D.C. United and the LA Galaxy square off at RFK Stadium square off during an international break that will keep Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes off the field. After last week's debacle against the New York Red Bulls, our predictions are more mixed; let us know what you think will happen in the comments!
With the international absences of Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, the Galaxy attack is significantly less dangerous. Keane specifically leaves them with far less whining, crying, and get-away-with-dissent-because-¯\_(ツ)_/¯, and the lack of Zardes means that the center back pairing of Bobby Boswell and Steve Birnbaum has much less speed with which to contend. I expect Alan Gordon and Edson Buddle to start for L.A., and no, it isn't 2010. The blunting of the Galaxy attack is great, because United's appears to be blunted itself. Despite the apparent dearth of quality scoring chances, I think one of Chris Rolfe's 4.5 shots per game is going to go in, and United is going to come away with a 1-1 draw.
I think the players in all black on Saturday respond from a listless performance last Sunday. They'll come out trying to withhold a lessened Galaxy attack while trying to put some points on the board. Still, I can't see the win yet because I don't think our defense is all the way there. Goals from Rolfe and Kitchen help us to a 2-2 draw.
Sometimes life hands you an opportunity. Getting to play the Galaxy without Keane, without Zardes, and without a cross-country flight is the kind of game you have to win at home. That's not to say that LA will be a pushover; their back four and midfield are still excellent, and those groups aren't going to be missing anyone. United has to produce their best game of the season, which sounds daunting but is at this point not a super-high bar to clear.
I think DCU will clear that bar, but by inches rather than feet. I don't trust the back four to post a shutout, but I think Chris Rolfe scores the first goal thanks to an aggressive United start. After an LA equalizer early in the second half, Steve Birnbaum scores the winner on a powerful header following a set piece. 2-1 good guys.
The game against the Red Bulls was really not great, and I don't think anyone was happy about it (I mean, duh). With this game at home, and with the Galaxy missing Keane and Zardes, I think there's a fair chance that the Black-and-Red pull it together and get a win. It won't be easy--playing against LA never is--but look for United's attack to rise to the challenge. That said, it's going to be close, probably pretty damn nervy at times, and not without a goal against. I'll go for 2-1 to DCU, with goals from Rolfe and Pontius (because maybe if I keep predicting he'll score, he actually will).
I have a hard time thinking that if DC can't put together any decent scoring chances on a young and banged up Metros backline, how are they going to do against an LA team that sure, is missing Zardes, Keane and Pinedo, but still has Juninho, Omar and a not entirely shabby Leonardo down the middle? DC MAY get 1 from Rolfe, but it'll be in a 1-1 draw, with a slight lean to 2-1 Galaxy.
Playing the Galaxy early in the season always worries me, and this is no different even without Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes. The Bruce always knows how to play against his old team, so I will go with a 1-1 tie, with goals by Alan Gordon and Miguel Aguilar.