Galaxy hope to tighten up on K.C.'s turf

Wizards' narrow field poses different challenge for unbeaten L.A.

The Los Angeles Galaxy will head
out on the road for just the second time this season on Saturday, and where
they’re headed is a far cry from the comforts of the Home Depot Center.

When they take the field against
the Kansas City Wizards, they’ll be kicking off on a notoriously small field at
CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, and the Galaxy players are well aware
of the difference.

“Once you get past midfield,
anyone can shoot. And you saw that last year when (Claudio) Lopez scored from
halfway,” said Galaxy defender A.J. De La Garza, recalling a goal scored
against Los Angeles last season by the former Wizards star.

“If you lose a ball on your half
of the field you’ve got to be ready.”

CommunityAmerica Ballpark and
Houston’s Robertson Stadium are well-known for their relatively tight confines,
with both fields measuring 70 yards in width.

The field at the Home Depot
Center -- where the Galaxy are 3-0 this season -- measures 75 yards in width.

But unlike Robertson Stadium --
where the Galaxy posted their only road win of the season on April 10 --  Kansas City’s home turf is just 110 yards
long, a full 10 shorter than the HDC.

“You can definitely tell it’s a
lot shorter. The width is the same as Houston but the length is a lot shorter,”
De La Garza said.

To help combat the field, the
Galaxy again tightened the dimensions on their training grounds this week, the
same trick they used in preparing for an eventual 2-0 win over the Dynamo.

And while the club went through
the trouble of changing around the lines to help prepare for Kansas City,
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena downplayed the ultimate significance of the
preparation technique.

“I wouldn’t use that as a
deciding factor in who won the (Houston) game,” Arena said. “It’s part of
training and gives guys a feel of what the game will look like on Saturday, but
you still have to go out and play and you’ve got to be a good team and a smart
team on the day. Just having lines changed on the training field is not going
to guarantee success.”

Regardless of the field size,
Kansas City figures to pose a threat. The Wizards topped D.C. United 4-0 and Colorado
1-0 on home turf this season. “Good team, a strong kind of powerful team.
Play well at home,” Arena said of the Wizards. “Haven’t had many games… but all
indications are that they’re improved team from last year.”