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Match Preview: LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire

March 3, 2013 (WEEK 1, MLS Game #7)
5 pm ET/2 pm PT (UniMas; TWC Sportsnet)

The two-time defending MLS champions get their bid for history underway at home as the LA Galaxy kick off the new season against the Chicago Fire at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy won the last MLS game played, in Carson last Dec. 1, a 3-1 win against the Houston Dynamo in MLS Cup 2012, the fourth championship in club history. The Fire are coming off a season where they also reached the MLS Cup Playoffs, falling to eventual East champion Houston in the knockout round.

REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Brian Poeschel; JAR (opposite): Anthony Vasoli; 4th: Daniel Radford
MLS Career: 232 games; FC/gm: 25.5; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 59; pens: 48



(37 meetings): Galaxy 18 wins (0 shootout), 46 goals ... Fire 15 wins (1 shootout), 44 goals ... Ties 4
AT LA (18 meetings): Galaxy 9 wins (0 shootout), 23 goals ... Fire 6 wins (1 shootout), 20 goals ... Ties 3

LAST YEAR (MLS): 7/8: CHI 0, LA 2 (Keane 24, 78)
• This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
• The Galaxy have a three-game winning streak in the series, dating back to the 2011 season.
• The Fire have not defeated the Galaxy since a 3-2 win at The Home Depot Center on Aug. 1, 2010.
• The Galaxy have come away with points on each of their last four visits to Toyota Park (three victories and a draw). Chicago’s last home win in the series came in 2008.
• Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. CHI: P16 W10 L4 D2 ... Frank Klopas vs. LA: P2 W0 L2 D0

As the 18th season of Major League Soccer kicks off, the LA Galaxy will looking to make history: Become the first club in the existence of MLS to win three consecutive titles. The Galaxy captured their second in as many years and fourth in club history last December with a 3-1 win against the Houston Dynamo. Bruce Arena is back for another season in charge, his fifth full season with the Galaxy, having brought the club to three MLS Cups in that time.

WATCH: The Scouting Report on LA Galaxy

• The Galaxy completed their preseason match schedule with a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids on Feb. 22 at Harder Stadium on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. Drew Moor gave the Rapids a 12th-minute lead, but Marcelo Sarvas equalized before halftime and Jack McBean scored the winner 10 minutes from time.
• Here’s the Galaxy team: Carlo Cudicini; Sean Franklin, Leonardo, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Michael Stephens (Jack McBean 71), Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas (Rafael Garcia 86), Colin Clark (Greg Cochrane 83); Robbie Keane, Mike Magee (Hector Jimenez 75)
• The Galaxy concluded their preseason schedule with a 5-1-1 record, two of those matches coming against MLS competition.
• “We've prepared everything and done everything that we possibly can do, to be honest with you,” forward Robbie Keane said. “It's gone as well as any preseason could go. Most important thing is fitness because it's all well and good playing friendly games and preseason games, but it counts when that first game comes around. We're ready. We're looking forward to it. ... Everybody wants to play the real games.”
• The Galaxy should have the services of nearly their entire first-choice team entering the season opener – with, of course, the exception on Landon Donovan, who is on a leave of absence. Jose Villarreal is with the U.S. under-20 national team and defender Tommy Meyer is slowed by a hamstring strain.
• “I feel good about the fact that we've made progress, we have a healthy attitude with the guys,” Arena said. “But once the season kicks off, as they say, stuff happens. So we have to see where we are, but I think we're mentally ready to start the season the right way, and I think we've made the kind of progress that we need to make, and hopefully that translates into some wins in the early part of the season.”
• In the absence of Donovan, Mike Magee is expected to be the first choice to partner Keane in attack. Magee was forced off late in the match vs. Colorado, but should be available for selection for the opener. “I think he'll be OK,” Keane said. “He got a knock, obviously, from the game. ... He'll be OK.”
• With Donovan and Villarreal out, if Magee cannot go, Arena has limited options. Gyasi Zardes suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot, which leaves youngster Jack McBean – who scored three goals in LA's preseason games – and rookie Charlie Rugg, who’s being converted to right midfield.

