Despite changes, Galaxy do not miss a step
Last Saturday's 2-0
victory over the Houston Dynamo not only was a testament to the LA Galaxy's
strong defense, which has yet to allow a goal through three games, but also to
the team's depth and versatility.
And that's exactly
what head coach Bruce Arena has been hoping for.
A classic case in
point was Saturday's lineup which featured Sean
Franklin, MLS Rookie of the Year as a defender two seasons
ago, at right midfield and second-year man A.J. DeLaGarza at right back. If
anyone had been concerned whether they could handle the responsibilities, Arena
wasn't one of them.
"I thought Sean
played well,'' he said. "We've had him in training here a couple of years, and
he played there last year, so it was nothing really new. A.J. always does a
solid job. He's a good player, and it makes sense to get him on the field
whenever we can.''
Dema Kovalenko also was lost to injury during pregame warm-ups and Chris
Birchall, in his second season with the club, stepped in and played well.
"Our depth, if not
the best, is one of the best in the league,'' said veteran midfielder Jovan
Kirovski, who returned to action after recovering from a strained knee ligament
suffered midway through training camp. ``We have a great group. One guy gets
hurt and another steps in and does a great job.
"We have a good
team, great depth, we're on a good run and we have to keep it going.''
Franklin's appearance at
midfield wasn't completely new, although he rarely played there in college and
occasionally was a central midfielder at Highland High School
in Palmdale. Franklin also had played outside
right late in a victory over Chivas USA two weeks ago and saw some
action there last season. The 25-year-old said the new position takes some
getting used, but he already has two assists.
Arena approached Franklin during training last week and informed him where
he was going to be used in the Houston game, and
welcomed the challenge.
"This last game I
was a lot more comfortable,'' Franklin
said. "I thought I did OK, but there also are a lot of things I want to work
on. For the most part I'm pretty comfortable there.''
Franklin said the mind-set
from defense to midfield is completely different. Specifically, he has to get
used to getting forward more and not being afraid to involve himself in the
"You need a
different mentality,'' he said, "and that's what I'm going to work on and get
better at. It's something I have to get used to. If I happen to play there a
couple more times I'll eventually get comfortable doing that.''
Arena said the Galaxy
will continue to tweak its lineup, especially when the heavy part of the
schedule kicks in during the summer. He also figures to soon have back Clint
Mathis (who has been recovering from knee surgery early in camp), Gregg
Berhalter (sore knee) and Eddie Lewis (bruised foot), so his lineup likely will
be changing again once those veterans are available.
No problem as far as
be moving things back around,'' Arena said. ``We're getting players back
healthy, and there's going to be changes throughout the year, especially once
we get into a very congested schedule. I'm hopeful we will have a number of
players we can call on and use in different spots.''