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Preview: Philadelphia Union at Los Angeles Galaxy

Game time: Saturday, 10:30 p.m.

TV: The Comcast Network (TCN)

Undefeated Philadelphia Union get their first real test of the season as they go on the road Saturday to face the Los Angeles Galaxy.

U.S. international Landon Donovan is expected to return from national team duty to lead the Galaxy (1-1-1) against the Union (2-0-0), who are looking for the first three-game winning streak in the team’s short history. The Galaxy can use him, as they’re reeling from the 4-1 spanking Real Salt Lake handed them out in Mormon country. The offense has struggled in the absence of Edson Buddle, who left in the off-season for Germany, while David Beckham has yet to show he’s back at 100 percent, if he ever will be. Neither of the team’s regular starting center backs have featured yet this season, but Omar Gonzalez could play Saturday. Starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts has likewise been relegated to the bench with hamstring problems, and backup Josh Saunders could find himself between the posts again Saturday night.

For the Union, it’s been ugly soccer through two games, but it’s been effective. They’ve taken six points from their first two games to find themselves in first place. Still, they’ve done it against an expansion Vancouver team playing without four starters and a Houston team that still hasn’t recovered from the losses of U.S. internationals Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark to Europe over a year ago. The offense has been lacking, with a hobbled Sebastien Le Toux playing through injury and left-footed Justin Mapp likely to sit again with an injury of his own. New holding midfielder Brian Carroll has helped screen the back line, but partner Stefani Miglioranzi has duplicated that role, leaving the Union once again with two defensive midfielders and little creative presence on the attack absent Mapp and Roger Torres, who has been relegated to a bench role. The back line has been solid though, not allowing a goal yet, while new goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon has been up to par the few times he’s been tested.

Probable starters

Philadelphia

Goalkeeper: Faryd Mondragon

Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams

Midfielders: Sebastien Le Toux, Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi, Kyle Nakazawa

Forwards: Danny Mwanga, Carlos Ruiz

Los Angeles

Goalkeeper: Josh Saunders

Defenders: Todd Dunivant, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin

Midfielders: Landon Donovan, Juninho, Chris Birchall, David Beckham

Forwards: Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett

Injuries and suspensions

Philadelphia: QUESTIONABLE: MF Justin Mapp (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Carlos Valdes (R ankle sprain); DF Danny Califf (L knee meniscus)

Los Angeles: OUT: DF Gregg Berhalter (L knee MCL sprain); FW Adam Cristman (L knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Donovan Ricketts (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Omar Gonzalez (R shoulder sprain).

Prediction

The Galaxy win 1-0. The returns of Gonzalez and Donovan are huge for Los Angeles, but the absences of center back Gregg Berhalter and Ricketts still hurt. Still, the Union have shown little on the attack, and with Le Toux and Mapp hobbled, there’s little reason to think that will change. Two wins against two cream puffs are a nice way to start the season, but the Galaxy will show the Union that two defensive midfielders and no playmaker just won’t cut it against top competition.

(Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

3 Comments

  1. DeRo to Pink Cows. April 9th is going to be interesting…U’s new look back four against Henry, Agudelo and DeRosario.

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