Plenty at stake in Red Bulls-Galaxy game
The Los Angeles Galaxy have won four straight and are on the verge of clinching the fourth Supporters' Shield in franchise history.
The New York Red Bulls would merely like to join the Galaxy in the postseason.
These teams meet Tuesday night at Red Bull Arena, with New York more in need of three points and Los Angeles missing star Landon Donovan.
The Galaxy (18-3-10) lead second-place Seattle by seven points, and will earn a second straight Supporters' Shield by winning Tuesday. This game was rescheduled from Aug. 28 due to Hurricane Irene.
"If we win in New York, we're there," Donovan told the Galaxy's official website. "We're close, but we're not there yet."
Donovan, however, didn't make the trip due to a strained right quadriceps, which will also keep him out of a pair of upcoming U.S. national team matches.
That could help New York (8-7-16), which holds the fourth and final wild-card playoff spot with 40 points in a crowded race. The Red Bulls got an 88th-minute equalizer from Thierry Henry in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Toronto FC.
"We had so many chances to come back into the game, - we didn't, but then we came back at the end. For us, it was an important point, chasing the playoffs," Henry told the Red Bulls' official website. "For us, it was really important."
Los Angeles is 6-0-1 since its last MLS loss, a 3-0 defeat at Portland on Aug. 3. The Galaxy would like to clinch the league's best record as soon as possible before encountering a hectic schedule due to their presence in the CONCACAF Champions League.
After this contest, Los Angeles does not play again until a SuperClasico matchup with Chivas USA on Oct. 16. But four days later, the Galaxy have a critical CONCACAF road game against Honduran club Motagua, and three days after that they finish the MLS regular season at Houston.
Los Angeles rallied from a halftime deficit to win 2-1 at home over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Chad Barrett scored the tying goal and the Galaxy won on Nat Borchers' own goal.
"Come the last (CONCACAF) game against Motagua or the playoffs, if you go down a goal, you need to know how to win games," Donovan said. "It would have been wholly unjust if we didn't get something out of that game. Credit to our guys for persevering and getting a great result."
The Red Bulls were also buoyed by the resolve they showed in coming back Saturday. Their 16th draw matches Chicago for the most in the league.
"To respond after being one down like that, I'm quite pleased with the performance," coach Hans Backe said. "The work ethic was phenomenal the second half and the way we controlled the game, the passing game, the number of chances, a lot of crosses, very, very close to scoring."
Even without Donovan, who is tied for third in MLS with 12 goals, there's plenty of star power in Tuesday's game. Henry is second in the league with 13 goals, including one in a 1-1 draw at Los Angeles on May 7 as he and David Beckham met in an MLS match for the first time.
Each team led its respective conference at that point, but the circumstances are much different now.
"Facing L.A. in a home game is going to be a lot of people with high expectations," New York defender Jan Gunnar Solli said.