MLS week 24 kicks off this afternoon when the LA Galaxy taking on the Columbus Crew on the road, broadcast on NBC Sports at 4:00 PDT. The Galaxy could leapfrog the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps with a victory, putting pressure from above on those two clubs for the first time in this playoff race.
Landon Donovan won't be available, as he's off with the national team in Mexico City. Donovan became the fourth player in MLS league history to record four assists in one match, setting up every goal in the Galaxy's 4-0 victory over Chivas USA on Sunday. The last player to accomplish this feat was Dwayne DeRosario, then with Houston, in the Dynamo's first ever match (April 2, 2006).
Not only is Donovan gone, but the Galaxy will be without the services of David Beckham for a second straight match after participating in the Olympics over the weekend. Beckham did not make the trip to Columbus, choosing instead to spend some time getting his legs back after extended time off.
This will also be the Galaxy's first match against the Crew since they signed Chris Birchall. The Galaxy let Birchall go in the offseason, but the experienced player was able to sign on with the Crew.
Sunday's match against Chivas USA was also the first time all year Bruce Arena was able to start the MLS Cup winning back line of Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Sean Franklin, and Todd Dunivant. In 2011 the Galaxy set an MLS record with 17 clean sheets and allowed the fewest goals in the league.
Looking forward to the Columbus Crew, the Galaxy are in a fairly favorable position. The Galaxy have won the last four meetings between the teams over the last two seasons, including a pair of 1-0 victories last season. Columbus last defeated LA on September 29, 2009, a 2-0 victory at Crew Stadium.
While Donovan is taking on Mexico, it's important to note that with 11 assists on the season now, Donovan is only one goal away from his first MLS double double campaign since 2005. Those four assists against Chivas also took Donovan to fourth all time in MLS assists with 105.