Vancouver Whitecaps v Los Angeles Galaxy - Knockout Round

Injury concerns mounting for Galaxy ahead of Sunday’s series opener against San Jose

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source: Getty ImagesAdding some anxiety to an anxious night for the L.A. Galaxy are ongoing injury concerns that could reduce the champ’s chances as in the coming Western Conference semifinal clash.

The Galaxy begins its two-game total goals series against San Jose on Sunday at the Home Depot Center.

The question is whether three valuable starters will be available, Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza and Juninho (pictured).

Neither Franklin nor DeLaGarza were available for Thursday’s 2-1 win over Vancouver. That represents half the Galaxy’s back line; Franklin is the first-choice right back, and DeLaGarza is the top choice to partner with Omar Gonzalez centrally along the back line.

The versatile DeLaGarza’s absence is a double whammy as he is Bruce Arena’s top choice to back-up Franklin on the outside, depending on how Arena chooses to arrange his personnel.

The back line woes were surely part of the reason L.A. fell behind immediately Thursday, as Matt Watson blew by inexperience right back replacement Hector Jimenez. Then, Darren Mattocks shook free of the central marking to push a swell ball past Galaxy ‘keeper Josh Saunders. Suffice to say, the Galaxy back line didn’t exactly shine in that one.

Arena said he thought Franklin would return for Sunday’s series opener, indicating his removal from Thursday’s lineup was mostly precautionary.

Meanwhile, Juninho’s potential absence may not be the most concerning. He does so much of the midfield running that David Beckham can no longer manage – especially now that the former England captain is further slowed by an ongoing ankle issue.

What the Brazilian midfielder said about his Achilles injury, which forced his 82nd-minute removal:

I’m tired, my Achilles tendon hurts a little bit, but I’m going to rest tomorrow and try to be ready for [Sunday]. I was just standing there and the player kicked the ball through my legs and when I turned, I was just tired, and my Achilles just gave.”

Images of Juninho being carried off the field will not make fans feel any better about a quick return.

Arena also said that Christian Wilhelmsson, now a part-time starter for L.A., had a minor quadriceps injury that occurred in practice on Wednesday.

Klinsmann blames Costa Rica loss on Mexico hangover

Jurgen Klinsmann

The United States lost their third straight match on home soil tonight, the first such losing streak since 1997.

Following an extra-time loss to Mexico on Saturday, the U.S. failed to compete in a friendly against Costa Rica, putting in another poor performance as the side continues to struggle.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

In his post match press conference, Jurgen Klinsmann said his team was still shaking off the loss against Mexico, and couldn’t recover in time for tonight’s game.

Yes, the United States’ match against Mexico went 120 minutes. Yes, it was a very tough game both physically and mentally. However, it’s time for Klinsmann to stop making excuses.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from the USMNT’s loss to Costa Rica ]

Of the starting XI against Costa Rica, only four started against Mexico. Of the six substitutes Klinsmann brought in today, only Bobby Wood played in the Mexico match, and for less than 25 minutes.

The problem isn’t that the U.S. lost tonight; it’s that they didn’t even show up. What Klinsmann needed to do was walk into his press conference and say, “We didn’t come to play tonight. We stunk. That can’t happen and we need to be better. It starts with me.”

[ PLAYER RATINGS: Howard’s return highlights poor performances from USMNT ]

Top teams don’t dwell on past results. Top teams rebound quickly and back up poor performances with strong performances. When a top team would have bounced back, the United States fell flat.

Clearly the argument is, well, the United States isn’t a top team. But isn’t that what Klinsmann was brought in to do? To help develop the USMNT into a top team? The least they could do is act like one, and that starts with the manager.

College Soccer Update: Tragedy strikes USC Upstate with horrible car accident

USC Upstate
USC Upstate
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No interviews today. No star players and programs. Just mourning.

USC Upstate lost four students earlier this week, two of them men’s soccer players, in an early morning car accident this weekend. A fifth was injured when the car they were driving in ran off the road, hit a tree, and caught fire.

James Campbell and Mills Sproul are the soccer players who’ve left the pitch for the final time.

[ MORE: College soccer news ]

USC Upstate’s athletic department held a candelight vigil on Monday, and honored both players with online memorials.

From Campbell’s, entitled “James Campbell Was an Intense Player Whose Competitiveness Made Those Around Him Play Harder”:

While Kyle Juell and James attended different high schools, they played club soccer together. “James was intense and passionate on the field,” Juell said. “He was the kind of aggressive player you wanted as a teammate. He was fun and warm and full of life and he cared so much about his teammates.”

From Sproul’s, entitled “Mills Sproul Put the Needs of Others Before His Own and Was Accepting of All”:

Mills’ teammate Deon Rose said that Mills was like the brother he never had.

“The first time I met him, I knew that he was special,” Rose said. “Not because he asked me if we had beaches in Canada or how Canadians survived without Chick-fil-A, but because he had an unconditional love for everyone and everything.”

Our thoughts are with the USC Upstate team, and entire community. Rest in peace.

Three stars of the week

1. University of California Santa Barbara — The Gauchos leapt from “receiving votes” to No. 14 in the nation. The Gauchos have won five-straight, all in-state, by a combined score of 13-3.

2. Joey Piatczyc, West Virginia — The midfielder leads the nation in assists with 12, one coming in Tuesday’s upset of Penn State, a match in which he also scored his first of the year. The Mountaineers shocked PSU with a 3-0 home win in Morgantown.

3. Francis Atuahene and Colin McAtee, Michigan — The Ghanaian freshman is a lightning bolt, and keeps producing goals along with the redshirt senior McAtee, who hails from San Diego. The Wolverines beat Duquesne 3-0 on Tuesday.

Other notes

— Creighton dropped two of its 24 first place votes, one each to North Carolina and Stanford, but remains the No.1 men’s team in the nation.

— Wake Forest hasn’t allowed a goal in three matches, against quality competition in NC State, South Carolina and Boston College. There were stretches in the 2-0 win over South Carolina where they looked unbeatable.

— Speaking of the Demon Deacons, they’ll face dangerous UNC on Saturday in what will be a cracker.

— Also No. 1:Florida State (Women’s D-1), Gannon (Women’s D-2), Trinity of Texas (Women’s D-3), Pfeiffer (Men’s D-2), Franklin & Marshall (Men’s D-3).