CARSON, Calif. – There is no truth to the rumor that the MLS schedule-makers had some sort of vendetta against the Galaxy when the 2011 season was put together, but they certainly didn’t do head coach Bruce Arena and his players any favors.
The Galaxy have played more games, 13, than any team in the league. Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City, in comparison, have played only eight. The Galaxy also are tied with Sporting for most road games, eight, although they yet to play a match at home while awaiting the completion of their new home, LIVESTRONG Park, which is scheduled to open early next month.
Throw in last month’s 10-day road trip that took the Galaxy to D.C. United, Toronto FC and Chicago and it’s surprising they fared as well as they have, with a 6-2-5 record and first place in the Western Conference to their credit.
Things don’t figure to get easier anytime soon. Following Wednesday’s game against the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center (7:30 p.m., PRIME TICKET), the Galaxy make a long trip to Boston for a Saturday night game against the New England Revolution.
Arena said it hasn’t been as bad as he initially thought, although he also admitted he is dreading August and September when CONCACAF Champions League matches kick in. July won’t be much easier, either, because of high-profile exhibitions against Real Madrid (July 16 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, TICKETS) and Manchester City (July 24 at The Home Depot Center, TICKETS).
There also are U.S. Open Cup matches that start late next month.
“I think for the most part our guys have done well,” Arena said. “We could have had a few more points out of this whole thing this year, but for the most part we’ve done well. We just have to see if we can get through this week and get some results.”
Arena said there are no real guidelines for dealing with such a demanding schedule of games.
“It’s all touch and feel,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a whole lot of science to it. You’ve just got to take it one game at a time and try and make decisions that make sense.”
What he said did make sense, surprisingly, was the 10-day trip back East was the most logical part of the schedule to date.
“That was probably the best part of this whole schedule,” he said. “We’re on the east coast and then we get to play in what are almost local venues in Toronto and Chicago to follow. When we go across country it would be nice if we add another game instead of coming right back. We had to go to Philadelphia (on May 11) and then come right back and play Kansas City (May 14). My preference would be [go to] Philadelphia and D.C. or New York, whatever. That kills two birds with one stone.”
Midfielder Chris Birchall said the schedule has been difficult from a physical standpoint, but it’s also been a blessing in disguise.
“We’d rather get these long trips out of the way than have them still to come,” he said. “You have to try and not think of it in a clump of games. It’s been hard on the body, and that’s where the strength and depth of the squad need to come in.”
Added goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, “Sometimes when you play in a professional environment you get stretches like this, but I think our coaches have managed it well. I think it’s taken a toll, but we can see the light so we keep on pushing.
“I’m good to go now.”