LA Galaxy happy to be back in SoCal; focused on Saturday showdown with Real Salt Lake

Galaxy look to build on ICC experience going into final third of 2013

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CARSON, Calif. – It was a recharged LA Galaxy that trained at StubHub Center on Tuesday for the time in two weeks. Fresh off playing in the Guinness International Champions Cup and a wild 3-3 draw away to FC Dallas, the club is now focused on preparing themselves for the final third of the MLS season and the CONCACAF Champions League.

Since they last played at home, a 2-1 win over Vancouver on July 20, the two-time defending champions have travelled to every time zone in the continental United States, playing games in Commerce City, Colo., Phoenix, Ariz., Miami, Fla., and Frisco, Texas while also making their Dodger Stadium debut earlier this month. Along the way they faced not only Western Conference rivals Colorado and FC Dallas but also Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid and Italian giants Juventus and AC Milan as part of the inaugural International Champions Cup.

It was a long, eventful trip but also highly beneficial, according to Galaxy coaches and players as they prepared for Saturday’s Western Conference showdown with front-running Real Salt Lake at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes, KTLK 1150 AM, KWKW 1330 AM, LIVECHAT).

“I thought it was a good trip for us,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said Tuesday. “Certainly some good experiences for our players playing against the likes of Madrid and Juventus and Milan. And a generally pretty good game against Dallas.

“I think overall it was good for us. It wasn’t a vacation by any means. It was challenging and certainly gave us the opportunity to play a lot more players. Get them the experience against world-class teams.”

Central defender Omar Gonzalez, who signed a new contract with the club on Thursday, becoming their third Designated Player, said the just-concluded trip offered the club a chance to build team chemistry.

“The whole team traveled … reserves, first team, everyone was there,” he said. “It was a really good time for everyone to just be together. And also we played against some great competition in Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan.

“You’re going to learn a lot from those games. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we still have a lot of confidence even though we lost that last one against AC Milan. It’s time for us to start taking care of business. This is the second half of the season, this is when the important games start.

“It’s pretty crazy right now.”

Fellow defender A.J. DeLaGarza said the trip only reinforced what he had felt all along about the Galaxy.

“I still think we can play with the best of them. We put on some pretty good performances,” he said. “Those Champions Cup games and in Dallas I thought we played pretty well.”

Defender Todd Dunivant remained optimistic as well.

“This team has what it takes,” he said. “It depends on whether we can put it together in time. That’s the goal now. We’ve been playing very well now for the last couple of months. We’ve let some results slip away from us; other than the Colorado game (a 2-0 loss on July 27) we haven’t really been outplayed.

“I think we continue to play that way and tighten up everything we’re going to be a very dangerous team going down the stretch.”