CARSON, Calif. – The Galaxy are likely to have the services of Christian Wilhelmsson in Saturday’s important match against Western Conference rival Real Salt Lake.
The Swede was unable to participate in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids, but completed his first full training session on Thursday according to head coach Bruce Arena. The Galaxy head coach told reporters that Wilhelmsson trained for half a session on Wednesday before his first full training session in a week on Thursday.
Even though Arena has said that the Swede is still under evaluation, Wilhelmsson hopes to be available for selection on Saturday.
“I should be ready to be available this week at least,” said Wilhelmsson, who is still listed as questionable on the club’s injury report. “I’m optimistic.”
But Wilhelmsson—who has already scored one goal in two appearances— is tempering his enthusiasm as he looks to prevent another injury.
“Every time that you’re injured or have some problems, you just want to get back as soon as possible, but you cannot rush it or hurry because you could get injured again,” said Wilhelmsson. “You need to take care of what the body tells you and how fast that you can go with them.”
SALT LAKE’S ESPINDOLA A FOCUS FOR GALAXY DEFENSE
Real Salt Lake boasts a series of weapons in the attack, but none is more unique than crafty forward Fabian Espíndola.
The sly Argentine has had plenty of success against LA in the past tallying two goals and three assists in seven games over all competitions against the Galaxy. An elusive player, who likes to drift around the attacking third in search of a scoring opportunity, the Galaxy are well-aware that they must be on their game on Saturday.
“He’s a nuisance for defenders,” said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. “A lot of times, you don’t know where he is and he pops up and he has the ball and he’s running at you. He can pull off special plays and him and [Costa Rican forward Alvaro] Saborío play very well together.”
One of the players tasked with stopping Espíndola will be defender Todd Dunivant, who has tussled with the Argentine numerous times in the past.
“He’s tough to keep track of because he’s moving sometimes to the wing, sometimes up high and sometimes underneath,” said Dunivant. “That’s when he’s at his best when he’s dribbling and making plays and being a distributor as well as a finisher. It causes a lot of headaches for defenses that’s for sure.”
LAST MEETING CRUCIAL TO TURN AROUND
The last time the two teams met, the circumstances were quite different for both sides.
On June 20th, LA stormed into Rio Tinto Stadium near the bottom of the Western Conference standings with a 4-8-2 record while RSL was considered one of the league’s top sides. Despite conceding two goals inside the first 25 minutes of play, LA roared back fueled by the play of Landon Donovan, who scored two goals in a 3-2 victory.
On Thursday, Donovan told reporters that the comeback win over RSL was vital to LA’s summer resurgence that has seen them go 12-3-3 since mid-June, climbing to third in the West .
“I think that it gave us come belief to go down there and get a result after being down 2-0,” said Donovan. “It’s a big feat and what really helps is that if we play them in the playoffs, we have the belief that we can go down there and do it again so that’s good.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org