With the LA Galaxy taking on the Colorado Rapids at the Victoria Street Grounds during a FIFA International Break, the story of the day is International Duty; and it's a big duty. Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, and Jaime Penedo are all off on international duty with all of them playing for their respective countries yesterday. The Rapids only miss the services of Gabriel Torres, who is with Penedo and the Panamanian squad.
Although the Galaxy are without arguably the best forward duo in Major League Soccer, with Keane leading the team in goals and Donovan leading the team in key passes, there's still hope. When we mined the data earlier this week, Gyasi Zardes stood out as the player trying to be a pure shooter. His conversion rate has been the issue, but if Bruce Arena lets him loose LA will get plenty of shots off.
Badly missed shots are just wasted possession, but LA still have Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas patrolling the middle. As the US learned last night, controlling the middle of the pitch is the key to controlling the pace of the match. Juninho leads the club in passes, and is the other Galaxy attack with provider status. Sarvas leads the team in tackles, and the two of them will need to combine their powers to keep the ball in the attacking half.
The Rapids just had a nine match unbeaten run ended at the hands of Sporting. They're a dangerous team, and LA are going to have to fight hard to secure three points while missing so many key players. With Real Salt Lake off this week, LA has a real chance to gain ground on the Supporters' Shield leaders.