This week the team with the most potent offense in the MLS travels to Columbus to play against the team with the best home record. A must win situation for LA to remain in contention for the playoffs. Their last encounter was a thrilling one with the Crew coming from behind to force a 3-3 draw
Bruce Arena's tenure at LA seems not to have produced the much needed improvement in LA's woeful defense. They have given up 12 goals in his six matches. 54 goals given up in 26 matches would make any team head for the exit except that the Galaxy still have a slim chance of making the playoffs just because the offense keeps producing. 50 goals to be exact. Their key is to score more goals than the defense gives away. That is what happened in the win against DC United two weeks ago, their first in 14 matches.
The Crew have scored five fewer but their offense is far more versatile with goals coming from 14 different players. This is underscored by the fact that despite the loss of Schelotto, the team catalyst with 18 assists, they have still managed to win. They also have one of the tightest and cleanest tackling teams with Chad Marshall in outstanding form. Opposing teams have only managed 120 shots on goals and William Hesmer has been sold with 87 saves for an 1.19 average. Such balance on both attack and defense have given a MLS best of +14 in goal differential.
A shootout favours LA with Donovan, Buddle, Beckham and super sub Alan Gordon scoring in in clumps in past games. Donovan may become the first MLS player to record 20 goals and 10 assists which might give him an extra impetus. However the questions in the back remain. Arena has managed to settle his back four recently with Troy Roberts and Sean Franklin occupying the central defense and Ante Jazic protecting the left flank. Only Chris Klein on the right looks assured. Vanney has been used all over the map in central defense and left midfield. Josh Wicks has been inconsistent in goal and has given up 10 goals for a 2.22 average.
The X factors: Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Alan Gordon, Brandon McDonald, and Greg Vanney are a yellow card away from suspension. Guillermo Barros Schelotto could return in time for the match to help the Crew.