LA Galaxy expect tough rematch against Vancouver Whitecaps

CARSON, Calif. – It continues to be business as usual for the LA Galaxy.

They’re still dealing with injuries to their back line (A.J. DeLaGarza is the likely starter again at left back for Todd Dunivant), they have shut out two consecutive opponents and are about to play their third set of back-to-back games when they travel to Vancouver, British Columbia to take on the Whitecaps on Saturday at BC Place (4 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes).

The MLS season started more than a month ago, and the Galaxy have played just three teams – Real Salt Lake (twice), Chivas USA and Vancouver. Throw in back-to-back encounters with Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League and the schedule has been unusual, to say the least.

“I keep hearing about expansion and stuff,” defender Omar Gonzalez said with a smile. “To me there’s been only three teams in the league so far.”

Joked head coach Bruce Arena, “I’m really wondering what the rest of this league is like. I have no idea.”

The Galaxy do know the Whitecaps (2-2-2, 8 points) quite well. It’s a side that gave the Galaxy (2-1-1) all they could handle last Saturday at StubHub Center in Los Angeles’ hard-earned 1-0 victory, thanks to a goal in the 47th minute by Robbie Keane.

“I think it’s going to be a difficult game,” Arena said of the rematch at BC Place. “They have a good team, but I feel comfortable about our team; we get better every week.

“We should be able to deal with whatever they throw at us.”

Vancouver has won just once in 10 meetings with the Galaxy in all competitions, but that victory was an impressive 3-1 win last May 11 at BC Place, where Russell Teibert scored the first two goals of his professional career. The teams also tied in Vancouver two years ago.

Keane understandably feels Saturday’s game will be a real challenge.

“It’s going to be a tough game up there,” he said, “certainly when you get a result the week before.”

The rematch also offers Keane another chance to renew acquaintances with two old friends in Vancouver center back Andy O’Brien (Keane’s teammate on Ireland’s 2002 World Cup team) and Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson, who was Keane’s teammate on Wolverhampton Wanderers’ youth team from 1995-1999.

Robinson was quoted last week as saying the way to keep Keane in check was “to get under his skin.”

“It didn’t work, did it?” Keane said with a smile. “He should do it more often, then. I hope he does it again this week.”

Speaking of Robinson, the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan said he has been impressed with what the first-year coach has done with the Whitecaps.

“We expect we’re going to get an even better game from them Saturday,” Donovan said. “And if we want to get something out of the game, we have to play better, too.”