All across the land today there will be picnics and celebrations and fireworks.
But not all of it will be because World Cup hero Landon Donovan is returning to the Los Angeles Galaxy in time for tonight’s game against Sounders FC.
“There’s no ticker-tape parade, you know; he’s not going to be carried in on a golden throne or anything,” Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller said, when asked about the national hoopla surrounding the match. “I’m sure Landon, if he plays, will be Landon. We’ve all played against him in the past, and we’ve all beat him in the past.”
Donovan and MLS goals-leader Edson Buddle are both expected to return to the Home Depot Center after missing five games while with the USA World Cup team in South Africa.
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Donovan played every minute of the national team’s four-game run to the round of 16. In the loss to Ghana, which sent the U.S. home, Donovan became the nation’s career leader in World Cup appearances with 12.
And his penalty kick in that game was his fifth World Cup goal, also a U.S. record.
Buddle, who came off the bench against England and Algeria, returned to Galaxy training Thursday, while Donovan arrived Friday.
“Obviously (Donovan) is going to play – that’s why the game went on ESPN2,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “So, whether he plays off the bench or starts, he’s going to get into the game. For us right now, we just need to focus on ourselves. ... It being the Fourth of July game, (the stadium) is going to be packed. So we’ve got to be sure that we rise to that expectation.”
The Galaxy went 3-1-1 while its star duo was away. However, the loss and draw came in the past two games.
Even at that, Los Angeles is six points ahead of Real Salt Lake in the MLS Supporters Shield race. And that could give Galaxy coach Bruce Arena the luxury of not rushing his stars into action with too many minutes too soon.
“It all goes down to the day,” Keller said. “Sometimes there’s a hangover after an event like that: You’re still thinking what could have been. But I think for the majority, what we need to talk about is ourselves. Because if we play the way that we’re capable of playing we might not win every game, but we’re going to give ourselves a chance. It’s when we get caught up and don’t do the things that we need to do that we get ourselves in trouble.”
The Sounders don’t need any more of that, having slipped to 11th in the league standings after back-to-back losses to Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers D.C. United and Philadelphia.
And any hopes of a climb up the table depends on ending a defensive slide that has seen them give up six goals over their last two games – and four in their previous meeting with the Galaxy.
Schmid also must consider matters of fitness, as this will be the Sounders’ third road game in eight days.
However, that includes a U.S. Open Cup win Wednesday before a loud sellout crowd in Portland. So, Schmid hopes the Sounders will hold their poise as well before the Galaxy’s festive home crowd and the national cable audience.
“There are two great moments in the sport,” he said. “One is to fire up your home crowd ... and the other is to silence an away crowd. Our duty (tonight) is to silence an away crowd.”
Midfielder Brad Evans underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week. Schmid said he might be ready for ball work next week and could return to duty in time for the July 18 friendly with Celtic or the July 25 visit from Colorado. ... Schmid said it has become likely that one of those games also will mark the Seattle debut of Swiss national team strike Blaise Nkufo.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 email@example.com
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-7-3; 15 PTS.) AT LOS ANGELES GALAXY (10-1-3; 33 PTS.)
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m., Home Depot Center; Carson, Calif.
TV: ESPN2, Ch. 6/16.
RADIO: 97.3-FM (1210-AM in Spanish).
HEAD TO HEAD: 1-1-1 in MLS meetings. Seattle won last season’s match at Home Depot Center, 2-0. Los Angeles won the earlier meeting this season, 4-0, at Qwest Field.
TEAM LEADERS: For Seattle – G 5 Fredy Montero; A 5, Montero; S 35, Montero; SOG, 13 Montero. For LA – G 9 Edson Buddle; A 9 Donovan; S 40, Buddle; SOG 18, Buddle.
SIGI SCHMID SCOUTING REPORT: “They’re a team that puts a lot of emphasis on defending. They’re looking to defend, they’re looking to counter. They try to get through on the speed of Donovan and Buddle and then get some support players.”
NOTES: Donovan and Buddle will return to the Galaxy after missing five games due to duty with the U.S. World Cup team in South Africa. ... David Beckham could be out for the season due to an Achilles injury. Out for Seattle due to knee injuries are midfielders Brad Evans and Michael Fucito, and defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is expected to miss his seventh straight match with a quadriceps strain. However, forward Nate Jaqua could make his home debut after recovering from an abdominal injury. ... The league-leading Galaxy is coming off of back-to-back non-wins for the first time this season, and was shut out in each game. The Sounders are coming off of back-to-back losses and surrendered three goals in each. ... L.A. is 5-0-1 at home; Seattle is 1-3-2 on the road. ... Los Angeles hasn’t allowed more than one goal in any game this season. ... L.A.’s Bruce Arena will coach the MLS all-stars July 28 against Manchester United. He is a former coach at the University of Puget Sound and of the U.S. national team. Seattle coach Sig Schmid coached the Galaxy from 1999-2004. ... This game marks the MLS season midpoint for both teams. ... The referee is Steve Petrescu.
NEXT: 7 p.m. Wednesday, the clubs meet again in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila. Seattle returns to league play at 7:30 p.m. July 11 vs. FC Dallas at Qwest Field.
Don Ruiz, staff writer