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Struggling Galaxy gets another prime-time assignment

The defending MLS champions play host to the New York Red Bulls in a game to be televised on ESPN. At 3-4-1, the Galaxy has one fewer loss than it had all of last season.

May 04, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Galaxy midfielder David Beckham argues with a referee during a win over FC Dallas on April 28. The defending MLS champions are off to slow start.
Galaxy midfielder David Beckham argues with a referee during a win over… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)

The Galaxy goes before a national television audience again Saturday when it plays host to the battered New York Red Bulls on ESPN. But are Major League Soccer's defending champions ready for their latest close-up?

"We need to start showing people why we were champions last season," midfielder David Beckham said after training Friday. "At the moment it's not right at all. All the way through the team."

In fact the not-ready-for prime time players, at 3-4-1 after two months, have lost just one fewer game then they did all of last season. And after the Galaxy went unbeaten in its final three games in April, it took a step backward when it was shut out Wednesday in a loss at Seattle.

"We need to get back to winning games. Simple as that," said Beckham who, along with 31-year-old striker Robbie Keane and 31-year-old defender Todd Dunivant, did not play in the Seattle match, the second of three games in an eight-day stretch for the Galaxy.

The injury-plagued Red Bulls (4-3-1) could provide the Galaxy a boost in its effort at righting the ship. Although this match once looked like a marquee matchup, featuring the league's top designated players, the Galaxy's early struggles and a wave of injuries in New York has taken away much of that luster.

The Red Bulls will be missing several regulars, including Mexican defender Rafa Marquez (suspension) and French striker Thierry Henry (hamstring), who is second in the league with nine goals and third with five assists. But New York could have right back Jan Gunnar Solli available and may get as many as 25 minutes out of forward Juan Agudelo, who hasn't played since tearing a meniscus in his left knee while playing in the Olympic qualifying tournament in March.

But given the way it has played so far, the Galaxy would do better to focus on who the Red Bulls play and not who they're missing.

"It doesn't matter," Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. "Nobody really cares who you put on the field. They care about the score after 90 minutes."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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