CARSON, Calif. – A.J. DeLaGarza is in his fourth season with the LA Galaxy and has gotten used to high-profile matches like Tuesday’s friendly against English Premier League powerhouse Tottenham Hotspur at The Home Depot Center at 7:30 p.m. (KDOC, KWHY, 1330 AM, LIVE CHAT).
But that doesn’t mean the thrill is gone. He still thinks back to his rookie year, when he went up against Ronaldinho, then with AC Milan, and a short time later matched up with Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry, at that time a member of Barcelona. He also has participated in matches against the likes of Real Madrid (the Galaxy take on the Spanish giant again on Aug. 2 at The Home Depot Center) and Boca Juniors.
WATCH: Galaxy preview Spurs match
“We get a little spoiled here with these kinds of games,” he said with a grin after Monday’s light training session.
The Galaxy, who will be without Landon Donovan and David Beckham, each of who will participate in the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park in Philadelphia on Wednesday, face a Tottenham side that finished fourth in the Premier League (equaling the side’s best-ever finish) last season and has a new manager in Andre Villas-Boas, former head man with Chelsea and FC Porto who took over earlier this month.
Spurs brought a 24-man roster on their preseason U.S. tour which begins against the Galaxy and continues with games against English Premier League rival Liverpool on Saturday in Baltimore, Md., and next Tuesday in New York against the Red Bulls.
Highlighting Villas-Boas’ squad are the likes of former U.S. National Team goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who holds the EPL record for most consecutive starts (304); forward Jermain Defoe, who has 48 caps for England; Welsh standout Gareth Bale, Dutch international Rafael Van der Vaart; Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, who scored in a 2-0 victory over English third-tier Stevenage in Tottenham’s preseason opener; and club captain Michael Dawson.
Dawson replaces long-time captain Ledley King, who retired last week because of a chronic knee injury. King made 323 appearances for Spurs since his debut in 1999 and spent his entire career with the London-based club after joining it as a 14-year-old.
DeLaGarza said there is a lot the Galaxy can learn from facing teams such as Tottenham.
“Just how fast they play, how they spread the field, how they keep the ball,” he said. “Little things like that. They have a lot of guys who can go at you, one on one.
“It’s going to be exciting.”
Tuesday’s game figures to be particularly special for the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane, who played for Spurs from 2002-2008 and again from 2009-2011 and scoring more than 100 goals for the club in all competitions.
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“I’m obviously looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a club I have big affiliation towards and I had a successful time there as a player. Obviously I’m looking forward to playing against the players I’ve played with a long time.”
Keane said he had his priorities in order – specifically, Saturday’s MLS match on the road against FC Dallas – but Tuesday’s match is meaningful nonetheless, despite the fact the Galaxy will be playing three games in a week and nothing is at stake against the Spurs.
“It’s probably not a game, to be honest, the players really need,” Keane said. “It’s more for Tottenham for preseason preparation. It’s one of those things that have to be done.
“We have to respect the other team we’re playing. No matter what game you’re involved in, you want to win. That would certainly be the case tomorrow. We don’t want Tottenham to come over here and walk over us.
“It’s not a game we’re taking lightly. We want to win.”