Galaxy leaves Donovan home with strained quadriceps
With a win Tuesday over the New York Red Bulls, the Galaxy will clinch home-field advantage throughout the MLS playoffs. But it will have to earn that without captain and leading scorer Landon Donovan, who didn't make the trip after sustaining what team officials are calling a "mild right quad strain" in Saturday's win over Real Salt Lake.
Donovan was the focus of a physical Real Salt Lake defense, which repeatedly knocked him to the turf -- and eventually knocked him out of the game when Donovan had to be helped from the pitch in the final minute of regulation time.
Donovan, who helped set up the game-winning score in the Galaxy's 2-1 win, is tied for the Western Conference lead with 12 goals. Team officials said Monday he was left back in Los Angeles to have his leg treated and evaluated. After Tuesday, the Galaxy don't play again until Oct. 16.
The Galaxy will also be without midfielder Chris Birchall and forward Mike Magee, who also stayed home with injuries, while forward Robbie Keane reported to the Irish national team ahead of its upcoming international fixture.
Tuesday's match was originally scheduled for late August but was postponed by Hurricane Irene. As a result, the Galaxy will be playing its ninth match in 30 days -- a difficult schedule that may have played a role in Donovan's injury. But it hasn't hurt the Galaxy much on the scoreboard since it hasn't lost an MLS match in more than two months.
With a win Tuesday the Galaxy will clinch the league's best record, winning the Supporter's Shield for the second consecutive season. That will also assure it of home-field advantage throughout the postseason -- a plum reward for the Galaxy, which has yet to lose at the Home Depot Center.
-- Kevin Baxter