With the MLS' leading scorer and the league’s top assist man both targeted by the national team, some teams may have panicked and tried to have figured out various ways to fill those holes.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, though, focused on the here and now and said he barely gave the looming international absences of Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan a second thought.
“We didn’t spend a whole lot of energy worrying about that,” Arena said. “We know who our team is.”
Buddle and Donovan have been a large part of the team’s success this season. Buddle has scored nine goals on the season, best in the league, while Donovan has a league-leading nine assists.
To replace them in the lineup, Arena will simply tap into the team’s depth, which is getting more plentiful even with his top two offensive players leaving.
“We’ve had about seven or eight injuries over the last four weeks so our choices have been somewhat limited but in the next week or two we’re going to return a number of players,” Arena said. “So there’s going to be a lot of options to fill those spots.”
Several players have overcome early-season injuries, such as Gregg Berhalter and Jovan Kirovski. Others, such as Leonardo and Dema Kovalenko, have picked up knocks and have been left on the sideline.
“We’re losing two good players, but we’ve lost players all year,” left back Todd Dunivant said. “We’ve lost Leonardo and Dema… and Eddie Lewis. We have a deep team and guys are going to have step up.”
Arena is focused on the entire squad, not just the places where Donovan and Buddle roam. One area of concern has been the right back spot, and Arena was as optimistic as being able to get that side of the field in a better position because of healthy bodies.
“Bryan (Jordan) did a very good job over these last three games. Chris Klein is obviously an experienced player there,” Arena said. “We’re going to be returning (Sean) Franklin and Leonardo and (AJ) De La Garza very shortly so that will help us in that position. (Mike) Magee is back, (Clint) Mathis is back, Eddie Lewis will be back so that’s certainly going to help up us.”
With the list of available players constantly changing, those who find themselves healthy and able to play need to continue doing what they’ve done this season. In that sense, players said losing two more players and having other step in will be just another part of the challenges the 2010 season has sent the Galaxy’s way.
“We’re going to have to dig a little bit deeper,” Berhalter said. “We’ve been doing it all year. Guys have been injured, in and out. We’re used to that, we’ve been doing that so we’re just going to have to continue.”