After taking six points from three matches last week, Columbus Crew SC is on the road this weekend in Carson, Calif., for a clash with the LA Galaxy.
A number of key players will be missing from both clubs when the match kicks off Saturday due to injury and international call-ups, presenting opportunities for younger players to step up and get minutes in an important match at one of the toughest stadiums in the League — the StubHub Center.
Black & Gold defender Hector Jimenez — who spent his first three seasons in MLS with LA and returns for the first time since 2013 — says that although both sides are without important personnel, he fully expects his teammates to step up and get a big road win with just nine games left in the regular season.
“I think it's just knowing the fact you are playing against LA Galaxy — as you know they are the five-time champions — so it's always nice to be able to go in there and play,” he says. “So we’re looking to try and get three points out of this trip. They are missing some players and are we, so they’ll be a lot of opportunity for some of the guys that haven’t seen many minutes to step in and perform.”
Another member of Crew SC that returns to LA is Head Coach and Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter — who served as vice-captain for the Galaxy from 2009-11, as well as a player-coach for the club in 2011 under current head coach Bruce Arena. The Black & Gold boss says that he is excited about being back at the StubHub Center for the first time since leaving, but his focus is on having his team maintain its style of play on the road.
“The fans have been great throughout my time there, so I am certainly looking forward to it. I know Bruce, he a very competitive guy, and he’s going to put a team on the field that is going to compete,” he says. “They haven’t been happy with their last results, so it’s going to be a difficult game for us. For us, it’s about how do we continue to play our game even though it’s on the road.”
Berhalter added that he is aware of the challenge he faces this weekend with players injured or away on international duty, but assures that the depth Crew SC possesses will fill in the missing pieces and lead to a victory in Carson.
“With the international call-ups, a couple injuries, we’re going to have to play a different lineup than last week — and that’s fine," Berhalter says. "I think it will give guys a chance that have been working all year to get on the field. We know we have a quality squad, and now is the chance to show it.”
Black & Gold goalkeeper Steve Clark — who has registered eight total saves in two career matches against the Galaxy — understands that a west coast road match is a tall order for any team, but says Crew SC are excited and expect to leave the StubHub Center with all three points.
“Whenever you have a west coast road trip, it’s a challenge to go out there and get points, but we’re aiming to go out there like we do every game and that’s to take three points,” he says. “I think everyone is excited to go out to the west coast, specifically LA, and we’re looking forward to a good road trip.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s matchup of MLS originals is set for 10:30 p.m. Tune in to the game by watching The CW Columbus, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and BCSN2, as well as radio streams available on CD102.5 FM, La Mega 103.1 FM and ColumbusCrewSC.com