Carson, CA – One of the most high-profile Major League Soccer matches of the year will be renewed on Saturday when the Los Angeles Galaxy welcome Red Bull New York to The Home Depot Center in their only regular season meeting of 2012.
The Red Bulls and Galaxy boast the two most star-studded squads in the league, combining for five designated players of the highest caliber.
Unfortunately for spectators, New York will be without its two biggest stars for the monumental clash as Rafa Marquez serves the final match of a three-game suspension and Thierry Henry is sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained in the club's 1-0 defeat of the New England Revolution last Saturday.
"It's quite a big hamstring [injury], huge one," Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said of Henry's ailment. "Normally you say three to four weeks.
"The way he has started as a goal scorer and [with] assists, it's a huge loss for us, both on and off the pitch."
The shutout against New England was New York's first of the season, and it came with a back-four that had combined for just 23 games of MLS experience entering the match.
New York could be reliant on the "Baby Bulls" for another week as Stephen Keel, Wilman Conde and Roy Miller are all out with injuries, while Jan Gunnar Solli is questionable to return at the right-back position.
The Galaxy also reshuffled their squad for their last outing, a 2-0 loss at Seattle Sounders FC midweek. With three games in the span of one week, head coach Bruce Arena opted to leave aging defender Todd Dunivant and striker Robbie Keane back in California, while Mike Magee and Edson Buddle began the match on the bench.
"I think it's a difficult week with the travel and playing on this surface," Arena said after the loss to Seattle. "We wanted to keep some players fresh for the game on Saturday. That's the decision I made.
"We didn't think we were going to be able to play 11 players in three games and we had to rotate some players. It made sense to me to have those players available on Saturday."
Los Angeles operated with a stout defense last season, keeping 17 clean sheets in a possible 34 regular season matches. But that record has proven to be a thing of the past as the club has yet record a shutout this season.
With Buddle and Keane struggling to consistently net goals, the Galaxy find themselves 12 points adrift of first place in the West two months into the season.
"We can't keep saying it's early," said Landon Donovan. "We've gotten better, there's no question, but we have to keep improving. While we're improving we have to start getting points.
"Saturday is a game that's very important now and we have to get points out of it. Everybody knows that the West is a lot stronger than the East and it will get very difficult as the year goes on so we've got to start making our move or else we will find ourselves in a bad place."