CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy almost are in survival mode as they take on the Puerto Rico Islanders in a CONCACAF Champions League Group 5 game Wednesday (7 p.m., FOX Soccer, 1220 AM, LIVECHAT) at The Home Depot Center.
They will be playing their third match in seven days and, counting Saturday’s MLS battle against the Vancouver Whitecaps, it will be four games in 10 days for the defending champs. SCHEDULE
But despite using almost identical starting lineups in the win over Metapan on Thursday and Sunday’s win over FC Dallas, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena refused to tip his hand in terms of the lineup that he would put out against Puerto Rico on Wednesday night.
“We’ll see,” he said after training on Monday. “We’ll look and see how many players from our first 11 can go and make some changes there.”
While there are undoubtedly some tired legs in the group, the Galaxy are almost completely healthy with only a handful of players being held out of training in the run up to Wednesday night’s game.
Andrew Boyens, Dan Keat and Pat Noonan have each gotten themselves back to full fitness following lengthy spells on the sidelines, while Edson Buddle, who has missed the last 15 games in all competitions after undergoing knee surgery in early June, has been back with the club in training of late as he edges closer to a return to action.
If Buddle is able to return to the field, it will be a reunion of sorts for the forward against a Puerto Rico team that he and his Galaxy teammates faced twice before in the Champions League.
It was almost two years ago when the two sides met in a 2010/11 Champions League Preliminary Round series that the Islanders won 5-3 on aggregate, including a shocking 4-1 victory at The Home Depot Center.
A number of those players return tonight, including David Foley, Nicolas Addlery and Josh Hansen, all of whom scored goals in that series.
The Islanders are in second place in the North American Soccer League behind the San Antonio Scorpions, though they are winless in their last three games, going 0-1-2 in that time while failing to score a single goal.
Despite the Islanders’ recent struggles, Galaxy players are well aware of the recent history between the two clubs making one thing certain. Whoever Arena does select for starting duty definitely will be ready and focused on the task at hand come Wednesday night.
“There will be a lot of energy and a lot of commitment to work hard,” said midfielder Michael Stephens, who came off the bench to assist on Todd Dunivant’s game-clinching goal against FC Dallas. “I don’t think you’ll see anybody out there taking it easy.
“Everybody is looking forward to this opportunity. I think it will be a pretty energetic squad.”