CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are just three weeks into training camp and are far from a finished product, which is why they have high hopes for their upcoming trip to Arizona.
They left Sunday for the start of a 10-day training camp in Scottsdale that will feature practice games against the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps (Feb. 20 and 22) and reigning MLS cup champion Colorado Rapids on Feb. 16.
This marks the third consecutive season the Galaxy have spent part of their preseason camp in Arizona. They played the Chicago Fire to a 1-1 tie in Tempe, Ariz., in March of 2009 and last season spent 10 days in Arizona, where they went 2-0-1 against the likes of Colorado, Kansas City and Columbus.
Not only does the trip afford the club a chance to continue to integrate its new players – there are 11 new faces on the roster, 10 of whom will be with the club in Arizona – but also gives players and coaches the opportunity for some invaluable team bonding.
“We’re still lacking understanding on the field,” Landon Donovan said. “My belief has always been the things you do off the field then cultivate themselves on the field. Guys in groups hanging out after training, whether it’s sitting by the pool, going to dinner, watching TV, playing cards … those kinds of things allow for discussions about soccer to take place."
“You can understand people and talk about things that are important. Trips like this are crucial to that kind of team building.”
Veteran defender Todd Dunivant said last year’s trip to Arizona proved beneficial, and he expects this one to be helpful, too.
“It was good for us last year,” he said. “It continued to push us forward and it was really good training for us."
“I hope it helps us continue to jell. We have a lot of new faces this year, and there’s a lot of integration we have to deal with in the team. We’re just trying to get things down by opening day (March 15 in Seattle).”
In head coach Bruce Arena’s opinion, such preparation means busy practice days are ahead.
“We need to work on everything,” he said. “There’s not any one area we don’t need to get better. We’ve been together only three weeks, and just two on the field. We’re a long way from where we want to be.
“We just want to continue to take a step forward. We want to be able to analyze all of our players and have a feel for where they are.
“All of the little things, and hopefully move forward in a positive manner to be ready come March.”
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