Preview: Red Bulls vs. Galaxy (11-3-11)

See how the Red Bulls and Galaxy match up heading into Thursday's 11pm ET match on ESPN2

LA GALAXY v NEW YORK RED BULLS
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS - SECOND LEG
Thu., Nov. 3, The Home Depot Center (8 p.m. PT; ESPN2/Deportes)

REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott;
4th: Ramon Hernandez

Game Preview: LA

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INJURY REPORT: LA GALAXY -- OUT: DF Sean Alvarado (R knee surgery); DF Leonardo (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (back spasms); DF Gregg Berhalter (R foot sprain); DF Bryan Jordan (L middle finger tendon rupture) ...  NEW YORK RED BULLS -- OUT: DF Chris Albright (R calf strain); MF Sacir Hot (R knee surgery); MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion)

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SUSPENDED: LA: Juninho (through Nov. 3) ... NY: Rafael Marquez (through Nov. 3)

WARNINGS (suspended next yellow): LA: Sean Franklin ... NY: Tim Ream, Thierry Henry

LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: NY 16 wins (1 SO), 54 GF ... LA 15 wins (1 SO), 53 GF ... Ties 6

2011 HEAD-TO-HEAD: LA 0 wins, 1 GF; NY 1 wins, 3 GF; 1 tie

AT THE HOME DEPOT CENTER: 5/7: LA 1, NY 1 (Donovan 41 -- Henry 4)

MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: LA 2 wins, 7 GF ... NY 1 win, 7 GF ... 1 tie

LA GALAXY

  • The Galaxy are unbeaten in their last five away playoff games, dating back to the 2005 postseason, since a 2-0 loss at Kansas City in the 2004 Western Conference final.
  • "I don't think we were too happy with the way we played. I don't think we played the way we've been playing all year," said Mike Magee. "We took our foot off the gas and we stopped passing. We didn't put away that second one which would have been huge. Even though we won, it's a weird feeling because we didn't play the way we're used to."
  • Josh Saunders was given the start in goal, his first career start in the MLS Cup Playoffs. His only other postseason appearance came as a second half substitute in MLS Cup 2009.
  • "Those were pretty much sure goals that he makes freakishly good saves on, so I'm pretty happy that he's back there," said Mike Magee. "Any time you have a guy like Donovan Ricketts on the bench, your starter's got to be pretty good. And that's obviously the case."
  • David Beckham set up the goal with his service, the third consecutive playoff game with an assist. "I thought he was great," said Landon Donovan. "I know the game here a few weeks ago they did a good job of getting around him and getting physical, but I think he took the challenge (Sunday) to impose himself on the game and I thought he was fantastic."
  • Magee scored his third career playoff goal, second-most on the Galaxy, behind the league's all-time leader in Landon Donovan. "As he has matured as a person, physically and tactically with the game, he has been able to accept a variety of roles. He has played now, first a goalkeeper this year, a defender, midfielder and forward. He is a very versatile and smart player," said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena.
  • Landon Donovan returned to the team after missing the final three league games with a strained quadriceps, while Robbie Keane also came back into the side for the first time since suffering an adductor injury Oct. 2 while on Ireland national team duty. Sean Franklin made his first start since Sept. 9.
  • "I give them credit; they came at us hard," Arena said. "[Thierry] Henry was a force all day. They have become a pretty direct team. And they are dangerous with Henry and Rodgers up top -- they just put us on our heels."

NEW YORK RED BULLS

  • When the Red Bulls went on their MLS Cup run in 2008, the started the playoffs with a 1-1 draw vs. Houston. New York is now winless in its last four home playoff games, since a 1-0 win vs. New England in 2005.
  • "It was a great performance, one of our absolutely better games by far, for a couple of months," said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. "We totally controlled the game, dictated the game. We had four huge chances to tie the game. To me, this is totally wide open. If we can perform like this on Thursday, we have won before in L.A. and we can do it again."
  • For the Red Bulls to overturn the tie, they will have to become the first team to defeat the Galaxy at The Home Depot Center this year.
  • "We just have to go and be the first team to beat them. ... (To turn it around) we have got to score a goal; we have to score a goal to keep ourselves in the tie. We are going to defend well, try to keep a clean sheet and try to get a goal," said Dane Richards.
  • The Red Bulls will be without Rafael Marquez after he was sent off in the fracas following the final whistle. "It's going to be a difficult task playing without Rafa. Even if Rafa was with us, it would have been difficult to play against LA at their place. ... But what we need to do is regroup and try and concentrate on the game," said Thierry Henry.
  • In the wild card match, the Red Bulls were without the injured Luke Rodgers. They were without the suspended Jan Gunnar Solli for the Galaxy match. "It puts a little pressure on us," said defender Tim Ream. "We've shown the past couple of games that we are up to the task and guys step in and get the job done. If we are without Rafa, so be it. It's just one of those things, we have guys willing to step in and get the job done."
  • The return of Solli to the right side of the back four could, actually, help the Red Bulls attack.
  • "[He's] definitely more of an attacking fullback," Backe said. "That can probably help us in our attacking game." Said Solli: "They managed to close down our right side a little bit more than maybe I was hoping, but now it's a new game and hopefully I can come and help Dane a little bit in the offensive parts and maybe the game opens up."