Conor Casey suspended, Omar Cummings on international duty. Landon Donovan and David Beckham away internationally too. Add to the mix that the Colorado Rapids have only one half-fit true striker available and, at first glance, you have to wonder where the goals are going to come from in tomorrow's game against the LA Galaxy. We should add also that the ill-fated Christian Gomez, who probably would have got some contribution in in tomorrow's game, turned his ankle in training this week and will not be making the trip. His days as a Rapid may be over.
So, where is the creative spark going to come from, arguably on both teams? I believe that the Galaxy will miss their two stars more than we will miss our absentees. Gary Smith, Rapids' head coach, said yesterday he was still undecided about the final line-up but was leaning towards playing just Tom McManus up front. When I asked how fit he was feeling after recent injuries, McManus joked that he would be good for about 20 minutes if Smith does go with one forward. "I'm not 100 percent but needs must," he said. The other option is to have Jacob Peterson partnering McManus and essentially keeping the same formation. "Jake has been looking very sharp and bright in training this week," Smith added.
There will be a change in defense. Kosuke Kimura and Jordan Harvey, the butt of some unjustified criticisms in the last two games, will continue but Ugo Ihemelu will definitely come in, probably at the expense of Mike Petke. That will largely depend on the fitness of Cory Gibbs who has been sick this week. The midfield will be made up of Pablo, Terry Cooke, Colin Clark, Nick LaBrocca and Mehdi Ballouchy and don't be surprised to see one of the Reserves such as Nico Colaluca coming off the bench for some pace and invention. The Reserves will be paying Galaxy Reserves immediately after tomorrow night's game so there will be many options for Smith.
The final eleven will depend on the formation with Ballouchy making way for LaBrocca in a 4-4-2. Whatever the final starting eleven, we are going to depend on much of the creativity coming from the flanks, particularly Cooke. How many times have we seen this season Cooke assisting for Casey? This time, it will be McManus on the end of Cooke's perfect crosses. Let's just hope the Scot has the confidence to turn some of those crosses into goals. It won't be easy coming off injuries and Smith noted that McManus may be suffering from a lack of confidence given his inconsistent run in the team. You'd never know it from the chirpy Scot who has a big role to play tomorrow and we wish him all the best. May the Flower of Scotland bloom and send them homeward to think again!