Three hurry back from Europe

Times Staff Writer

The Galaxy’s David Beckham and Landon Donovan and Chivas USA’s Jonathan Bornstein were expected to arrive back from Europe today in time to play at least a part in tonight’s game at the Home Depot Center.

Donovan and Bornstein each played 63 minutes in the U.S. team’s 1-0 loss Wednesday to Sweden.

Meanwhile, Beckham played the entire game in England’s 2-1 loss against Germany.

“In some capacity, I would think, he would get on the field if he feels OK,” Galaxy Coach Frank Yallop told the Associated Press on Wednesday. Beckham “wants to be available and ready to go. Don’t be surprised if he’s starting. Don’t be surprised if he gets five minutes.”


Jet lag is not the only issue for tonight’s game. So far in August, the Galaxy has played four MLS games, three on fake grass, and the team has lost five players as a result.

No matter how much Major League Soccer tries to emphasize the improved quality of artificial playing surfaces -- the league even issued a positive “talking points” bulletin to its teams this year -- the players know better.

Beckham and Donovan, for instance, have pointed out how great a toll synthetic fields take on the body, and that was before Los Angeles’ recent two East Coast swings that only reinforced their argument.

The catalog of injuries makes for depressing reading for Galaxy coaches and fans. Just consider:

* Defender Troy Roberts sprained his right ankle in the 0-0 tie at Toronto on a surface that was ridiculed beforehand by Donovan.

“It’s kind of a shame because you have a gorgeous stadium in a beautiful city and then you come out and play on this. I don’t know why they decided to cut corners there, but I’m not happy about it,” Donovan said.

“You can’t trap the ball half the time . . . and the injury factor is a whole other deal. I don’t know why they’d spend so much money and then short the actual product on the field. Maybe they’ll change it someday.”

* Galaxy defender Abel Xavier injured his left knee after the Toronto game, played in the 1-0 loss to D.C. United on real grass but then could not play against New England or New York because the Revolution and the Red Bulls play on artificial surfaces.


* Midfielder Quavas Kirk suffered a left foot injury in the 1-0 loss at New England.

* Midfielder Kelly Gray sustained a right calf injury while training for the New England game on Gillette Stadium’s artificial field.

* Defender Ante Jazic injured his right ankle early in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to New York on the synthetic surface at Giants Stadium.

Gray and Jazic are definitely out of tonight’s game, and Roberts, Xavier and Kirk are listed as questionable.


The players’ main complaints about synthetic surfaces center on the ball not playing true and the fact that their recovery time takes two or three days, much longer than after games on natural grass.

Five of the 13 MLS teams play their home games on artificial surfaces: Toronto, New England, New York, Chicago and Real Salt Lake. The Galaxy still has away games at Real Salt Lake and Chicago.

After tonight’s game, the Galaxy flies to Denver on Saturday for a game against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday before returning to play the SuperLiga tournament final against Mexican champion Pachuca in Carson on Wednesday night.

Attendance for the SuperLiga game has been capped at 12,500 under terms of the agreement between the Home Depot Center and Cal State Dominguez Hills that limits the size crowds on school nights because of parking availability.


Chivas USA, meanwhile, will play host to Real Salt Lake in Carson on Sunday.



Galaxy vs. Chivas USA, 7, ESPN2


Site -- Home Depot Center.

Radio -- 1700, 830 (Spanish).

Records -- Galaxy 3-8-5; Chivas USA 9-6-3.

Record vs. Chivas USA -- 1-0-1.


Update -- This will be the first head-to-head meeting with David Beckham on the Galaxy roster. The Galaxy beat Chivas, 3-1, in April, and the teams played to a 1-1 tie in May.