Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy take on Gregg Berhalter’s Columbus Crew on Saturday, Aug. 16 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by MLS LIVE and Time Warner Cable Sportsnet. The match is important for two reasons: a reuniting moment between Berhalter and his old mentor Arena, and left back Robbie Rogers coming home to his old club, Columbus.
“It feels a little weird because this is my first time back in Columbus [since I returned to MLS],” Rogers told LAGalaxy.com’s Adam Serrano. “Last night, I took some guys to the Short North [neighborhood] to some of the old restaurants that I used to go to by my old apartment. It’s nice to be back and it’s interesting because the team is very different.
“I have so many fond memories playing at Crew Stadium and it’s interesting that now I hope to have the same experience, but as a member of a different team. It’ll be weird, but all guys go back to old teams and deal with this experience.
“I’m sure when I get to the stadium tomorrow; it’ll be very different because I’ll be coming to the stadium trying to get three points from the Crew. This is a big game for us because we have two games in a row and the first one sets the tone for the road trip. It may be weird [to return to Columbus], but once the whistle blows, I’ll forget about it.”
As for Arena, he downplayed the reuniting moment between master and student.
“It’s like any other game, in all honesty. Nothing’s different,” Arena told LAGalaxy.com’s Larry Morgan. “I’m happy Gregg’s had that opportunity and he’s doing a good job. We’re playing Columbus on Saturday. I happen to know who their coach is and if we have an opportunity to socialize we certainly will.”
“I think most of my memories are of him yelling at me,” the Galaxy’s A.J. DeLaGarza said of Berhalter. “He was a fiery guy, but a leader. A guy that took every play 120 percent.”
“He was a big influence on my game. Definitely a mentor of mine,” said defender Omar Gonzalez. “He was always tough on me because he knew I could be a good player. I remember him yelling at me, sitting me down, talking to me, what things I can work on, showing me video of my touches, going over a lot of things. We had some great years, and I’m definitely looking forward to going to Columbus and playing against him. I just look forward to seeing him.”
The match is part of a two-fer, which will see the Galaxy on the road for matches against Columbus and the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 20. The Galaxy will then head home for a match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Aug. 23.
“[Schedule congestion] is always challenging but the good thing is that we have a good squad of players that can step up if they’re called upon,” said captain Robbie Keane to Serrano. “This month is vital and will determine where people are going to be [at the end of the season]. We have to make sure that we keep ourselves [competitive] and I’m sure that the way that we’re playing at the moment; we’re going to set ourselves up nicely.”