Bruce Arena has options to fill voids left by international absences
CARSON, Calif. – No Robbie Keane? No Omar Gonzalez? No problem say the LA Galaxy.
On Saturday night when the two-time defending MLS Cup champions take on the Colorado Rapids, they will do so without the two veterans, who are away on international duty. But despite having Keane in Ireland preparing for a pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria and Gonzalez with the U.S. National Team ahead of their qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena still has plenty of options at his disposal.
WATCH: Keane scores vs Chicago
The defense, for example, should make a seamless transition in Gonzalez’s absence, with either A.J. DeLaGarza or Leonardo, each of who have played significant minutes so far this season, sliding into Gonzalez’s position in central defense. Tommy Meyer is another possibility, though he’s just returning from a left hamstring injury.
The top of the formation, however, is where things get particularly interesting. Arena, for example, could start Mike Magee, who had three goals in a season-opening 4-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, and pair him up top with Jack McBean, Jose Villarreal, 2013 first round SuperDraft pick Charlie Rugg or even Chandler Hoffman, acquired earlier this month from the Philadelphia Union.
Arena also might go with the Homegrown pairing of McBean and Villarreal, who have had their moments of brilliance in limited duty.
“That would be pretty crazy,” said Villarreal, who missed most of the preseason with the U.S. Under-20 National Team at the recent CONCACAF U-20 Championship, but returned to score for LA against Herediano in the Champions League last week. “Two (Galaxy) academy kids playing with the first team and starting, that would be like going back to the academy days.
“It would be nice. We know each other pretty well. It would work pretty well.”
WATCH: McBean scores vs Chivas USA
McBean, who came off the bench to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead in Sunday’s eventual 1-1 tie with Chivas USA, said he feels ready if called upon for a starting spot Saturday against the Colorado Rapids at The Home Depot Center.
“I feel pretty ready,” he said. “The game on Sunday was good for my confidence. Coming in and getting a goal and helping the team any way I can.”
Even Hoffman, the ex-UCLA standout and former first round pick of the Union, could be in the mix.
“I’ve been here close to 2 1/2 weeks now, and I’ve kind of gotten used to how the club works, how the guys go about preparing for games.
“I feel I’m ready to step up if I’m called upon.”
Whatever Arena intends to do for Saturday, either up front or in defense, he wasn’t letting on.
“I’m not sure we’ve arrived at where we’re going to go,” he said after training on Tuesday. “I think we need to get through the week a little bit before we decide what we’re going to do.
“We’re clearly making two changes. How many more remains to be seen. We’ll play it out a little during the week.”