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MLS Thursday Night Preview

JuanPabloAngel (HowardCSmithISI)

Photo by Howard C. Smith/



Three of Major League Soccer's top teams will be in action Thursday night, as the New York Red Bulls welcome a short-handed Columbus Crew side to Red Bull Arena and FC Dallas welcomes the Los Angeles Galaxy, sans Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan, to Pizza Hut Park.

The Eastern Conference tilt (ESPN2, 8 p.m.) pits the top two teams in the table against each other, though Columbus will be without Chad Marshall and Robbie Rogers (national team camp) and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (suspension).

The good news for the unbeaten Crew (4-0-2) is that goalkeeper Will Hesmer has been upgraded from doubtful to probable in the span of a day. He has been battling a lower back strain.

New York (5-3-0), which has a one-point lead over the Crew but has played in two more games, will look to exploit Columbus' absences, but the two-time defending Supporters' Shield holders have enough depth to keep things competitive.

In the Western Conference matchup (8:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick), Los Angeles begins life without its two biggest playmakers and will rely on its stellar defense to carry the load.

The undefeated Galaxy (7-0-2) have conceded just two goals all season despite a rash of injuries that has stricken the back unit. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is listed as questionable, but Josh Saunders has proven to be a very capable backup if Bruce Arena needs his services.

First-year midfielder Michael Stephens figures to bear more of the burden in carrying the attack with Buddle and Donovan training for the World Cup. Mike Magee will have to emerge up top for the Galaxy to remain dangerous on both sides of the ball.

Dallas is missing a key piece of its puzzle, with Heath Pearce at national team camp as well. While Pearce excels at moving forward from the back, the Hoops' attack really needs to flow through Dax McCarty and Jeff Cunningham, though the duo will find it difficult to get through whichever foursome Arena starts in defense.

Predictions: New York 1, Columbus 0; L.A. 1, Dallas 0

Columbus' absences are too much to overcome, and Juan Pablo Angel slots home a PK in a game barren of many offensive threats.

Omar Gonzalez scores off a set piece, and Los Angeles maintains its stellar form in the back to remain unbeaten.


What are your predictions for each match? Do you think Columbus can hang with New York despite all of its absences? Who do you expect to pick up the scoring load for the Galaxy?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’d say the U-20 WC is the place to let some of that immaturity out. ANyway I don’t see that in him anymore since he’s taken a starting role with FCD.

  2. 1 goal in 17 games … maybe one day he’ll reach his potential. I’m not holding my breath. Does anybody remember that two-footed tackle he had in the U-20 WC …? Just awful. Lacks a little maturity for me.

  3. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of him. At the U20 he played out wide right? At 6’3″ shouldnt he be trying to play the Drogba role? Or is he like Cooper a big tweener? I have been impressed with his work ethic.

    Is Henry really coming the Red Bulls this summer?

  4. I think Brunner has really improved over the course of the last year. Now I think if Danny O’Rojo starts in place, then we may see Avi’s prediction come true.

  5. If you’re an up and coming player this is the chance of a lifetime with Red Bull. Hopefully we’ll see some of the young studs “take the bull by the horn” (pun intended) to try to win a starting spot. If getting this kind of a chance doesn’t get the fire burning inside you, you’d better look for another occupation.

  6. Knew someone would be so helpfully “insightful”, why I only included starters in that list and not the other players injured…

  7. I think josip’s opinon is the positive side of the consensus among FC Dallas fans. The other, less charitable fans generally say he will be good eventually, but let him develop somewhere other than our starting 11.

    He is huge, a terrific athlete, good with the ball, and (#1) really busts his butt. That, to me, means he will end up very good. However, Schellas can’t figure out where to play him–I don’t say this as a critique of either of them, that’s just what’s happening right now. He’s had some terrific plays this season and a sensational goal last week.

    I think he will end up in Europe fairly soon, but I’m not sure if he can really lay hold to a spot in the Nats picture any time soon. My guess would be sooner than later he finds his proper role and does it well.

  8. Lots of people have been talking about the Crew’s absences tonight but nobody is really mentioning how depleted NYRB are with injuries: Nielsen and Lindpere are both very doubtful (out according to some reports); Salou, Kandji, Robinson are out.

    Basically it will be a very patchwork group for both teams.

  9. Don’t worry Coach Hyndman, you can’t POSSIBLY fail with that many SMU players on your team! After all, look at all the National Championships SMU won…



    I have to go now.

  10. The Crew were missing Marshall, Hesmer, Schelotto, Rogers, and even Hejduk & Iro for a good chunk on last year. It will be a defensive battle like all Crew games but the Crew will win as long as Hesmer is starting. If Gruenebaum is starting, you cannot start Brunner. Too many liabilities if both Gruenebaum & Brunner are starting. I would rather see Hejduk, O’Rourke, Iro, & Padula start if Hesmer cannot.

  11. We really need to have a good game tonight to get out of this slump that we are in. Kinda worried about all the issues with injuries that RBNY has. Cant wait for this game!

  12. The bash brothers are gonna tear up NJ tonight. “Columbus’ absences are too much to overcome”, Laughable man!

  13. Dane Brekken Shea still has a lot of upside. He’s a 6’3 attacker with skill on the ball and uses both feet well. He’s just 20. I’d say he has a future in Europe, then the USMNT…but still a little while away, perhaps.

  14. Stevie, the day that I see JPA score a “golazo” at this stage of his career is the day that I buy you a couple rounds of tequila shots. Not happening. He needs to retire.

  15. Time for el angelito paisa to run free! JPA nets a golazo tonight, showing Henry that the NY attack is to be a partnership not French totalitarianist!

  16. How are people feeling about Brek Shea. Seems 2 years ago he was progressing nicely – since then I haven’t been overly impressed, though I haven’t really seen him play this season.

  17. Sign of the Apocalypse

    I was flipping through the channels yesterday and ran across Jim Rome. He was responding to a question of whether LeBron James would go to the Clippers. His response was that “Lebron was more likely to play sweeper for the LA Galaxy than forward for the Clippers”. And it was done without any apparent snideness. Could it be that some memos are being passed around Bristol that soccer is to be taken seriously? Dare I dream?

  18. The LA game is taped delayed out west. What are the chances that ESPN shows the score on the ticker, during the NY game? 1 in 1?

    Stephens has to emerge as someone who won’t give the ball away so cheaply, but he certainly has the tools needed. Galaxy are getting it done tonight, regardless of their missing talent


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