David Beckham won’t be with the Los Angeles Galaxy today when it visits Qwest Field, and Fredy Montero won’t be available to Seattle Sounders FC.
And while that loss of star power is disappointing to fans, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid is more concerned about the fire power that remains in L.A.’s arsenal.
“They’ve got a couple of very gifted individuals up front in Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle,” Schmid said. “And then they have guys who have a lot of experience and serve a good ball on the flanks in Eddie Lewis and (Chris) Klein. ... It makes them very dangerous.”
And while Beckham is MLS’ best-known player, Schmid said Donovan belongs in any discussion about the league’s best player.
“When Landon comes to play, there’s nobody who can do some of the things that he can do,” Schmid said. “His fitness level is superb. He’s technically very clean. He gets up and down the field.”
Donovan is the only player in the league to factor in as many as eight goals this season. He has either scored (five) or assisted (three) all but one of L.A.’s goals this season.
A converted penalty kick Wednesday at Real Salt Lake was the 89th goal of Donovan’s MLS career, moving him into sixth place in history.
It also was his 57th goal for the Galaxy, leaving him 13 behind Cobi Jones’ club record.
Meanwhile, Beckham remains on loan to AC Milan. He will rejoin the Galaxy this summer and is expected to be in uniform when the Sounders visit Los Angeles on Aug. 15.
“It impacts us a little bit on the planning side and how we can build our roster throughout the year,” L.A. coach Bruce Arena said. “... On the financial side, I believe it’s viewed as a positive for the league with David returning in July. I know that when he returns, he’ll make us a better team. Obviously, it’s not a perfect situation for the team itself having a player who’s probably only going to be involved in 10 games this year.”
In Beckham’s absence, L.A. has produced a one-goal win, a one-goal loss and five draws.
“They’re playing a style that allows them to stay in the game,” Schmid said. “That’s what every coach wants to do: He wants to give his team a chance to win the game. Right now, the style that they’re playing and the manner in which they’re playing gives them a chance to win the game.”
Though it has won only once, the Galaxy hasn’t lost on the road yet this season and has a five-game non-losing streak overall.
The Sounders will try to change that while playing without Montero, the club leader in goals, shots, shots on goal and fouls suffered. He is out after drawing a red card at Chicago. When Montero missed the Toronto game because of illness, Schmid moved Freddie Ljungberg from midfield into Montero’s forward spot, and the Sounders won, 2-0.
Ljungberg expects to remain in midfield today.
“Personally, I have absolutely no problem with (moving forward),” Ljungberg said. “I like to play there. But I would imagine I’ll stay in my midfield position to get everything right with the guys in midfield.”
Schmid rarely tips his hand regarding lineup alterations.
“We’ve got different options there,” Schmid said. “Obviously, we played Freddie Ljungberg there in the game against Toronto. Sebastien (Le Toux) played there in the Open Cup game, so he’s a possibility. We were concerned that Roger (Levesque) had injured himself on Tuesday, but he’s OK now again. ... We have to see how Jarrod Smith is. So those are four pretty good options, and we have (Sanna) Nyassi as well.”
SOUNDERS FC GAMEDAY
LOS ANGELES GALAXY (1-1-5, 8 pts.) AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-2-1; 14 pts.)
When: Noon, Qwest Field.
TV: KONG 6/16.
Radio: 97.3-FM, and in Spanish on 1210-AM.
Head-to-head: This is the first regular-season meeting. The Sounders visit Los Angeles on Aug. 15.
Statistical leaders: For LA, G: 5 Landon Donovan; A: 3 Donovan; Sh: 19 Donovan; SOG: 9 Donovan. For Seattle: G: 3 Fredy Montero; A: 3 Osvaldo Alonso; Sh: 18 Montero; SOG: 6 Montero.
Coach Sigi Schmid scouting report: “L.A. is an interesting team from the standpoint that they try and stay in every game. ... They sort of play it somewhat conservatively. They don’t push out real high and pressure you in your end of the field, although they will do it once in a while. But they try and give themselves a chance to be in a game, to hang around, and to rely on the individual abilities of some very talented players like Landon Donovan and (Edson) Buddle and Eddie Lewis, looking for a set piece, looking for a bit of magic from some of those players. So we have to be careful. We can’t get lulled in and get caught with too many guys forward at the wrong times.”
Notes: Montero is ineligible after being assessed a red card last weekend at Chicago. ... L.A.’s best-known player – David Beckham – is unavailable while on loan to AC Milan. ... Donovan is the MLS scoring leader, with five goals and three assists. ... The Galaxy is unbeaten over its last five games. Los Angeles scored twice in stoppage time last week to draw at Real Salt Lake. ... Schmid coached the Galaxy from 1999-2004. … L.A. coach Bruce Arena got his first coaching job at the University of Puget Sound. … The game is sold out.
Next: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, at FC Dallas, Pizza Hut Park, Frisco, Texas.
Don Ruiz, The News Tribune