Before a knee injury felled him in late September, A.J. DeLaGarza was of the constants on the LA Galaxy in the starting XI and ahead of the 2013 campaign; he's hope for more of the same with the back-to-back MLS Cup champions.
During the 2012 MLS Regular Season, DeLaGarza racked up 30 appearances playing nearly exclusively at center back for the Galaxy before his knee injury on Sept. 30 effectively ended his season. In the seasons early months, DeLaGarza became LA’s back four leader with Omar Gonzalez out after undergoing knee surgery. Although he admits it wasn’t always easy, the 25-year-old emerged as a centerback despite playing alongside five different partners in central defense over the course of the season.
With such flux appearing unlikely next season due to health of Gonzalez and the emergence of rookie Tommy Meyer, DeLaGarza is preparing to step up again along the back line.
“I’m about to go into my fifth year right now and if I was in college, I’d be a senior and you’d be a leader,” DeLaGarza recently told LA Galaxy Insider. “With these guys, we have Landon, Robbie and on a back line standpoint, myself, Sean and Todd were in [the lineup] day in and day out with a few other guys. I just need to do better from the start, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish apparently. I think we’d take that start and take this finish, next year.”
With an eye toward next season, DeLaGarza’s lone goal for the offseason is to “stay healthy” ahead of a competitive 2013 preseason which will likely see DeLaGarza battle with Tommy Meyer for the starting spot next to Gonzalez.
That is not the only positional battle that is promised with the departure of David Beckham and continued questions surrounding Landon Donovan and Juninho among others. However, DeLaGarza is confident that LA can battle through any potential adversity—as they did in 2012.
“It happens every year, that’s not to say that some players won’t come back but it happens every year,” said DeLaGarza. “We know that we won’t have David…we don’t know about Landon and a couple of other players, but whoever we have out there will do a tremendous job as we try to win a championship.”