Donovan Ricketts ought to return to the Galaxy lineup Saturday afternoon in San Jose against the Earthquakes after missing three games, none of them losses, while leading Jamaica into the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals.
The achievement was more impressive than it sounds. The Reggae Boyz stomped the competition in Group B and headed to the knockout stage as one of two perfect sides, along with Mexico. But there they had to go against the U.S., and the big goalkeeper was the difference between the Americans' 2-0 victory and an eight- or nine-goal blowout.
His return certainly strengthens the Galaxy (9-2-7), but it's not as if goalkeeping was a problem while he was gone. Backup Josh Saunders has been solid in seven appearances, but Ricketts is the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and is atop the league with a 0.55 goals-against average.
“He's important for us,” forward Juan Pablo Angel said this week. “He's the best goalkeeper in the league, and it's good to have him back.”
Whether David Beckham will be available is another matter. The English midfielder missed last week's game at Colorado because of back spasms -- the Galaxy was fined $5,000 Friday for not including him on their injury report -- and he's listed as questionable this week.
The Galaxy don't announce their travel roster until just before game time, but coach Bruce Arena said Thursday it was likely Beckham was “going to be out this weekend.”
WORTH NOTING: The Galaxy is looking to extend their unbeaten streak to 10 games, which would be the longest in MLS this season. … L.A. has never won at Buck Shaw Stadium and are winless against the Quakes since summer 2008. … San Jose (5-5-4) has a three-game home winning streak, with victories over Houston, New England and Columbus. … The Galaxy leads the overall league series, 24-15-7, with a 4-1 advantage on the old shootout. (So 20-14-12 on the field.). … The Galaxy has three home games on the horizon: July 4 vs. Seattle, July 9 vs. Chicago and July 20 vs. Columbus. … San Jose visits Chivas USA on July 6. … The Galaxy extended defender A.J. DeLaGarza's contract, but did not say for how long. … L.A. captain Landon Donovan and former Galaxy forward Edson Buddle are up for the 2011 Espy Award for Best MLS Player. San Jose's Chris Wondolowski and FC Dallas' David Ferreira, the reigning league MVP, also are nominated. Donovan has won five Espys. This year's ceremonies are July 13 at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live.
MISSING: Donovan will be at the Rose Bowl, looking to lead the U.S. past Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. … Forward Jack McBean is with the U.S. team for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. … Center backs Leonardo and Sean Alvarado are out for the year with torn knee ligaments. ... Defender Frankie Hejduk (ankle inflammation) joins Beckham as questionable.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
English-born Canadian defender Frank Yallop enjoyed a productive career in his native land, with 13 seasons at Ipswich Town, before wrapping up in MLS and going into coaching. He guided the Earthquakes to two MLS Cup titles, in 2001 and 2003, took on Canada's national team for a spell, was in charge of the Galaxy for a season and a half, and returned to San Jose with the rebirth of the Quakes.
Three key players
Big forward Steven Lenhart, acquired in a January trade with Columbus, is a menace in the box with a nose for the net. After returning from injury, he has four goals this month, including a hat trick June 11 against D.C. United.
Once one of American soccer's most promising young players, Bobby Convey has reinvented himself since returning from five rather unsatisfying seasons in England. The left-sided winger, MLS's Comeback Player of the Year last season, fuels the Quakes' flank attack.
English midfielder Simon Dawkins, who arrived in March on loan from Tottenham, has quickly become the Quakes' most influential player, an effective attacker who can score and create for teammates.
The Quakes' six-game unbeaten streak was halted last weekend at Sporting Kansas City, which picked up its first victory in its new stadium. Wondolowski's absence takes a lot away from the attack, but Lenhart's return to form and Dawkins' return from injury have provided a spark in his absence, although they couldn't find the net in K.C. They're in a tough stretch of games, with New York and Philadelphia visiting the next two weekends, and need another streak to climb closer to the first tier of Western Conference teams.
Lenhart (Yorba Linda) played at Esperanza High School in Anaheim and Azusa Pacific University. … Big defender Bobby Burling went to school at Loyola Marymount and spent two seasons with Chivas USA. … Defender Jason Hernandez played 53 games for Chivas in 2006-07. … Defender/midfielder Brandon McDonald made 10 starts as a rookie with the Galaxy in 2008. … Midfielder Rafael Baca (Lawndale), still unsigned but with the club, played at Animo Leadership High School in Inglewood and at Loyola Marymount. … Yallop was in charge of the Galaxy in 2006-07. ... Assistant coach Ian Russell played three games for L.A. in '07.
Wondolowski is with the U.S. team in Pasadena, a potential late substitute in the Gold Cup final. … Midfielder Andre Luiz (knee surgery ) and defender Ike Opara (foot injury) are out.
At Buck Shaw Stadium (Santa Clara), 3:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Radio: K-Talk (KTLK-AM/1150) and ESPN Deportes (KWKU-AM/1220, Spanish)
Referee: Juan Guzman