Toronto FC v LA Galaxy PreviewBy: Sairax | April 11th, 2011
Conference: West Position: 3rd
W-L-D: 2-1-2 (0 points, -1 goal differential)
Away Form: 1-1-1 (-2 goal differential)
Recent Form: DWLDW
Last Meeting: Toronto FC 0 – LA Galaxy 0 (June 26, 2010)
The big boys are coming to town. Toronto FC will play their first midweek game of the season against LA Galaxy at BMO Field. Try to spot all of the stars in the Galaxy. Look! There’s Beckham! And Donovan! Is that Angel! Oh look, the Rooney look-a-like that used to play for TFC! Currently, LA sit 3rd in the Western conference with 8 points from 5 games, while TFC are 4th in the East with 5 points from 4 games. This game will be the toughest challenge for the Reds yet. Will they be able to handle Los Galacticos?
LA Galaxy are another one of the original teams that have been in Major League Soccer since the opening season in 1996. They even made it all the way to the MLS Cup final in that first season. In their whole history, the Galaxy have won the Western Conference a total of seven times, more than any other team. They have three Supporters’ Shields under their belts and have won the MLS Cup twice while coming runners-up four times on top of that. Needless to say, they are winners, and they are certainly one of the top teams in the league still. Last season they were expected to make it all the way to the MLS Cup final after topping the Western Conference with the likes of English soccer star, David Beckham, and MLS All-Star, America’s own, Landon Donovan. It didn’t end up being their year as FC Dallas pulled off the upset in the Conference Final by beating LA 3-0 at the Home Depot Centre.
Last season, TFC had both Galaxy games early in the season, so it’s been a while since the two sides have met. LA’s last visit to BMO was all the way back in June of last year where the two sides played out a nil-nil draw. The stadium was pretty bare that day due to all of the chaos surrounding the G20 summit at the time. Beckham was nowhere to be seen, yet again, though he looks set to come to Canada on this year’s trip. Going into this season, there are high expectations for LA as ever. Beckham and Donovan are still with the club. Donovan has been struggling with fitness/tiredness, but it sounds like he will be fit and and ready for Wednesday’s game. Beckham looks like he will be playing as well and his presence is sure to cause us problems out wide and on set pieces, which are his specialty. He already has three assists this season. Even with those two players, the Galaxy still went and brought in another big name during the preseason: Juan Pablo Angel. He is one of the most consistent goalscorers in the league with 58 goals in 102 appearances for New York Red Bulls. If they can’t score on our leaky defense, I’ll be shocked.
In goal, LA have 2010 Goalkeeper of the Year, Donovan Ricketts, who is just the kind of crazy that I like to see in a keeper. They have solid defensive players as well in A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez. American fullback Todd Dunivant should also be starting on Wednesday. The Galaxy have played one more game than TFC but have conceded the same number of goals, though one was a controversial penalty against DC United over the weekend. I still think their defense will be tougher to crack than the ones we have played so far, but we have not been shy in attack and seem to have a few goals in us ourselves. With the TFC defense being so full of holes and LA having so many attacking options, we will really need to score at least a couple in this match if we are going to come away with anything.
LA Galaxy’s midfield and attack is a strong one with Landycakes and Becks, but there are other threats. Juninho was brought in on the offseason on loan from São Paulo and already has two goals to his name this season. Mike Magee scored his first goal last week against DC United off of a Beckham corner and is usually lively out on the left wing. Chris Birchall would normally get the start in midfield, but he picked up a straight red two weeks ago and I believe is still suspended for the TFC match. And how could I forget, the former TFC striker you either loved or hated, Chad Barrett. I’ll go on the record as being a pro-Chad girl myself while acknowledging he had his faults and was definitely being overpaid by TFC. He hasn’t scored yet for the Galaxy, but hey, when has that ever stopped an ex-player before? My guess is he will come back and score a hattrick because that’s how the universe likes to mess with Toronto FC.
Moving along, Toronto FC are currently on a three game unbeaten streak. Sure, there’s only one win in there, but it also means that Vancouver is still our only loss so far this season. We saw some glimpses of great play in our last game against San Jose, but our glaring defensive weaknesses were on show as well. Most of our players will be available so let’s see how wrong I can get the lineup this week:
Frei Borman-Cann-Harden-Yourassowsky Peterson-Maicon-Tchani Martina-Gordon-Stevanovic Bench: Kocic, Attakora, Gargan, Cordon, deGuzman, Zavarise, Plata
Bench: Kocic, Attakora, Gargan, Cordon, deGuzman, Zavarise, Plata
Our attack seems to pretty much pick itself these days. I expect a front line of Martina, Gordon, and Stevanovic with Maicon in the hole. Gordon has scored in his last two outings and it would be nice to see him start a little streak. We did get Gordon when we traded Barrett to LA, so a goal against his former team would be quite fitting, don’t you think? Peterson has been doing well lately so we should see him with Tchani solidify the midfield. Frei is a no-brainer in goal, but choosing our backline is the trickiest part. We don’t seem to have settled on a back four, or at least one that’s played a really great game. Cann seems likeliest to be at centreback, but will it be Harden or Nana next to him? Nana’s been subbed off at halftime two games in a row now. That can’t be good news for him. Maybe he will start there again and eventually be subbed off, but I feel like Winter might just start with Harden. He’s put Harden at rightback a couple of times now, but I’m just go on a limb and predict that he will have Borman and Yourassowsky starting in the fullback positions. Actually, I was a bit surprised that Yourassowsky didn’t start the last game against the Earthquakes because I thought he generally looked good against Portland. Was this Winter’s way of sending him a message to keep his discipline in check, or did Winter just want to try something a bit different? I can’t say for certain, but I think we’ll see the comically-named leftback start on Wednesday.
As I mentioned before, this will be our toughest test so far this season, and that could be an understatement. LA Galaxy won the Supporters’ Shield last year, which means they finished top of the overall league table, not just their conference. They have big players and they want to go out and win every game. There aren’t many teams better than them in MLS (I’d say Real Salt Lake are the ones everyone should be terrified of), so we can’t make these silly individual errors or leave strikers in an acre of space in our third of the pitch. The Galaxy are exactly the type of team that can punish you for stuff like that. Toronto FC just played in San Jose on Saturday, will face the Galaxy on Wednesday, and then host DC United on this coming Saturday. It’s a jam-packed week and we have to step up our game if we are going to get any points against LA. Can TFC rise to the challenge against the stars of the Galaxy? Can our defense go 90 minutes without giving the fans collective heart failure? Will David Beckham finally get his butt to Toronto? Will Victoria be with him? And can she give me some style tips? All these questions will be answered soon enough so be sure to watch!
Toronto FC v LA Galaxy will be broadcast on GOL TV Canada Live at 8:0pm ET
Don’t forget to follow Toronto FC Offside on Twitter for the latest news, links, and updates: www.twitter.com/TFCOffside