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LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: No More Friendlies, It's Back to Business

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IJuly 26, 2011

CARSON, CA - JULY 24:  David Beckham #23 of Los Angeles greets Mario Balotelli #45 of Manchester City  during the Herbalife World Football Challenge 2011 at the Home Depot Center on July 24, 2011 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

One sentence of massive brevity will be ringing in the ears of both Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy and Tom Soehn's Vancouver Whitecaps FC as they head into this Saturday's game at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada:

No more friendlies, it's back to business.

For the Galaxy, there are two competition that demand their attention. First is the race for the CONCACAF Champions League crown, with matches against Alejualense and two other teams to be determined. Monarcas de Morelia is looking like one of those sides.

Then there is the ongoing competition in Major League Soccer. Los Angeles cling to a three-point lead in the overall standings with a record of 11-2-9 (42 points) and need a result this weekend against the worst team in MLS, the Whitecaps, who have a 2-10-9 record (15 points).

It's a battle of David vs. Goliath. However, Goliath himself is coming in not exactly at full strength.

David Beckham and Chris Birchall are suspended for Saturday's match, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez are nursing ankle and nose injuries respectively, and Sean Franklin may or may not start after the All-Star Game, also known as the incoming beatdown by Manchester United Football Club, barring an act of God.

The Galaxy do have at least one player that could pull a sucker punch or two, and that is Mike Magee, who scored in the Galaxy's eventual 7-6 penalty shootout defeat to Manchester City FC after a 1-1 draw in regulation.

“Something’s funny,” Magee told MLSSoccer.com's Luis Bueno. “Something’s fishy in my water out in Manhattan Beach."

Oh really? Do share, oh Magic Man.

“Right as it was bouncing to my chest, I already knew," Magee added. "[Chris Birchall] literally headed it perfectly, bounced up to my chest and I knew I was going to smash it. I was just happy it stayed in the stadium, let alone went in the goal.”

“He was one of the guys, too, that said it,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “We said in the huddle before we came out, ‘Let’s go for it, take chances, take risks.’ That’s exactly what he did. It paid off for him. He had a great shot, went over the 6'10" ‘keeper or however tall he was and it was a great goal.”

The young guns like Juninho, Paolo Cardozo and Miguel Lopez will also be counted on this weekend. Juninho was named an MLS All-Star ahead of Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game but will not play. That leaves the door wide open for some South American flair to turn up.

Vancouver do have two key players that are potential rock-slingers: Eric Hassli and Camilo Sanvezzo.

Hassli, the Frenchman, has been clutch as a scorer for the Caps, leading the team with eight goals this season while Camilo has recorded six. And none of those goals were scored in the manner of the backheel that Mario Balotelli, the Chad Ochocinco of Manchester City, tried to pull off last weekend.

The main provider? Mr. Davide Chiumiento, who has eight assists to lead the Caps. Other playmakers include Terry Dunfield, former FC Dallas standout Atiba Harris, and Nizar Khalfan, who have three assists this season. Watch for Chiumiento and Dunfield to direct traffic when Vancouver creates their sequences in the midfield.

The Galaxy defense need to focus their attention on Hassli and Camilo and limit the looks they will get on goal. In a league like Major League Soccer, any team can beat any team on any given match day.

Look for the backline of Jonathan Leathers, Alain Rochat, Michael Boxall and Jay DeMerit to try an neutralize the scoring ability of players like Magee and Juan Pablo Angel, who has been unable to find his scoring touch.

Goalkeeper Jay Nolly has a 1.42 goals against average, with 31 saves and a 63 percent save percentage. Nolly may have a 1-5-6 record, but lately, it seems that the teams lingering near the bottom saves their best games for those against the best in the league. Could Nolly deliver a breakout performance? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders will get another go between the pipes as Donovan Ricketts continues to recover from his broken elbow. Saunders has a 5-1-3 record, with a 1.09 goals against average and a 75 percent save percentage.

Important to the Galaxy's chances in defense is the health of Omar Gonzalez. Gonzalez did play in the friendly agains Manchester City and will be a game-time decision on Saturday. In the interim, Gregg Berhalter has done a fantastic job filling in for Gonzalez alongside Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza and Todd Dunivant.

Saturday's match will be a chance for the Galaxy to prove they can win with the depth they have.


Prediction


A close victory is in the books. Open, attacking football is the name of the game. Los Angeles need to be direct, they need to press, and they need to finish. Look for the kids in blue to see this through.

Los Angeles Galaxy 3, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by TSN.


Ins and Outs

Youth Academy Update


You thought that the LA Galaxy Youth Academy were done this year, right? Wrong. The Galaxy close their season with another tournament, the Generation Adidas Cup at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Action began on Monday, July 25 and will conclude on Sunday, July 31 with the Final.

Here are your rosters.

LA Galaxy Academy Generation adidas Cup U-17 Team:

GOALKEEPERS (2) – Grayson Cornwall, Danny Slepukhin
DEFENDERS (6) – Chris Antunez, Vincent Reyes, Nathan Smith, Oscar Sorto, Matt Tilley, Bill Tuloima
MIDFIELDERS (7) – Paul Arriola, Sean Dhillon, Grady Howe, Raul Mendiola, Willie Raygoza, Esteban Rodriguez, Sebastian Velasquez
FORWARDS (3) – Justin Dhillon, Angel Espana, Mario Rodriguez
HEAD COACH – Kenny Arena
ASSISTANT COACH – Eddie Soto

LA Galaxy Academy Generation adidas Cup U-15 Team:

GOALKEEPERS (2) – David Orellana, Michael Suchy
DEFENDERS (5) – Sean Fabian, Michael Lopez, Manuel Padilla, Troy Paulsson, Juan Reyna
MIDFIELDERS (5) – Miguel Lorenzo, Axel Mendez, Rolando Munoz, Juan Orozco, Mark Slepukhin
FORWARDS (6) – Joseph Barakat, Dylan Bielanski, Cesar Farias, Kouske Ide, Steven Martinez, Artuo Soto
HEAD COACH - Craig Harrington
ASSISTANT COACH - Gordon Kljestan

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