DF Oscar Sorto (12/11/12 - Homegrown); MF Colin Clark (12/14/12 - Re-Entry Draft Stage 2); FW Gyasi Zardes (12/20/12 - Homegrown); GK Carlo Cudicini (12/31/12 - free)
OUT: DF Andrew Boyens (12/3/12 - option declined); DF Bryan Jordan (12/3/12 - option declined); MF Kyle Nakazawa (12/3/12 - option declined); FW Pat Noonan (12/3/12 - option declined); FW Chad Barrett (12/3/12 - option declined); MF Christian Wilhelmsson (12/3/12 - option declined); MF David Beckham (12/3/12 - option declined); FW Edson Buddle (12/14/12 - trade to Colorado); GK Josh Saunders (2/22/13 - contract lapsed)

After two seasons of failing to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs, the Chicago Fire finally battled their way into the tournament in 2012 – though a home date in the Knockout Round did not pay off as they were eliminated by eventual MLS Cup finalist Houston Dynamo. Frank Klopas will be back on the bench for his second full season in charge as head coach, still with a winning record for his coaching career.

WATCH: The Scouting Report on Chicago

• The Fire put the wraps on their preseason match campaign with a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the last match of the Carolina Challenge Cup. Maicon Santos and Darren Mattocks traded goals 10 minutes apart in the second half for the result.
• Here’s the Fire team: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Steven Kinney, Austin Berry (Pascal Chimbonda 69’), Logan Pause; Patrick Nyarko (Yazid Atouba 69’), Jeff Larentowicz (Wells Thompson 76’), Joel Lindpere (Daniel Paladini 63’), Dilly Duka (Corben Bone 82’); Chris Rolfe (Alex 63’), Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 46’)
• The draw was enough to give the Fire the title of the Carolina Challenge Cup – which has often been a harbinger of good things to come in the MLS season.
• Klopas made a major change at halftime of the CCC finale, taking off Designated Player Sherjill MacDonald for Maicon Santos – who was acquired from D.C. United through the re-entry draft.
• "I felt that with Mac, we didn’t get him involved in the game and we were not able to find him," Klopas said after the match. "With Maicon it was different. He can hold it. He's got very good feet. His timing is good and even [Chris Rolfe] was a little bit better. He got more into the game.The field is going to decide who starts and who plays. The depth is good, the competition is very good. And there are different characteristics of players that depending on what we need, we can bring guys in who make a difference like [Santos] did."
• Two other slight injury concerns out of the CCC finale should not be a concern. Center back Arne Friedrich was held out of the match with tightness in his leg after playing the full 90 minutes at midweek, and left back Gonzalo Segares was hampered by a swollen ankle. Klopas said both will be available for selection.
• There will be a completely new look in the Fire midfield. Pavel Pardo retired during the offseason and Logan Pause has been moved to fullback.
• "It's going to be very difficult to replace him, specifically the quality but also the leadership on the field," MacDonald said of Pardo's departure. "It's his leadership. When Pável went on the field, everyone wanted to follow him and he's not there anymore. Somebody has to take that role."
• In their places, Jeff Larentowicz came in from Colorado and Joel Lindpere from New York.
• "I’ve felt Jeff has been very good [during preseason]," said Klopas. "Mentality. He's just very good with the ball and always, no matter what you do, the guy gives you 100 percent." Said Larentowicz: "It’s coming together. It’s not something we thought would happen right away. It takes a couple of weeks. I think that we’ve gotten a couple of results and not performed particularly up to the par we think we could be at.”

IN: FW Maicon Santos (12/7/12 - Re-Entry Draft Stage 1); MF Joel Lindpere (1/4/13 - trade from New York); MF Jeff Larentowicz (1/16/13 - trade from Colorado); MF Brendan King (1/31/13 - free); MF Dilly Duka (2/4/13 - trade from Columbus); FW Quincy Amarikwa (2/27/13 - trade from Toronto)
OUT: GK Jay Nolly (12/3/12 - option declined); MF Pável Pardo (1/19/13 - retired); FW Guillermo Franco (1/21/13 - option declined); MF Álvaro Fernández (1/25/13 - loaned to Al-Rayyan); FW Federico Puppo (1/26/13 - loaned to LDU Quito); FW Dominic Oduro (2/4/13 - trade to Columbus); DF Tony Walls (2/22/13 - waived)

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