Los Angeles and New York City don't like each other. Both cities are the top town in their respective sides of the Lower 48, and nothing more than a little scuffle from controversial New York Red Bull Rafael Marquez to add more fuel to the fire.
Mike Magee's 15th minute goal gave Bruce Arena's Galaxy a 1-0 aggregate lead heading into the second leg of the 2011 MLS Western Conference Semifinals, which will be contested on Thursday night at the Home Depot Center.
Marquez and Juninho both were given post-match red cards for their involvement in the fracas and will suspended for the second leg.
Indeed, it's a huge price to pay, as Los Angeles's home field advantage is threatened by a void in the midfield with Juninho's absence.
The question now is whether or not the Galaxy can cope with Juninho unavailable for the pivotal second leg. That isn't to say they have had to deal with this before (read: CONCACAF Champions League).
But Marquez's absence improves the team chemistry for Hans Backe's Red Bulls, and the return of Jan Gunnar Solli increases New York's strength defensively.
The good news is that the top guns for both sides-New York's Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry, and LA's David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane-were not involved in the melee and will make the second leg intriguing nonetheless.
Even better for Los Angeles is that there is no away goals rule in the MLS Cup Playoffs, which means that a draw in any form will do for the Galaxy in order to progress to the Conference Final, which would take place at Victoria Street.
There won't be any snow down in Carson: both the Galaxy and Red Bulls were forced to play on a frozen surface full of indentations brought on by bulldozers that plowed away several inches of snow the day before.
If there is a lesson to be learned on Sunday, it's that cooler heads always prevail, and though most heads on both sides were cool in spite of the scuffle, New York could potentially claim the ascendancy.
Since this is a two-legged aggregate, I will combine my preview with my prediction. This will be a draw, with Los Angeles progressing on aggregate. It will not be easy having to deal with Juninho's red card, but they've had to deal with this before, and they can take solace in the fact that New York is no Monarcas Morelia.
Los Angeles Galaxy 1, New York Red Bulls 1
Los Angeles advances on aggregate 2-1
Kickoff for the second leg is scheduled for Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
INS AND OUTS
Youth Academy Update
The Under-12s had a double-header last Sunday. The Galaxy first defeated United FC 4-1. Daquan Dawkins scored a brace, while Owen Zaldivar and Lucas Rosales adding to the cause. Afterwards, they took out Nomads SC 3-1 thanks to a Rosales brace and an additional goal from Tristan Trager. These two matches were showcase games and had no effect on the SCDSL standings.
The Under-13s shut out CC Blues 5-0 on Oct. 22 the College of the Canyons. Jesus Nunez scored a brace in the rout. Other goal-scorers included Ateno Ajeakwa, Jesse Magellon and Rapha Diago.
The Under-15s took down Real SoCal 2-1 last Sunday at Los Angeles Piece College. Adrian Vera opened the scoring in the 25th minute with Collin Hossum delivering the eventual game-winner in the 32nd minute of play.
Here is a list of matches that took place this past weekend. Results from these matches will be posted later this week.
LA Galaxy U-12’s at South Bay Force Saturday, October 29
Game will be played at North Torrance High School in Torrance starting at 1:40 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-13’s at Exiles SC Saturday, October 29
Game will be played at CSU Dominguez Hills in Carson starting at 3:05 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-14’s at Exiles SC Saturday, October 29
Game will be played at CSU Dominguez Hills in Carson starting at 9:25 a.m.
LA Galaxy U-14’s vs. Arsenal FC Sunday, October 30
Game will be played at La Sierra University in Riverside starting at 9 a.m.
LA Galaxy U-15’s vs. Legends FC Sunday, October 30
Game will be played at Ayala Park in Chino starting at 9:35 a.m.
LA Galaxy U-16’s vs. Strikers FC Saturday, October 29
Game will be played at The Home Depot Center in Carson starting at 12:30 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-18’s vs. Strikers FC Saturday, October 29
Game will be played at The Home Depot Center in Carson starting at 10 a.m.