Injuries continue to test Galaxy’s defensive depth
CARSON, Calif. – There never have been any questions about the talent level on the LA Galaxy, and there should no longer be any doubts about their resiliency.
These last two weeks have tested their collective resolve to the limit and, so far, the Galaxy have passed with flying colors.
“Obviously that’s what you look for in a team,” said David Beckham, who missed the last two games with back problems and played 22 minutes in Monday’s 0-0 draw with Seattle Sounders FC at The Home Depot Center. “You need that character.”
It certainly has been challenged lately. It started last Saturday in San Jose, when the Galaxy lost two goalkeepers and had to rely on midfielder Mike Magee to take over in goal in a wild 0-0 draw with the Earthquakes. And it continued in Monday’s Western Conference showdown against the Sounders when the Galaxy went with third-stringer Brian Perk in goal and lost their two starting central defenders.
Center back A.J. DeLaGarza, who had played in every game except two prior to Monday, was replaced in the 24th minute by Gregg Berhalter, who turns 38 next month, after taking a foot to the face from Seattle’s Fredy Montero while battling for a loose ball. Omar Gonzalez then was lost to a hip pointer in the 79th minute, which prompted right back Sean Franklin to move into central defense – Franklin said he couldn’t remember the last time he played that position – and midfielder Bryan Jordan to take over at right back, where he hasn’t played since last season.
Throw in the early-season losses of center backs Leonardo and Sean Alvarado to season-ending knee injuries, and the Galaxy would appear to be in dire straits, but not necessarily so.
“We’re prepared for that,” head coach Bruce Arena said.
Beckham said he is proud of the team’s ability to bounce back from its recent adversity.
“I think it’s always difficult losing players, especially when it’s defenders,” he said. “I think we adapted in the right way, in the way that we needed to.
“When things are down and when players miss (playing time) through either suspension or injury it’s how the squad reacts. We’ve reacted well. We reacted really well in San Jose and obviously tonight losing a couple of players again.”
Said Franklin, who played much of his rookie season in central defense while also playing there briefly in MLS Cup 2009 following an injury to Gonzalez, “It shows a lot of character. Bruce has put a team together where we can throw anyone out there. We knew that the next guy was ready to step up. They did that tonight.”
Gonzalez, who said he suffered the injury when he was undercut by Seattle’s Roger Levesque and landed directly on his hip, said he has been surprised by the Galaxy’s recent misfortune regarding injuries and player losses.
“It’s definitely unlucky,” he said. “It started in San Jose when things started getting unlucky. Today me and A.J. go down. I think A.J. is a lot worse off than I am; he was kind of dizzy from the get-go. Hopefully he’s all right.
“For me I have to be really focused on getting my treatment.”
Beckham said the recent adversity actually might work in the Galaxy’s favor.
“I think we’d rather get all these injuries now than closer to the end of the season,” he said. “Let’s hope this is it for us.”