CARSON, Calif. – On Wednesday, the Seattle Sounders enjoyed somewhat of an advantage in facing a depleted LA Galaxy lineup after Bruce Arena chose to rest some of his stars. On Saturday, the New York Red Bulls will get no such luxury.
“We’ll put a good group on the field tomorrow,” the Galaxy manager told reporters on Friday. “It’s a game we need to win, so we’re going to push real hard.”
The Galaxy sit on 10 points, towards the bottom of the Western Conference table. With the defending MLS Cup champions needing points quickly, LA will almost certainly feature the veterans who did not make the trip to Seattle in a 2-0 loss to the Sounders. That means David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Todd Dunivant – who were left behind – should return to the lineup vs. New York, as will Edson Buddle and Mike Magee, who started Wednesday’s game on the bench.
Preview: LA vs NY
That shows little sympathy for their opponents, who have their own lineup issues. Headlining the long list of missing players for the Red Bulls are their two Designated Players: Thierry Henry, out with a hamstring strain, and Rafa Márquez, out due to suspension.
While Saturday’s game (5 pm PT, ESPN, LIVE CHAT on lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive) will be a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Semifinals, it may have lost some luster because of the aforementioned absences. But to Arena, most of that is inconsequential.
“It doesn’t matter, really,” he said. “No one cares about who you put on the field, they care about the score after 90 minutes.”
Not everyone on the Galaxy is pleased to see a weakened New York side, especially David Beckham, who has history with Henry dating back to their English Premier League days.
“Thierry is obviously not just a good friend of mine, but a great player and a player I'm sure all of the LA fans would have liked to have seen come here and play,” the Galaxy midfielder said. “That's disappointing, but it's down to his health now.”
Henry’s hamstring injury, which he suffered last weekend against New England, will sideline him for several weeks and Galaxy players are hopeful the Frenchman recovers without any major setbacks.
“When you see a guy go down in that way but then not be able to walk under his own power – usually, when you have a muscle strain, you can walk pretty OK,” Donovan said. “That was hard to watch. We’re all kind of hoping for the best.”
Regardless of New York’s absences, though, the Galaxy will be prepared for a difficult encounter.
“Obviously you’re missing your top players and your team is different,” Arena said. “They won a game without a lot of those players last week, so I don’t see it as being as big of an issue.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.