CHIVAS USA (12-6-4) vs. LOS ANGELES (4-11-5)
Thursday, 11 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Can Los Angeles do the same against its HDC tenants? Three weeks ago, in this same Thursday night national broadcast time slot, Chivas USA thumped LA's Team, 3-0, with two goals by Maykel Galindo, one by Francisco Mendoza, and Jesse Marsch's flying kick to the thorax of Dreamy David, er, Beckham. Red cards to Kevin Harmse and Alex Zotinca during a midfield melee triggered by Marsch's boot further memorialized this match in the legacy of Southern California sports and knotted the bitter rivals in their season series at 1-1-1.
Zotinca is still suspended for his head-butt, for which he received a three-gamer and was docked $1500. The Galaxy season has been marred by numerous injuries besides the twisted knee of Beckham; eight Galaxy players are listed as doubtful, but defender Troy Roberts and midfielder Pete Vagenas, who is reportedly being shopped around the league as the Sept. 15 trade deadline approaches, are probable. Right back Chris Albright is still on injured reserve recovering from a ruptured hamstring.
By winning, Chivas USA can climb atop the Eastern Conference and keep Los Angeles in the cellar, which in its expansion season just two years ago is where Chivas USA finished. That terrible first season and a reluctance of Guadalajara fans to embrace the MLS version of their beloved team has impaired efforts to draw fans, and prompted the dismissal of CEO Javier Leon in favor of former AEG executive Shawn Hunter, who had left AEG two months ago.
Galindo netted twice again Sunday as Chivas USA belted New York, 3-0, to run its unbeaten streak to five games and its home record to 8-0-2.
If ESPN has proven anything this year as it controls and produces MLS telecasts, it's that no method of hyping Beckham is too brazen. Halftime interviews, shots of Victoria and the kids, even more shots of his grimacing face and puffy left ankle, the list goes on.
Putting him in the booth while he's injured is a logical step and is far more justifiable than the "news item" that led the Dicks' Sporting Goods Halftime Report on last week's telecast. That "scoop" was an unabashed declaration Becks might seek a loan during the MLS offseason and perhaps give up a portion of his salary to do so, despite obvious indications, subsequently confirmed, the original Internet posting -- based on an irresponsible English tabloid piece of pure speculation - was, pure and simple, a complete crock.
As the Galaxy proved in beating Colorado, it does have more on its roster than Beckham and Donovan. Players like Cobi Jones, who assisted on two of the goals against Colorado, and Chris Klein and Abel Xavier and Joe Cannon are proud men.
The road back to respectability is still a long one, but your roommate's backyard is a good starting point.
One of the storylines prior to Beckham's arrival was: could he revive the Galaxy's dismal season and launch a playoff push? LA doesn't have Beckham, but it does have more games (10) to play than anybody else. If nothing else, it needs to be closer to its derby mate than 23 points.