Whitecaps FC-Galaxy Preview

The Associated Press

While captain Landon Donovan's status still remains unclear, the Los Angeles Galaxy have to be feeling good about their chances of staying hot Saturday night.

The Galaxy are at home facing a Vancouver Whitecaps team which has never beaten them and will be missing one of its top players.

Los Angeles (12-11-4) is three points ahead of Vancouver (10-10-7), which owns the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. However, the Whitecaps have been struggling, losing a season-high three straight, while the Galaxy have been pretty formidable - with or without Donovan.

The Galaxy have won all three matches - two in CONCACAF Champions League play - since Donovan has been sidelined by a strained hamstring suffered while playing for the U.S. national team Aug. 15.

They're 11-3-2 over their last 16 games overall after beating the Puerto Rico Islanders 4-0 on Wednesday in CONCACAF play.

Besides missing Donovan, Los Angeles was without suspended forward Robbie Keane, and coach Bruce Arena held David Beckham out.

"It was terrific," Arena told the club's official website. "I don't understand baseball that much, but I know that they talk all the time when a starter can pitch a lot of innings, it helps the bullpen. ... Last night, the bullpen helped the starters and those guys being able to log a lot of minutes really did the job for us."

Keane and Beckham, who played through a stomach virus before coming out in the 78th minute of Sunday's 2-0 win over FC Dallas, should both be in Saturday's lineup. Donovan, meanwhile, is uncertain to play.

Though the Whitecaps could catch the Galaxy with their first win in this series, they aren't expected to be at full strength with coach Martin Rennie set to rest defender Young-Pyo Lee, who has played every minute this season.

"All the games are important - they always have been – especially in the (Western Conference)," Rennie told the Whitecaps' official website. "I think for us now you start to gear up toward that point where you want to be in a good position at the end of the season and playing at your best. We've got a lot of work to get to that form, but we know we can do that."

The Whitecaps have been outscored 6-1 during their three-game skid, including a 2-1 defeat at Portland last Saturday.

"I think we're just kind of at the lower end of a bump and it's just going to take one result to get us going in the right direction," goalkeeper Joe Cannon told MLS' official website. " ... I don't think any of us are panicking at this point."

Things aren't about to get any easier for Vancouver with a visit to Los Angeles in store. The Galaxy have outscored the Whitecaps 12-2 in going 3-0-1 in four all-time meetings.

Both of Vancouver's goals came in the most recent matchup, a 2-all draw July 18.

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