CARSON, Calif.— The LA Galaxy returned to The Home Depot Center Monday morning for the first day of preseason training camp. One season removed from winning the Supporters’ Shield and finishing with the best regular season record in MLS, the club is looking to build on last season and win big.
“We’re not satisfied with what we did in 2009 and 2010. (In 2011) we want to be better,” said head coach Bruce Arena, who during the offseason acquired MLS veterans Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett, Adam Cristman and Frankie Hejduk. “We think we have the right players, we know it’s not perfect but we think we have the ability to be better this year.”
Players, both new and returning, said the objective will be to take what the club accomplished last season and improve on it.
“We won the Supporters’ Shield, had the most points in the league, had the third most points in MLS history, but that’s not good enough,” defender Sean Franklin said. “Our ultimate goal is to win MLS Cup and that’s going to be our goal this year.”
“He (Arena) said we have expectations to win, and win championships,” added goalkeeper Josh Saunders. “That’s why we are here. Even with the Champions' League, this year we want to win everything. Every competition we are in, we want to win.”
Cristman, a forward acquired two weeks ago in a trade with D.C. United, was surprised with the club’s lack of complacency.
“On previous clubs I’ve been with, sometimes you would settle with winning the Supporters’ Shield and calling that a good year,” said Cristman, “but Bruce expects more and I think the rest of the guys do as well.”
Having never been part of a championship team, Barrett, acquired in a Draft Day trade with Toronto FC, said he is hungry to be part of a title run.
“I’ve never been on a championship team and haven’t been to the playoffs the last couple of years,” he said. “I’m hungrier than ever and want to help this club do this.”
Only three players were absent from Monday’s training session— forward Juan Pablo Ángel and midfielders David Beckham and Juninho.
Ángel was still in New York preparing for his move to the West Coast, he will join the club next week ahead of their first full training session. Beckham, currently in London training with Tottenham, will join his teammates next month.
Juninho was still in Brazil, but is expected to be in L.A. later this week.
While the players in camp performed seven different types of strength and endurance tests Monday morning, the test that got the most attention was the VO2 test— an endurance test that consists of a player running on the treadmill while wearing an oxygen mask. Not everyone tends to run on the treadmill while wearing a mask.
“It’s kind of like putting on a snorkeling mask for the first time,” said Barrett, who first did the VO2 test with Toronto last season. “It’s just not normal to breathe underwater and it’s not normal to run on a treadmill with a mask on. It’s harder to breathe and harder to run with, but I guess it’s a good test to see where we are at.”
That’s exactly what it is.
“The purpose of today was to introduce new players to the returning veterans and get an analysis of where players stand physically,” Arena said. “I think all of those things were accomplished.
“It (the VO2) gives us understandings of where players are starting at and allows us to use science to see where players are individually and where our team is as well.”
Many of the top professional clubs in Europe used this test and it is the fourth consecutive season the Galaxy have done it. The objective is to find out how much oxygen a player is taking when running and finding where their peak heart rate level is at.
The players also did a six-minute run while strapped to a wireless heart-rate monitor to get a base for the players.
“Fitness early on is going to be longer in endurance,” the Galaxy’s strength and conditioning coach Ben Yauss said. “We want to make sure we have the guys at the right intensity levels and make sure we are pacing them and pushing them accordingly.”
The VO2 test helps do just that.
The Galaxy will open the 2011 MLS season on Tuesday, March 15 when they head to Seattle to take on the Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field in MLS First Kick 2011, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. That game, which will kick off at 6:30 p.m., will be shown live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, as well as online at ESPN3.com. The Galaxy will then host the New England Revolution in their home opener at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20 at The Home Depot Center. Tickets are available for that match through the Galaxy Kickoff Pack, which includes four tickets and two Galaxy blankets, starting at $96. BUY NOW