CARSON, Calif. — A full week between legs in the Western Conference Championship is something of a luxury for the LA Galaxy, who play so many of what head coach Bruce Arena calls “three games in a week” — weekend, midweek, weekend — and seem to thrive when they're doing so.
They took Monday and Tuesday off after a 22-day stretch with seven games, five of them victories, and were relishing a seven-day break before Sunday's second leg against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
“We’ve played about 50 games in the last two weeks — that’s how it feels,” David Beckham said after Sunday's 3-0 victory at The Home Depot Center. “It’s nice to get a week in between each game because you can recover from any little niggles or injuries that you’ve picked up in these latest games. But sometimes you want it to come a bit quicker.”
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The Galaxy have a few injury concerns — Landon Donovan (hamstring), Juninho (Achilles' tendon) and Edson Buddle (knee) have joined the list — but hope to be at full strength come Sunday with the exception of injured defender A.J. DeLaGarza. They'll then have two weeks off until the Dec. 1 MLS Cup final, as long as they complete the triumph over the Sounders.
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“We definitely deserve a break to let our bodies heal a little bit ...,” said LA midfielder Mike Magee. “We need it, and not only do I need it, but some other guys need it as well. Landon got a little banged up at the end, Juninho. And I know [the Sounders] are banged up, too, but I like our chances when our team is at our best.”
The Galaxy have been at their best on short rest, at least since they awakened following the early-June break. When playing some variant of weekend/weekday/weekend, they went 1-8-2 in all competitions before the end of May and 19-4-4 since mid-June. They were 23-8-5 in such games last season.
Donovan thought that contributed to Sunday's victory.
“I think [Seattle were] just tired,” he said. “They played a really hard 90 minutes in Salt Lake, at altitude. They weren't really used to the three-day break like we've been — we've been kind of in a rhythm right now — and I know they had to travel home and travel back here, so I think all that played into it.”
The Galaxy captain noted it was “going to be a little weird not to play in three days. [After] a couple days off to rest, it's back to work, because we have a big one on Sunday.”
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.