CARSON, Calif. – Welcome to another week with the LA Galaxy, which means only one thing: little, if any, time off.
The Galaxy, fresh off a 3-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at The Home Depot Center, returned for a brief training session on Monday before making a six-hour flight to Costa Rica for Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League Group A match against LD Alajuelense. Then, just hours after completing that game, it’s another six-hour flight to Columbus, Ohio for Saturday’s league clash with the Crew.
The upcoming schedule doesn’t get any easier, either. The Galaxy return to action on Sept. 28 against Morelia in the Champions League before hosting Real Salt Lake in an all-important MLS clash on Oct. 1. They will then fly to New York to take on the Red Bulls on Oct. 4 in a game that was postponed from Aug. 28 because of Hurricane Irene, completing a spell of nine games in 30 days for the club.
Only after the Red Bulls game do the Galaxy get a break, 12 days off before they play Chivas USA on Oct. 16, though that starts a stretch of three games in eight days, that will see the club travel to Honduras to face Motagua (in the Champions League) on Oct. 20 before ending the regular season in Houston on Oct. 23.
But before Bruce Arena can even begin to worry about any of that, he must first get his team through the two matches on offer this week.
“This is certainly unique,” he said of this week’s trip. “Certainly challenges with the travel and the number of games in a short period of time, but it’s not anything we weren’t aware of. This is something we’ve talked about since the beginning of the year. It hasn’t come up and absolutely surprised us. We’ve been well aware of the challenges we were going to face.”
Arena wouldn’t call this trip any more difficult than any of the others this season.
“They’re all tough,” he said, “but these games are certainly different. You’re going into different countries; you have different kinds of officiating, different styles of play.
“There’s a lot of variables there that are certainly different than being involved in league play.”
Adam Cristman, the only Galaxy player to score a goal in all five of the club’s competitions this year – the MLS regular season, the MLS Reserve League, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League and the Herbalife World Football Challenge – said the team has handled the additional games well to this point.
“The workload does add up,” he said. “Having two games a week is a lot more mentally draining and you’re constantly focusing on that. Then you’re focusing on regeneration and preparation again. The days of just training and getting out and enjoying it, those are a little more farther apart, I guess.
“I think we’re doing well with it.”
Chad Barrett agreed with his fellow forward and has been impressed with the Galaxy’s adaptability and resilience in facing such a compacted schedule.
“As hard as it probably was to plan our schedule with all the competitions, I feel like everybody did a good job,” he said. “The type of team we have this year, putting so many players in the starting lineup when people are gone or hurt, I think it’s really helped us be a lot fresher than we probably should be right now.
“It’s obviously great we’re at the top of the standings in the league. It gives us a little more leeway to push harder in the Champions League, but it’s hard juggling it. I think overall we’re as fresh as we could be right now.”