Match Preview Presented by 04 Water: LA Galaxy ready to renew rivalry with D.C. United

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Bruce Arena said he always enjoys going back to the nation’s capitol. And well he should, considering he coached D.C. United for three seasons there and guided the club to a pair of MLS Cups.

Revisiting Washington, D.C.’s historic RFK Stadium, however, is another matter. But that’s where the Galaxy head coach and his players will be this weekend when the short-handed Galaxy (1-0-2) take on D.C. United (1-0-1) on Saturday (4 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes).

The defending champions will be without goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, forward Gyasi Zardes and striker Robbie Keane, all of whom were called up for national-team duties (Panama, the U.S. and Ireland, respectively).

The circumstances may not be ideal with a sizeable lineup reshuffling in order, but Arena will enjoy seeing old acquaintances nonetheless.

“I like going back to D.C.,” Arena said after training this week. “I’m not sure I like going back to RFK. That’s getting a little beat up. It is a little beat up, I should say?

“I just think D.C. is a great city, I’ve had great experiences there. I have friends still there, a lot of connections. I like to go back. But I only get to go back when we play a game there.”

The Galaxy’s Stefan Ishizaki has never been to RFK and said he hasn’t heard much about the stadium, which opened in 1961.

“Nothing really,” he said. “All I know is they’re a good home team and we gotta go there and get some points.”

Galaxy teammate Alan Gordon smiled when asked for his impressions of RFK.

“Old school, history. Let’s put it there,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of history. It’s not the prettiest stadium, let’s say that.

“The stadium’s nothing special, but we can expect a tough game there.”

This could be one of the Galaxy’s last visits to RFK, considering the D.C. council recently gave final approval for construction of a new stadium at Buzzard Point, located in the southwest portion of the city. Ground has yet to be broken, but United officials hope to have it opened by the start of the 2017 season.

The Galaxy, by the way, have not lost at RFK Stadium since 2008. The last meeting there between the teams ended in a 2-2 tie on Sept. 24, 2013.

Arena also will be running into an old friend in D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen, whom Arena recruited when he coached at the University of Virginia. Olsen took over as United’s head coach in 2010 and orchestrated an historic turnaround that culminated with an Eastern Conference championship last season, just one year after the club finished with the league’s worst record.

“He’s a first-class guy,” Arena said. “He was first class at 17 years old. Nothing’s surprising. Twenty years later he remains that kind of quality person. I told him the unfortunate part is he’s probably going to end up coaching D.C. United for 30 years.

“They love him so much they’ll never get rid of him.”

Arena said he hopes to have a few more questions answered about his team this weekend. Or the rest of the league, for that matter.

“I don’t think anyone’s proven to be a good team or a bad team at this point,” he said. “That’s the way it is. A lot of unknowns right now.”

D.C. UNITED vs. LA GALAXY
RFK STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
March 28, 2015 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #30)
4 p.m. PT (MLS LIVE)

A pair of clubs who have had a long and storied rivalry throughout the history of Major League Soccer meet for the only time this year when D.C. United play host to the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. United return home off their first defeat of the season, falling 2-0 at the New York Red Bulls last weekend. The Galaxy are still undefeated on the new campaign, following their 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo last weekend at StubHub Center.

  • United lost their first league match of the season, falling 2-0 to archrivals New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.
  • The Galaxy are still undefeated on the new season, but played to a second consecutive draw in their 1-1 result with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at StubHub Center. Jose Villarreal recorded an assist for a second consecutive match after scoring in the season opener, setting up Robbie Keane’s second goal of the season.
  • The Galaxy won the lone meeting between the teams last year, a 4-1 win Aug. 27 at StubHub Center, extending their home undefeated streak vs. United to nine years and eight matches.
  • The Revolution have won the last two meetings between the teams over the last two seasons, including a 2-1 win at Buck Shaw Stadium last year in the only match between the clubs.United have not defeated the Galaxy at RFK Stadium since 2008. The Galaxy have won one of the four meetings in Washington since, with three draws.

REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. AR1 (bench): Ian Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Danny Thornberry; 4th: Mark Kadlecik
MLS Career: 42 games; FC/gm: 25.7; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 12; pens: 12

SUSPENDED: DC: Fabian Espindola (through April 18)
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: Gyasi Zardes (USA; vs DEN 3/25, vs SUI 3/31); Robbie Keane (IRL; vs POL 3/29; Jaime Penedo (PAN; vs TRI 3/27, vs CRC 3/31); Oscar Sorto (U.S. U-23); Bradford Jamieson IV (U.S. U-20)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (41 meetings): United 13 wins (1 shootout), 52 goals … Galaxy 19 wins (0 shootout), 67 goals … Ties 9
AT RFK (21 meetings): United 8 wins (0 shootout), 33 goals … Galaxy 9 wins (0 shootout), 36 goals … Ties 4

LAST YEAR (MLS)
8/27: LA 4, DC 1 (Gordon 2; Gonzalez 25; Husidic 46+; Donovan 75 – own goal 58)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The Galaxy have a 10-game undefeated streak alive vs. United, dating back to 2008. The Galaxy have won five of the matches since, with five draws.
  • The Galaxy won the lone meeting between the teams last year, a 4-1 win Aug. 27 at StubHub Center, extending their home undefeated streak vs. United to nine years and eight matches.
  • United have not defeated the Galaxy at RFK Stadium since 2008. The Galaxy have won one of the four meetings in Washington since, with three draws.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. NY: P6 W0 L3 D3 … Bruce Arena vs. DC: P15 W6 L3 D6

CHECK OUT THE INJURY REPORT HEADING INTO THE MATCH

CHECK OUT THE DISCIPLINARY REPORT HEADING INTO THE MATCH

UNITED VOW TO DITCH PASSIVE TENDENCIES BEHIND AGAINST GALAXY

BUDDLE READY TO FILL IN FOR ABSENT GALAXY FORWARDS KEANE, ZARDES

VILLARREAL REPORTEDLY TURNS DOWN US U-23 CALL-UP TO STAY WITH GALAXY