forced out of U.S. duty with injuries as Gonzalez was forced to withdraw prior to the start of camp with a left hip strain while Donovan departed after the nation’s 2-0 victory over Jamaica last week with an ankle injury. Head coach Bruce Arena has told reporters throughout the week that he is “hopeful” that the duo will participate against Montreal, but that “nothing had been finalized” ahead of Wednesday.
With Keane and Penedo already unavailable, LA would enjoy a major boost if Donovan and Gonzalez can play, but if they cannot, Arena may turn to his youth once more. Goalkeeper Brian Rowe is the frontrunner to start for Penedo, but the other three spots remain in question. If Gonzalez is unable to play look for LA to turn to a center back tandem of Kofi Opare and Leonardo, who missed the last two games due to left adductor fatigue but returned to play 45 minutes for the reserves last week. As for the forward slots, Homegrown forwards Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal appear to be favorites to start if Donovan is held back.
WHO SUITS UP FOR MONTREAL?
The LA Galaxy may have several absences, but the reeling Montreal Impact, who have lost four of their last five games, will be without several key players across the field.
Montreal captain Davy Arnaud and center back Matteo Ferrari are each suspended due to yellow card accumulation while right back Jeb Brovsky is still dealing with a broken toe on his right foot. Those aren’t the only doubts however as reports out of Montreal have stated that center back Alessandro Nesta may also not take part in the match against LA. With many potential absences in defense, Montreal may rely on a youthful group that includes Homegrown left back Maxim Tissot and center back Wandrille Lefèvre.
Regardless of the absences, Montreal still poses a major challenge as they are led up front by forward Marco Di Vaio, who currently is tied in the league for most goals with 19 tallies. Typically played as a lone striker, Di Vaio has terrorized opposing defenses with his ability to sneak behind the back four and test opposing goalkeepers.
PATRICE BERNIER AND MARCELO SARVAS BATTLE KEY
Despite all the absences on both sides of the park on Wednesday, the match will likely turn in central midfield as Montreal’s Patrice Bernier takes on the Brazilian tandem of Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho.
Montreal has sought all season to control the pace of the match with Canadian international Patrice Bernier pulling the strings in the center of the field and helping to spring their pacey midfielders out wide. Bernier leads the Impact this season with eight assists, five of which have come on goals by Di Vaio, who will be facing the Galaxy for the first time in his MLS career. Although Montreal—and Bernier—have enjoyed success by dominating possession, they’re unlikely to have that liberty against a Galaxy midfield that will likely return Juninho from a right adductor strain that forced him out of their 5-0 victory over Chivas USA on Oct. 6.
Juninho’s return should provide greater space for Sarvas to roam across the field and place further pressure on Bernier, which would limit his time to create attacking opportunities. If LA can negate Bernier’s influence, it may allow the Galaxy to dictate the tempo and place pressure on the Montreal back four.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com