By Alex Simon
Tonight the Fire visit the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center. With the win and a D.C. loss or tie, the Fire will clinch a playoff spot for the 11th time out of 12 years. The Fire will be without many of their regulars, most notably Cuauhtémoc Blanco.
The Galaxy received good news yesterday regarding their DP (Designated Player), David Beckham. Beckham missed last week’s game against Columbus due to inflammation in his ankle, but is expected to start against the Fire. The Galaxy has a chance at something they have not been able to accomplish since Beckham signed with the team in 2007. Just like the Fire, a win would clinch a spot in the playoffs for L.A. pending the result of the D.C.-Chivas match.
Blanco did not even make the trip to L.A. This is the second consecutive match Blanco will miss because of his strained hamstring. Without him, Segares, Thorrington, and possibly Rolfe, it will be tough for the Fire to create offensive opportunities. The Galaxy had the most goals allowed in MLS last year, 62. This year they have been scored on only half that number, 31. A big reason for that is rookie defender Omar Gonzalez. The 6ft. 5in. Gonzalez has been superb each time I have tuned in for a Galaxy match this year. Fire will have to worry about Beckham’s free kicks and service, but most of all Landon Donovan. Donovan burned the Fire defense last time the two teams met. The Fire lost that August game to the Galaxy 2 nil, and I do not expect Friday night to be much different. Unfortunately, I favor an inspired Galaxy squad 2-0 against the banged up Fire.
Note: the only thing worse than a Fire defeat tonight, would be a Fire defeat plus Donovan getting hurt. (Knock on (Kerry) Wood) The U.S. visit Honduras October 10 for a crucial World Cup qualifier, and need a healthy Donovan.