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A Big Night, With or Without Becks

With or without David Beckham, the sellout between the L.A. Galaxy and D.C. United (ESPN2, 7 pm EST) is a fitting Thursday night headliner, says Ian Plenderleith of USSoccerPlayers. History says goals when these two clubs meet at RFK, which has been a particularly happy hunting ground for L.A.'s Landon Donovan.

Last year, Donovan's two goals lead the Galaxy to a resounding 5-2 victory over the home side. It was a similar story in 2005, when the U.S. national team striker knocked home another brace to win 3-2 at RFK. Donovan later admitted that he draws strength from the chorus of boos that rain down on him from the Screaming Eagles' faithful. He should be equally fired up to deliver Thursday -- in a match the Galaxy desperately needs to win to help turn its season around.

The big question for Coach Frank Yallop, Plenderleith says, is who to play alongside Donovan. Alan Gordon is the in-form striker. Newcomers Carlos Pavon, Chris Klein and Edson Buddle have yet to impress, but they should be fresher, which is important given the club's relentless stretch of matches. Meanwhile, Plenderleith says attacking midfielder Kyle Martino, who's been injured, "must" start if he's fit. D.C., meanwhile, could once again be without Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez, which means Fred would step into the playmaker role to supply Brazilian compatriot Luciano Emilio with chances. However, inexperience at the back could prove to be United's undoing -- especially against a team that counterattacks as effectively as L.A.

Read the whole story at USSoccerPlayers »

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