CARSON, Calif. – The task is simple, according to midfielder David Beckham. It’s time for the LA Galaxy to start playing like, well, the Galaxy.
“We need to start showing people why we were champions last season,” said Beckham, who turned 37 on Wednesday. “There’s no need to panic yet, but we want to get it sorted as soon as possible.”
The Galaxy (3-4-1), coming off a 2-0 loss at Seattle on Wednesday, will get another opportunity to do that Saturday at The Home Depot Center (5 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com, lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive) against the New York Red Bulls (4-3-1), who could be missing at least a half-dozen starters.
Among those who definitely will miss the game for New York are Thierry Henry, MLS’ second-leading scorer (behind San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski) with nine goals and five assists. Henry injured his right hamstring on a non-contact play during a 1-0 victory over New England on April 28 and is expected to miss a month.
Also not available Saturday is midfielder Rafa Marquez, who is serving the final game of a three-game suspension after a tackle that broke the collarbone of San Jose’s Shea Salinas on April 14.
The Red Bulls, however, could be welcoming back defender Jan Gunnar Soli, who returned to practice this week from a strained left calf. Also practicing again was midfielder Teemu Taino, who injured his knee last a month ago and forward Juan Agudelo, who has not played since being injured while with the U.S. Under-23 National Team in March.
Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant, who along with Beckham and Robbie Keane was held out of the Seattle game, said it doesn’t matter who the Red Bulls will put on the field. It will be a difficult game nonetheless.
“We don’t know what exactly to expect,” he said, “but we know every time we play New York it’s a heated game. It’s a good game and two of the big markets in the league, so it’s always a big game.
“From that standpoint we’re not too worried about who they put on the field. We know it’s going to be tough either way.”
It’s been a tough season all along for the Galaxy. Call it a post-championship hangover or malaise, but Landon Donovan said it really hasn’t been that surprising.
“If you look historically at sports,” he said, “the year after a championship is always difficult, for a myriad of reasons. Generally there is some sense of complacency, that’s human nature. A lot of times when a team does that well you lose some players. We’ve been fortunate to really not have that happen. And other teams come for us. That’s the reality of it.”
Beckham went so far as to say the Galaxy took an almost lackadaisical approach during a 1-3-0 stretch at the start of the season. But an improved effort has been there lately, if the results haven’t.
“I think we were in the first few games, but that’s changed now,” he said. “The first few games we definitely were going through the motions and things weren’t right, but we came out of it a little bit.
“I think we’ll be fine. There’s still a lot of hard work to be done on the training field.”