David Beckham and Robbie Keane won't play against Sounders FC, while Josh Saunders will miss a second straight game due to personnel issues.Los Angeles will have to rely on the strength of its squad to continue its dominance at CenturyLink Field tonight.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena opted to leave David Beckham and Robbie Keane out of his squad for the trip up the I-5 to face Seattle, according to a report by ESPN Los Angeles. With a game on artificial turf in midweek and a third match in eight days looming against Montreal at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday, their absence isn't altogether unexpected.
The continued omission of starting goalkeeper Josh Saunders represents a more surprising twist. Saunders sat out Saturday's 1-1 draw with FC Dallas due to personal reasons, according to the club. The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday night that the root cause of his absence stems from his recent inclusion in the league's substance abuse and behavioral health treatment program, though neither the Galaxy nor the league have publicly confirmed that report.
Saunders' indefinite spell away from the side leaves the Galaxy in the capable hands of reserve goalkeeper Bill Gaudette. The former Columbus, Montreal and Puerto Rico man offered a steady pair of hands against FCD and supplies a fair bit of experience between the sticks. Saunders' indifferent form at points this season makes the task of covering for him even easier. If Gaudette can play a modest to influential role during his spell as the number one, he could even win the job outright over the next few weeks.
Beckham and Keane face no such fears over their one-match hiatuses. Keane, in particular, could use a game off to clear his head and recuperate his body after failing to find the net in MLS play during the past month. No player in Arena's squad can replace either Beckham or Keane like for like, but the presence of Michael Stephens in central midfield and either Chad Barrett or Adam Cristman up front ensures a capable MLS reserve to fill those breaches. Both players – fitness and subterfuge always permitting – should slot straight back into the squad for Saturday.
While the Galaxy will hope to overcome these selection issues to prolong a three-match unbeaten run, Seattle will try to use the uncertainty to snatch a rare win in this particular series. Sounders FC has won just once in six regular season tries against the MLS Cup holders, though a 3-1 victory in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match last August at least provides a reference point.
Seattle boss Sigi Schmid will hope to include Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales in his squad for the match. Fernandez has missed the past two matches with a right quadriceps strain, but he could feature against the Galaxy if he continues to make progress. Rosales suffered a right foot contusion courtesy of a Gonzalo Segares tackle during Saturday's 2-1 victory at Chicago and told reporters that he hopes to feature against the Galaxy.
A look at the other games on Wednesday night
Toronto FC at Montréal (8:00p.m., Rogers Sportsnet): The Reds take their desperate quest for a result into Amway Canadian Championship play against the Impact. Both teams face difficult fixtures at the weekend – Montréal travels to Los Angeles, and Toronto FC hosts D.C. United – and must manage their squads wisely in this first-leg tie. Impact boss Jesse Marsch told sportsnet.ca that he plans to field a full-strength starting XI for the match.
Colorado at New England (8:00p.m.): Conor Casey did not make the trip to Gillette Stadium as the Rapids attempt to build upon Saturday's 4-0 victory over Chivas USA. The prospect of playing without Marvell Wynne (right hamstring strain suffered during training on Tuesday) could make life more difficult against a Revolution side aiming to snap a three-match losing streak.
Vancouver at FC Edmonton (10:00p.m., Rogers Sportsnet): The Whitecaps travel to Alberta to kick off a busy month. Martin Rennie's side could play as many as eight matches in May if results follow according to plan. This date against an unfamiliar and unheralded NASL side provides the perfect opportunity to rotate the squad ahead of Saturday's visit by Western Conference leader San Jose and welcome Alain Rochat (left MCL sprain) back into the mix.
D.C. United at San Jose (10:30p.m.): Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop will likely welcome Ramiro Corrales into the side for this clash between two of the league's in-form sides. United coach Ben Olsen possesses the luxury of chopping and changing in midfield after the long flight – Andy Najar, for one, would probably like a game – as he tries to find a way to extend his side's unbeaten run to eight matches. Keep a keen eye on United's health issues in central defense: Emiliano Dudar's absence (left hamstring strain) could create avenues for Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski to exploit.
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