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Galaxy Seeking a Little Payback

Times Staff Writer

What may eventually be known as Freddy Adu’s inauguration to stardom came at the expense of the Galaxy last month.

Adu scored his first meaningful Major League Soccer goal in the second minute of injury time, breaking a scoreless tie and giving D.C. United a road victory. The Galaxy lost for the first time at Home Depot Center since last season.

The Galaxy, in the midst of a monthlong trip, looks to return the favor tonight against United, the reigning MLS Cup champion, at RFK Stadium in Washington. The rivals have met twice in the finals, United winning both times.

“This is the classic matchup between divisions,” Galaxy Coach Steve Sampson said. “The way D.C. United stole three points from us, a month or so ago at the Home Depot Center, is still strong in my mind. We hope to do the same thing to them.”

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The late meltdown also remains in the thoughts of the Galaxy players.

“That coupled with they’re probably playing the best soccer in the league, probably couldn’t set the table any better,” midfielder Peter Vagenas said. “We are going to have to get results on the road and we remain confident.”

It’s doubtful Adu will have the same impact as in the previous game. The 16-year-old, in his second MLS season, is questionable because of a sprained knee.

The Galaxy has not won away from Southern California since June 2004.

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Sampson has used forward Landon Donovan, the team’s leading scorer who has split time with the national team, sparingly to conserve his energy, but expects him to play a pivotal role tonight.

The Galaxy will also have defender Chris Albright and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who were with the national team in its 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday. Albright played 90 minutes and Hartman sat out.

“Given that they’ve had two days off, I would expect that they’d be ready to start,” Sampson said.

Sampson, who has received heat because of the Galaxy’s road woes, was hopeful the team could break out against United.

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“A win would be a tremendous plus,” he said. “Short of winning, if we play well and tie that too can be a motivator for us. But our ultimate goal is to win.”

*

GALAXY TONIGHT

at D.C. United, 4:30 PDT, FSN West

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Site -- RFK Stadium.

Radio -- 830, 1540.

Records -- Galaxy 9-9-5, United 11-6-5.

Record vs. United -- 0-1.

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Update -- Defender Tyrone Marshall should return to the Galaxy after sitting out two games because of an injury. Donovan was selected to play for MLS in a friendly against Real Madrid on Tuesday in Spain. Midfielder Cobi Jones needs one assist to break Mauricio Cienfuegos’ all-time team mark. Forward Alecko Eskandarian (concussion) and defender David Stokes (ankle sprain) are out for United, which is coming off a 3-0 victory over Chivas USA last Saturday. Midfielder Dema Kovalenko has scored in United’s last three games. United has a six-game unbeaten streak.


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