Without Gonzalez and Keane, LA Galaxy ready for challenge from banged-up Colorado side
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have no intention of wallowing in the mire of last Sunday’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Chivas USA. The two-time defending MLS Cup champions (1-0-1, 4 pts.) are ready for Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids at The Home Depot Center (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes, LIVECHAT).
Coaches and players say it’s simply too early in the season to dwell on that draw.
“Those things happen,” head coach Bruce Arena said after training earlier this week. “The guys are fine, it’s a long season and they’re well aware of that.”
Said defender A.J. DeLaGarza, “I think we’ve moved on. We’ve had a positive attitude. I think there are only two undefeated [and untied] teams in the league right now.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he went on with a grin.
Adding a little intrigue to Saturday’s match are the absences of striker Robbie Keane and central defender Omar Gonzalez, both of whom are away on international duty for World Cup qualifying with the Irish and U.S. national teams, respectively. Arena hasn’t revealed who will take their places in his starting lineup, but he’s confident whatever direction he and his staff choose the Galaxy will respond in a positive manner.
“We’re hopeful we get the right combination of players on the field, we can be good going forward and defend well,” he said.
Added Mike Magee, who has started up front and in the midfield so far this season, “No one’s really panicking, but Robbie’s obviously a pretty key figure for us. He’s probably the most dangerous player in the league and tends to create things out of nothing. He’ll definitely be missed.
“We have to give some other guys a chance to step up and prove their worth.”
Those possibilities include former Galaxy academy standouts Jack McBean and Jose Villareal, both of whom have been impressive in their limited minutes. In central defense, DeLaGarza will likely be partnered with Leonardo or Tommy Meyer, although the latter has not played in any of LA’s four games this year while recovering from a hamstring strain.
The Rapids, winless in three matches (0-2-1), have had their injury issues as well. Veteran midfielder and team captain Pablo Mastroeni just returned to full training this week from a strained left hamstring and is expected to play Saturday while former Galaxy forward Edson Buddle has not seen any action since being traded to Colorado in December because of a knee injury.
But it’s in goal where Colorado really has had to do some shuffling.
Veteran goalkeeper Matt Pickens suffered two broken bones in his left forearm in last Saturday’s 1-1 tie at Real Salt Lake, forcing Clint Irwin into action in what was his MLS debut. The Rapids have already used three different goalkeepers this season with Steward Ceus, who played against LA when the two sides met in the preseason, starting the season opening loss to FC Dallas before Pickens started the next two games with Irwin coming on for him following his injury early in the first half of last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake.
“They’ve had a little disruption with injuries to start the season, but they’ve done a good job,” Arena said of the Rapids. “They’re real solid defensively.
“They’re going to come into The Home Depot Center and give us all we can handle for 90 minutes.”