July 7, 2012
FEELING THE HEAT
Struggling Galaxy limp into Chicago
The story leading into Sunday's game between the Chicago Fire and Los Angeles Galaxy may very well be who won't be there.
|The Galaxy will be without star David Backham, but has former MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez back in the lineup.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
While a sell out crowd is expected for the 2 pm nationally televised (ESPN) game at Toyota Park, the Galaxy will be without their superstar midfielder David Beckham, who is sitting out a one game suspension imposed by Major League Soccer for “confrontational and provocative behavior” in a 4-3 loss to San Jose last weekend. Meanwhile the Fire will be without Designated Player Sebastian Grazzini, who on the heels of having the team confirm that it would pick up his option has taken indefinite leave to deal with a family crisis in his native Argentina and may or may not be back.
While the heat wave that has plagued the Midwest is expected to break in time the game, the heat will still be on for the defending MLS Cup champions, who are coming off two straight losses and now sit at 6-10-2, 20 pts.
Even without Beckham, the Galaxy threw shot after shot at the Union, but could not manage a win. Coach Bruce Arena has threatened lineup changes if results don’t improve, but that probably won’t include removing captain Landon Donovan, who has four goals and two assists in his last four games, and has a goal or an assist in nine of his last 11 games against the Fire.
One bright spot for the Galaxy’s uncharacteristically porous defense is the return of reigning MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez, who played the first half against Philadelphia but has not regained full match fitness in the wake of a preseason knee injury.
The Fire are unbeaten in four straight after a midweek scoreless road draw with Houston and are now 8-5-4 with 28 points. With Grazzini gone, the Fire is looking for a playmaker. For the last two games, recently-returned Chris Rolfe has filled the role and looked dangerous doing it. Brazilian newcomer Alex might also be an option.