MLS Preview: Columbus Crew v LA Galaxy

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East meets West for the MLS on Saturday as Columbus Crew prepare to receive LA Galaxy at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The game will be one to remember as Landon Donovan will be honored by the opposing team before kickoff to commemorate the retiring player’s football career. Pleasantries aside, both teams will look for the victory. Galaxy has it in its best interest to extend their undefeated streak, and Columbus needs the win to get in better standing for playoffs.

Columbus faced a set back last week at the transfer deadline after news hit that the long-standing courtship to acquire Mix Diskerud had fallen through. Soon after the news broke, rumors quickly arose that suggested Diskerud’s father had influenced the U.S. national player to pull out of the talks and was unhappy with the terms of the proposal. However, both Diskerud and Columbus coach, Gregg Berhalter, quickly spoke out to squash those rumors.

On top of losing out on the chance to bring Diskerud to the MLS and fit him with a Crew jersey, Berhalter has another concern. His trusted pair in the midfield, Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani, are both one yellow card away from another game suspension. After the squad’s 2-3 loss to Toronto FC last Saturday, Columbus will want to bounce back with a victory. However, if either Trapp or Tchani get caught playing cautious to avoid a match suspension, the Crew may be facing yet another defeat on home turf.

The loss to Toronto has Berhalter concerned for his team’s ability to hold onto a chance at the playoffs. Currently tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, Columbus has only succeeded in winning one of the squad’s last five home matches at Crew Stadium. Berhalter remarked on his team’s overall performance last week, stating “We had a number of guys that had subpar performances, and you have to question why.”

Galaxy, on the other hand, is situated in a more comfortable fourth place position in the Western Conference. The team fell behind against San Jose last week, however, they were able to come back on two occasions to nab equalizers and put the match result at 2-2. Galaxy saw goals from star Gyasi Zardes and Omar Gonzales. Galaxy continues to see solid performances out of Robbie Keane and Zardes up top, and coach Bruce Arena is happy with how the squad has been performing. As such, Arena is likely to stick with the same starting XI that he has gone with for the past two weeks.

Probable starters for Galaxy’s 4-4-2 are Dan Gargan, Omar Gonzales, A.J. DeLaGarza and Robbie Rogers in back, and Stefan Ishizaki, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho and Donovan in the midfield. Arena will want to keep his dynamic duo up top the same with Zardes and Keane, and will in all likelihood stick with Jaime Penedo in goal.

While Galaxy will be looking to keep its undefeated streak going for a fourth consecutive game, Columbus will hope to break out of the funk that has been plaguing its team’s performance at Crew Stadium. The addition of Diskerud would have been a certain morale boost, not to mention a suitable counter for Galaxy’s strong midfield, however Columbus will need to focus on the players it does possess and try to utilize them effectively against LA on Saturday. The MLS game between LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew will take place at 4:30 p.m. PST, and can be viewed live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.

Commentary by Courtney Anderson

Sources:
Photo Courtesy of Bay Area Bias – License 
MLS Multiplex
LAGalaxy.com
MLS Soccer 1
MLS Soccer 2

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