To make the most out of their last days in Arizona, the LA Galaxy played Vancouver on consecutive days.
On Monday, the Galaxy beat the Whitecaps 2-0. For good measure, they repeated the score line in Tuesday’s rematch.
Still, while the result will likely please Galaxy supporters, what mattered most to the coaching staff was how the group looked, particularly since it came at the end of a 10-day stint in the Grand Canyon State.
“We’re pleased with the progress that the entire group is making, being where we are in preseason,” Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Tuesday. “Having said that, we know that we need to, as we head into the last phase of our preseason, fine-tune things even more and make sure that we continue to get better each day.”
The Galaxy opened their two-game series with a lineup that featured many of the team’s regulars, including reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts, MLS Defender of the Year finalist Omar Gonzalez and US national team star Landon Donovan.
Chris Birchall and Juan Pablo Angel scored first-half goals as the Galaxy easily dispatched of their Canadian brethren.
On Tuesday, the Galaxy sent out several newcomers such as Miguel Lopez, Hector Jimenez and Chad Barrett, and got goals from Barrett and Adam Cristman.
Was the Galaxy’s intentions then to have the starters play on Monday and the backups play Tuesday?
“Not necessarily,” Onalfo said. “Part of preseason – especially when you have a lot of new players – is to make evaluations and try to figure out what the best combinations are and try different sorts of things. For us, it’s a continuing evolution of us evaluating the group, seeing guys in different positions so that we can make sure that we have what we feel is a very competitive team to start the season.”
One of the combinations the team tried out was pairing Donovan and Ángel up top together, which led to a Barrett-Mike Magee pairing Tuesday. Cristman, who came on in the second half, also has clamored for attention along with Tuesday’s starters, making the race for the second starting forward a competitive one.
“[Barrett] missed a couple of days of training so for us it was great to get him back on the field and it was nice to see him score a goal,” Onalfo said. “We thought he worked extremely well and will continue to get fitter."
The Galaxy will return to The Home Depot Center on Thursday and will welcome back David Beckham, who is slated to train with the club for the first time in 2011. Afterward, they will have a match against Mexican second-division side Xoloitzcuintles of Tijuana, scheduled for March 2 in San Diego.
Having been able to spend time in Arizona was beneficial to the club, Onalfo said.
“We got ourselves away from Los Angeles for a period of time and it’s a great time to team-build and bond as a group off the field and on the field, make sure we move along physically to continue to get better from a physical standpoint, from a technical standpoint and a tactical standpoint,” he said. “We certainly achieved what we wanted to so, from that standpoint, we would certainly say it was successful.”
Watch: Recap from Tuesday's 2-0 win over Vancouver