CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy return to action Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., where they will take on the Colorado Rapids (6 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes) in a Western Conference clash.
That is not a misprint. The Galaxy are not playing Real Salt Lake, Vancouver or Chivas USA again. They’re finally facing an unfamiliar opponent and they don’t have another bye this weekend.
“It will be like a normal year now,” defender A.J. DeLaGarza said with a laugh. “It’ll be good just to have a game, period.”
Added midfielder Baggio Husidic with a grin, “Five games and three teams. I think it will be exciting to get out of this rut. We’re all looking forward to seeing different faces and different stadiums.”
Actually, the Galaxy (2-1-2, 8 points) will be seeing some familiar faces in Colorado. One is forward Edson Buddle, who had two stints with the Galaxy and was traded to the Rapids (3-2-2, 11 points) in December of 2012 in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft and allocation money.
Buddle has 99 career goals; his 100th will make him just the eighth player in MLS history to reach that milestone.
Another is Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni, who played nine games with the Galaxy last season, retired and then took over as coach in March in place of the departed Oscar Pareja.
The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, who remains stuck on the MLS all-time record for goals scored at 134 with Jeff Cunningham, said it won’t take long before Mastroeni has a lasting impact on the Rapids, who are coming off a 4-1 loss to Seattle. Not that he hasn’t already.
“I think he’s done a really good job. Obviously their record speaks for itself,” Donovan said. “Long term, I think he’s going to really have an effect on this team. He looks like the type of person that can do a great job there. I think the players really respect him.
“The way he played, he was very vocal, he was a leader, he organized, he saw the game really well. There’s no way that can’t translate to his players. I’m sure we’ll see that as time goes on. I think as he gets more comfortable with what he’s doing he’ll only get better and better.
“They’re a good, solid team and I think Pablo has them playing the right way. “
The Galaxy are 10-16-5 all time at Colorado, which has won the last two meetings with the Galaxy, including a 2-0 victory last July 27 at home and a 1-0 win last Sept. 7 at StubHub Center. The Rapids are led by the likes of Uruguayan forward Vicente Sanchez (four goals) and Spain’s Jose Mari, who has two. Clint Irwin has two shutouts in goal. The Galaxy’s Robbie Keane is off to a fast start this season, with goals in four consecutive matches for the first time since joining the club in 2011. He has 38 goals and 22 assists in 60 career MLS appearances.