Unbeaten Galaxy counting on wealth of depth
On the Galaxy’s roster this season are players who have competed in World Cups, World Cup qualifying, European leagues and MLS champions.
Some of them have yet to contribute a thing for club this season. And yet the Galaxy haven't felt any negative effects from their collective absences.
After beating Real Salt Lake by 2-1 on Saturday, Los Angeles has a stellar 4-0-0 start, all despite a training room full of banged-up bodies. Players such as Gregg Berhalter, Clint Mathis, Jovan Kirovski and Alan Gordon have played little or not at all this season, yet the Galaxy have plugged those holes with newcomers and youngsters such as Juninho, Michael Stephens and Bryan Jordan and the club hasn't skipped a beat.
Having depth is not something the Galaxy take lightly.
“We pride ourselves on our depth,” LA captain Landon Donovan said after Saturday's 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake. “By contrast, Salt Lake had a couple of injuries and it really affected them. We’ve had a lot of injuries to veteran players so we don’t have a lot of leadership on the field so guys are stepping in and kind of learning on the run.”
Leonardo replaced Berhalter in the lineup, but Leonardo was hurt and unavailable for Real Salt Lake. A.J. DeLaGarza stepped in and helped keep RSL forwards Álvaro Saborío and Fabián Espíndola in check. Sean Franklin left the game with injury midway through the first half and Jordan replaced him and was able to fill the role without too many problems.
“We’ve been resilient for sure,” Berhalter said. “When you can get results under those conditions you know you are working with something good here. Part of our goal for this year was to establish depth on the roster and I think we have that.”
The midfield has been a bit shaken up as well as Dema Kovalenko has missed the last two games with injury, but Chris Birchall has been able to step in without any setbacks.
Depth will be critical soon as Landon Donovan is likely to head to South Africa for the World Cup. Edson Buddle’s seven goals also may earn him a call and could keep him away from the team. But the club seems well prepared to weather that storm as well.
“It’s probably the best team we’ve had in my tenure,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “I don’t want to go back to the old years, but obviously in the last two years, this is the best group we have. We have pretty good depth.”
Once players begin returning -- Berhalter dressed but did not play Saturday while Kirovski and Gordon have seen time on the field -- the competition for starting spots and even spots on the matchday roster could continue the club’s surge in confidence.
“We’re going to get some guys back in the near future and that will help us,” Arena said. “Having the depth we have and the confidence we have in each other has allowed us to perform well to date.”