BUENOS AIRES – Much has been made about the Los Angeles Galaxy's success while dealing with a short-handed lineup, but they'll actually be adding a player to the available roster this weekend.
Los Angeles (9-2-7) extended its unbeaten streak to nine (5-0-4) with a 3-1 win over Colorado last Saturday. The Galaxy received goals from Juninho and Chad Barrett after an own score earlier in the game.
The victory came despite the absences of Beckham (back spasms), as well as Donovan and Ricketts, who were playing with their respective national teams. While Ricketts is expected to be back in net, Beckham has been ruled out and Donovan remains with the United States, which will be taking on Mexico in the Gold Cup final Saturday night.
Donovan, tied for the MLS lead with eight goals, has missed seven games this season. Beckham, second in the league with seven assists, has missed four.
"Those are never excuses because it is a team game," coach Bruce Arena said. "We have to win games without Beckham, Donovan and Ricketts and that's what we did."
Despite the lack of star power on the roster over the last month, Los Angeles has taken a six-point lead in MLS as it tries to win back-to-back Supporters' Shields.
"Most teams are like, 'OK, you know, some of their best players are out. It seems like they might struggle,'" defender Sean Franklin told the Galaxy's official website. "That's kind of like motivation for us for guys to step in and play well. Guys have been doing that all year."
Ricketts' return makes Los Angeles even more dangerous. In 11 games, he's given up six goals while registering six shutouts - including in his last three appearances.
That could make it especially difficult for San Jose (5-5-4) to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City last Friday. It snapped a six-game unbeaten streak during which the Earthquakes scored 14 goals.
"We weren't going to win every game for the rest of the season, so it's important that we really lick our wounds and really understand some things that we could have done better, get back to work and hopefully start another streak next week," defender Jason Hernandez said.
San Jose has had to deal with the absence of its own American star because of Gold Cup action, as leading scorer Chris Wondolowski (six goals) has missed the last three games. Steven Lenhart has helped pick up the slack with four goals in those matches.
The Earthquakes will try to recover at home, where they have won three in a row while outscoring opponents 7-1.
This is the first meeting this season between these in-state rivals. The Earthquakes have won both matchups at Buck Shaw Stadium and have a four-game unbeaten streak at home against the Galaxy.