CARSON, Calif. – While his teammates were enjoying three days off for the Thanksgiving holiday, LA Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza was hard at work with his sights set firmly on making the game day roster for Saturday’s MLS Cup.
The 25-year-old centerback has been sidelined with sprained left MCL since September, but resumed training prior to LA’s Conference Championship series with Seattle Sounders FC. With less than a week until MLS Cup, DeLaGarza admits that his condition is improving.
“I’m good. I’ve been training the last week or so, but I’ve been doing fitness for a couple weeks before that,” said DeLaGarza on Sunday. “Right now, I’m just trying to get my timing back, I gave up a PK [in training] today so it wasn’t good.”
As part of his quest to return to full health, DeLaGarza was one of several LA Galaxy players including forward Edson Buddle, who came in on Saturday for fitness work ahead of the final week of preparation for Saturday’s final against the Houston Dynamo. Although he remains listed as out on the club’s injury report—which will be updated for the first time since Nov. 16 on Tuesday—DeLaGarza believes that the holiday break may have helped his recovery.
“I’ve been running a lot, so maybe it helped me. I only took two days off, I did fitness yesterday so I didn’t take it completely off,” DeLaGarza said. “I was riding a bike and doing a little bit of stuff. I feel like I’ve already had my offseason, I didn’t play for a month so I’m just trying to get back into it.”
In DeLaGarza’s absence, rookie centerback Tommy Meyer has flourished alongside Omar Gonzalez, starting LA’s last nine matches since DeLaGarza’s injury. Even though DeLaGarza has repeatedly stated that he has the utmost confidence in Meyer’s abilities, he’s hopeful that he’ll be able to—at the very least—suit up on the bench come Saturday.
“That’s my goal, to be able to dress and be able to help the team if I can, no matter where that might be,” asserted DeLaGarza. “If that’s just a role player or playing, I’m ready for whatever.”