For Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy, the attention shifts from the Wiz[ards]...to Whiz Wits. As in a city blessed with cheeseteaks that are best made with Cheese Whiz and onions (hence, Whiz Wit).
The Galaxy will face the Philadelphia Union for the very first time on Saturday, May 1, at the Home Depot Center.
Arena himself welcomed the change of scenery with open arms. “Admittedly, we played poorly on Saturday,” said Arena during the team's Tuesday training session. "Despite the fact that you can complain about the field and it was a little slick and everything else, we weren’t good.
“You don’t ever want to play on that field in a game I think that means a lot because there is so much out of your control, it’s tough. It’s a tough venue to play in. I’m happy it’s out of the way and we’re out of there fairly untarnished. We didn’t play well so we need to accept that fact and move on from there.
"There’s no question about it. We have to get better this week like it is every week and be prepared to play a better game on Saturday.”
The Union are undergoing an inaugural year of growing pains, with a 1-3 record. Their only victory came against a struggling DC United side three weeks ago.
Despite the steep learning curve they are forced to adjust to under manager Piotr Nowak, they are a dangerous team when they have the ball in their attacking half.
Sebastien Le Toux is the Union's biggest offensive threat. Le Toux has four goals in as many matches. MLS veteran Alejandro Moreno, who began his career donning the Galaxy strip, leads Philly in assists with three.
New Jersey native Gregg Berhalter welcomed the new challenge.
"I think it's great," Berhalter said. "There are some real dedicated soccer fans there. Looking at the response to their first home game (at Lincoln Financial Field) was unbelievable.
"The goal is to get a concentration of teams in one area to get some rivalries, like they're going to do in the Northwest. It's what we have here with Chivas.
"You add Philly and Red Bulls to it, with D.C. not far away, and you start creating some interesting games.
"Having Philly is an important part of that. I like it."
Edson Buddle, who continues to lead the league in scoring with seven goals despite going scoreless last week, thinks highly of the Union's arrival.
"There's a lot of soccer in that area, so it's important," Buddle said during training. "I think the fans deserve it. It will be even better once they build their own stadium."
That stadium is PPL Park. Named after Allentown utility company Pennsylvania Power and Light, the long-awaited lighthouse in Chester is scheduled to open for business on June 25.
Buddle himself was looking forward to the first match at PPL Park on Oct. 7. "You're probably going to see a lot of fans from Philly when they play in D.C., and a lot of D.C. fans in Philly," Buddle said on the Union. "Hopefully there won't be any fights or brawls, but we like that as players, when fans are getting into it.
"It makes you play harder, especially if you're at home and you know the fans are behind you."
The Galaxy will come into the match shorthanded. Sean Franklin is nursing a left ankle sprain and did not make the trip to Kansas City.
Dema Kovalenko is also questionable (strained right hamstring), as are Leonardo (strained right quad), Eddie Lewis (left foot contusion), and Clint Mathis, who is recovery from an operation on his left knee.
“My observation with watching Philly play New York was that they outplayed them for 90 minutes and fell short,” Arena said on the Union. “They’re a good team. I was very impressed with what I saw out of Philly against Red Bull [New York] on Saturday.”
All right, who flipped the OFF switch on offense? Fess up. Thank you. Now that it's back to ON, I'm calling for goals, goals and more goals.
Expect the connection (you know what I'm talking about) to return, and Philly showing its meddle with some scores. Have fun with this match on May Day. Now, where are my cheesesteaks?
Los Angeles Galaxy 4, Philadelphia Union 2
The match will be televised on Fox Sports West.
INS AND OUTS:
Welcome back, Boca
Juan Roman Riquelme, Martin Palermo, Nicolas Gaitan, Gary Medel, Claudio Morel and the rest of Club Atletico Boca Juniors return to the Home Depot Center for a May 23 international friendly as part of their USA Tour.
While Los Xeneizes are not going to be relegated any time soon, they have not had a strong 2009-10 year, finishing 11th in the Primera Division Apertura and are currently 16th in the Clausura.
The plight of Boca was added as Alfio Basile and Abel Alves were unable to turn the sour fortunes around. As far as new manager Roberto Pompei should be concerned, the friendly is a badly-needed breath of fresh air.
Youth Academy update
Come down to Concordia University in Irvine to watch the young stars of the Galaxy Youth Academy take on the Irvine Strikers. Kickoff next Saturday in scheduled for 11:00 a.m. PT for the U-16 sides and 1:00 p.m. PT for the U-18 sides.
On Sunday, the Galaxy Youth will be facing the San Diego Surf at Titan Stadium on the campus of Cal State Fullerton. Kickoff for those matches are scheduled for 1:00 p.m. (U-16s) and 3:15 p.m. (U-18s) PT.
Currently, the U-16 side is 3-3-3 (12 points) in the SoCal Division of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15/16 West Conference. The U-18s are faring a little better, sporting a record of 5-2-2 (17 points) and sit third in the SoCal Division of the Academy's U-17/18 West Conference.
The U-20 men will begin their USL Super-20 League campaign on June 9 against Chivas USA. Kickoff for that match is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at the Bell Gardens Sport Center.