The FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil has begun in earnest, with preliminary rosters released ahead and national team managers making the final cuts down to a 23 man World Cup roster. This week is the first of several in which both the LA Galaxy and their opponents will have to overcome absences caused by this great tournament. Let us take a look at how that should play out.
LA Galaxy: Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez
Houston Dynamo: Brad Davis
The story of the Dynamo this season has but two chapters: with Brad Davis and without Brad Daivs. After two strong wins to open the season, the Dynamo went winless over six matches as Davis was held out with an ankle injury. He came back and they've recovered as of late, including a forceful shellacking of lowly Chivas USA. The club ran out of gas last week playing a double, so we might see a bit of a jury rigged side from both teams.
Not only are the Galaxy going to have to deal with existing injuries to Todd Dunivant and Marcelo Sarvas on top of the international absences, but Leonardo had to have surgery on a broken finger. He seems to be a game time decision, which means the Galaxy could have to replace as many as five regular starters with their starting XI this weekend.
LA Galaxy: Donovan, Gonzalez, Robbie Keane?
FC Dallas: None
Philadelphia Union: Maurice Edu
The LA Galaxy start spending their matches in hand with a double match week at the StubHub! Center, and they might have to do it without Robbie Keane. The current party line is that Arena is going to talk to the Irish manager and work something out and that Keane is likely sticking around. However, these things are never done until they're done so it's worth pointing out.
FC Dallas gets to travel midweek with no international absences, but they are a side that going into this weekend has lost four straight matches. The injury bug can be just as devastating to a roster as call-ups, and Dallas has lost key players in Mauro Diaz, Hendry Thomas, and Kellyn Acosta.
The Philadelphia Union roll into town after Dallas, and they will be without playmaker Maurice Edu. Their midweek win against Sporting Kansas City shows this side still has some fight in them despite falling down the Eastern Conference table. Edu was not available for the Union in that victory, so it'll be interesting to see if they've stumbled upon something.
Chicago Fire: None
The following week the Galaxy are off to Chicago to face old friend Mike Magee and the Fire. This is going to be a hard one. Double match weeks are a breeding ground for fatigue and consequently injuries, as is travel. Chicago hosts SKC this week, makes a small trip to Columbus during LA's double week, then hosts LA.
Chivas USA: Marvin Chavez, Oswaldo Minda (alternate), Erick Torres?
The World Cup roster deadline day is June 2nd, just before this match, but Marvin Chavez is essentially a lock to be on that roster. The Honduran coach has only called in 23 players for his preliminary camp, going to a full 30 on May 20th. Chavez was just acquired by Chivas USA from Colorado. The other LA side could also be without Oswaldo Minda, who is going to have to fight for a spot on Equador's roster while currently listed as an alternate.
I listed Torres, currently Chivas' best scorer, in the known absences as his loan expires at the end of May and while Chivas will certainly try to convince him to stay, he's publicly stated his desire to return to CD Guadalajara. That's a story to watch in the buildup to this one
World Cup Begins: LA Galaxy bye week
That's all the maneuvering we can expect in the buildup to the World Cup, knowing what we know of preliminary rosters, friendly call-ups, and loans expiring. The Galaxy resume play on June 28th. World Cup players will still be unavailable, but it's a bit too far away to speculate on how teams will look.