CARSON, Calif. – Perhaps not surprisingly, the LA Galaxy’s offense is coming together.
The club has scored five goals in the last two games as they have surged to the top of the Western Conference table.
However, while the goal-scoring is predictable, the circumstances aren’t – four of the last five goals have come with Designated Player Juan Pablo Ángel on the bench.
Chad Barrett and Miguel López have paired together to start each of the last two games as the Galaxy scored two goals for the first time this season against Chicago, then scored three goals for the first time a week later in a 3-0 whitewash of Portland.
Ángel said prior to the Portland match that not starting was not something that bothered him.
“I’m fine with it,” he said. “It’s going to be a long season, we’re going to have a lot of competitions and this is a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”
Without Ángel on the field, Barrett and López have combined well together. In their two starts, the Southern California native Barrett has scored twice while the Argentine López picked up a pair of assists. None of those happened with Ángel on the field.
The Barrett-López combination has worked well because the two players have connected well and have somewhat contrasting styles that complement each other, Barrett said.
“There is a language barrier," said Barrett. "I don’t speak too much Spanish and he doesn’t speak much English, but we do a great job linking up. He’s kind of the guy who likes to float underneath and I like to stay high, I like to see the balls through. He’s a great asset to this team, is a big part of this team.”
For his part, Barrett said he’s not too concerned about the look of the starting lineup so long as his name is on it.
“I don’t want to keep anyone on the bench, but I want to keep myself on the field,” he said. “If I can get on the field and I can keep helping the team win games, that’s all I’m here to do.”
Barrett had struggled in the early going this season, not scoring until the Galaxy’s sixth game. He had squandered several opportunities in the early part of the year and had shuffled in and out of the starting lineup. Now, though, he’s doing what he’d hoped to have been doing all along.
“This is what I needed," said Barrett. "This is the way I wish I would have started the season. The conditions at the start of the season were less than spectacular. It was a beautiful day [on Saturday] for soccer. All the pieces are starting to fall. I’m starting to gel with my teammates which is more important to me right now.”
Still, while Barrett and López have done well to help jumpstart the Galaxy’s attack, Ángel will undoubtedly contribute, particularly if López is unable to recover from a slight injury he suffered against Portland.
“[Ángel is] a great player. He’s going to find his way back on the field one way or the other," said Barrett. "He had a great play when he came in and if López is hurt and you have Ángel to step in, that’s not a bad thing. Ángel is one of the greats, so playing alongside him, it’s been a learning experience and a pleasure.”
Ángel replaced López at halftime of the Galaxy’s 3-0 win over Portland and assisted on the Galaxy’s final goal, picking Landon Donovan out from the end line. The two players have their differences, but each is more than capable of producing.
“Miguel is younger, faster and his feet are quick, probably like Juan used to be back in the day,” Barrett said. “But Juan’s got that technical ability in front of the goal that can’t be matched. It’s kind of like [Cuauhtémoc] Blanco. I was so surprised by how slow he was, but he always created space, he always did great things, and that’s the way Juan is.”