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Pachuca, Galaxy square off for $1 million prize
by Ridge Mahoney, August 29th, 2007 7:01AM

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TAGS:  mexico, mls

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[SUPERLIGA PREVIEW] The Galaxy is so badly banged up for the SuperLiga final Wednesday (11 p.m. ET, TeleFutura, MLSnet.com) against Pachuca it can't draw any confidence from its feat in the first round, when it beat Pachuca, 2-1, despite being outshot, 23-9. It didn't have David Beckham for that game, but it did roll out Landon Donovan and a suddenly sharp Alan Gordon. They scored the goals that downed the defending Mexican champion at Home Depot Center.

After losing to Guadalajara, an incredible 6-5 win over FC Dallas propelled the Galaxy to the semifinals against D.C. United. Beckham whipped in a free kick and sent Donovan free to score the clincher in a 2-0 victory. Ole!

Unfortunately ...

... the Galaxy has lost three straight league games and its defense can't stop anybody: 3-0 losses to Colorado and Chivas USA followed a wild 5-4 defeat to Red Bull New York.

Los Angeles, missing eight starters, started slowly last Sunday in Colorado and after a few fine saves by keeper Joe Cannon fizzled out altogether. Midfielders Josh Tudela and Mike Caso earned their first MLS starts in that game, and a pair of gaffes by defender Kyle Veris presented the Rapids with two of their goals. The Galaxy looked sadly inept losing to Chivas USA as the home team at Home Depot Center last Thursday.

Beckham sat out the Colorado game with a sore ankle -- back-to-back full games on back-to-back days on different continents will do that to a player -- and is not available to face Pachuca.

Midfielder Kelly Gray (calf), and defenders Ty Harden (hip) and Ante Jazic (ankle) are listed as out of action as well. Donovan (calf), Cobi Jones (hip) and Abel Xavier (knee) are questionable.

With playoff hopes all but extinguished, and a million bucks on the line, anybody ambulatory should be on the field to salvage something from the season other than a marketing bonanza.

For the Galaxy to pull off an upset, it needs blinders from Cannon and Kyle Martino, and sharp finishes, which have been as rare the past two weeks as acknowledgments of accountability from Alexi Lalas, by anyone.

Pete Vagenas isn't bathed in brilliance, but his experience in important games may help.

Defending on the wide HDC field can be problematic but Pachuca has the experience of that first encounter.

After winning three straight to start the Apertura, Pachuca lost its league match last weekend, 1-0, to Santos despite hitting the post twice. Attackers Christian Giménez, Juan Carlos Cacho and Damián Álvarez started the match on the bench and came on as subs.

Playing the full 90 minutes against Santos was midfielder Jose Francisco Torres, 19, a dual citizen who was born in Longview, Texas, and debuted for the first team last November.

Just about everything is working against the Galaxy for this showdown. Its home stadium won't feel so homey.

Ticket sales for the match, which is sold out, were cut off at 12,500 so as not to clog adjacent access roads and parking spaces needed for students attending classes and activities at Cal State Dominguez Hills. (MLS teams can build their own stadiums and still there are conflicts.)

Regular visitors to Home Depot Center may not notice much of a difference between the SuperLiga crowd and what passes for an MLS "sellout" at HDC, other than it may be much louder.



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