When the Colorado Rapids file off their team bus Tuesday evening ahead of their StubHub Center date with the Galaxy, it will mark a strange homecoming for Jack McBean.
McBean played seven seasons with the Galaxy, winning three MLS titles and becoming, at 16, the youngest goal-scorer in franchise history. But until Tuesday he had never dressed in the visitors’ locker room at the stadium he long called home.
“A little bit weird,” McBean predicted of his return. “But I’m looking forward to it.”
Especially since he and his teammates, buried deep in the Western Conference standings, are getting their second chance in 10 days to spoil the Galaxy’s season. Earlier this month, the Rapids snapped the Galaxy’s nine-game unbeaten streak with a win in Colorado; the Galaxy followed that with a draw against lowly Minnesota United, giving them just one point from two games they should have won.
Anything short of a victory Tuesday, against a team that has won just once in 10 road games, would be a further drag on a playoff race that is beginning to quicken. And the Galaxy (10-8-6) will be trying to gain ground in that race without two major contributors in designated players Romain Alessandrini and Gio dos Santos.
Alessandrini, who had a goal in each of his last three starts, left last Saturday’s game midway through the first half with an apparent right knee injury. He was scheduled to have an MRI performed Monday but the team did not release results of the test.
Dos Santos, who has struggled with hamstring injuries all season, did not play in the second half Saturday because of tightness in his left leg. He did not train Monday.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has a goal or an assist in each of his last nine starts, did practice Monday after reportedly being ill over the weekend. He is expected to play against Colorado (6-12-5) needing two goals to join Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the only active players to score 500 times for club and country.
McBean returns in the middle of that maelstrom simply hoping for a warm reception.
“I’m not expecting too much,” he said by phone from Colorado. “I don’t want them to boo me or anything like that.”
McBean, 23, signed with the Galaxy under Bruce Arena and played 14 times in 20 games under Curt Onalfo last season. But after Sigi Schmid took over as coach, the forward played just 39 more minutes, so the December trade that sent him to the Rapids in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick was not a surprise.
“I kind of expected it,” McBean said.
Welcomed it, in fact, since he’s already set career bests for starts (nine) and minutes played (777) in Colorado while matching highs for appearances (18) and goals (2).
“He’s fortunate to get a chance and I’m glad he’s getting minutes,” said Jack’s father, Calum McBean, who has been very involved in his son’s career. “It seems like he’s making a difference for them.”
In Tuesday’s homecoming he has a chance to make a difference in the Galaxy’s season, too. However that difference, he hopes, won’t be a positive one.