CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are well-aware that they must not only beat the Colorado Rapids on the field on Sunday, but they must also brave the elevation.
Located in Commerce City, Colo., the elevation at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is nearly a mile above sea-level, which could cause some issues for the Galaxy as they look to extend their nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions. To best acclimate to the conditions, the Galaxy are departing from Southern California on Saturday afternoon, a little more than 24 hours from kick off.
But flying only a day ahead isn’t the only strategy that the Galaxy use to alleviate the effects of the altitude.
“You just have to get a hard warm-up in because you want to get tired first and get acclimated to it,” said defender Omar Gonzalez. “I think we’re all pretty used to it, but even though you’re used to it, you have to be mentally strong and fight through it.”
Reaching a “second wind” could be vital for LA as the Rapids’ conditioning in the altitude has provided them with a knack for scoring late goals against tired opponents. However, Gonzalez believes that the Galaxy must focus on themselves rather than the Rapids.
“Sometimes the game can drag out depending on how the game is going and depending on how it is affecting you,” he said. “I think that the way that you got to get through it is to focus on making plays and focus on what you can control, which is how you play your game.
“If you focus on that then the game will go pretty quickly for you.”
WILHELMSSON PROVIDES NEW DIMENSION FOR GALAXY MIDFIELD
In just two matches for the LA Galaxy, Swedish winger Christian Wilhelmsson has already added a new dimension in LA’s dynamic attack.
Sparked by the addition of the versatile Wilhelmsson, the Galaxy midfield has become a place of constant fluid motion and overlap on the flanks. Against Toronto FC, Wilhelmsson—who was stationed on the right to start the match—would often switch flanks with left winger Mike Magee while the Brazilian duo of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas manned the middle of the park.
The fluid movement of Wilhelmsson and Magee perplexed TFC’s young defense and helped LA create Juninho’s opening goal of the game. While the personnel will likely change when David Beckham returns to the Galaxy’s starting XI, Magee welcomes LA’s new attacking dimension.
“There are times where I’ll make a long run across the field and it was nice to see him standing there where I’m supposed to run 80 yards to get to,” said Magee. “That freedom is something that I had in my earlier years when I played with Eddie Gaven [during his time with the MetroStars]. We played really freely and it was enjoyable. It’s hard for defenses and if you get stuck on one side and not finding the ball then you can always switch and float around. It’s been great.”
Although the midfield rotation will likely become common place going forward, Magee believes that Bruce Arena’s system will prevent LA’s midfielders from becoming sloppy defensively as they attempt to adapt to the latest wrinkle in their offense.
“Bruce’s style is so disciplined that although he gives you the freedom to make those runs, you’re so concerned with so many things, like defending,” said Magee. “You have so many jobs that you need to do well to play that you don’t want to make an 80-yard run into no-man’s land. You need to be more disciplined than that.
“With me and Christian, we both know the game well enough that we won’t allow too much liability behind us, but it’s still a work in progress.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com