CARSON, Calif. – It is less than two weeks before the two-time defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy open the regular season against the Chicago Fire, and their approach during training camp remains the same: get match fit.
Tuesday night’s preseason game against a reserve squad from reigning Liga MX champion Club Tijuana at The Home Depot Center (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable Deportes, KWKW 1330 AM, lagalaxy.com/live) provides the latest opportunity of preparation.
“Just basically giving as many players as we can a run tomorrow,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said regarding his take on the game against the Mexican side. “A lot of players will play 45 minutes.”
Five Galaxy players – goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, defenders Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant and midfielder Mike Magee – went well beyond that on Saturday, going the full 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Gangwon FC of Korea’s K-League.
Dunivant said Tuesday’s game was important for the long term.
“We’re building toward March 3,” he said. “A bunch of guys got 90 minutes in the last game against the Korean team, and hopefully we can get a few more with 90 in this game. It’s building a squad, too, because we’re going to need that for the (CONCACAF) Champions League.
“We’re going to need a full team, ready to go. The biggest importance is getting guys match fit. Being less than two weeks from the start of the season, it’s another opportunity to do that.”
In Club Tijuana, popularly known as the “Xolos,” the Galaxy will not be facing its first team. Tijuana’s best players are in Bogota, Colombia facing Millonarios in their opening match of Copa Libertadores, regarded as the most prestigious club competition in South America.
Tijuana is currently tied for fourth with Pachuca in the Mexican League, just four points behind first-place Tigres.
The Galaxy’s Robbie Keane, who returned Sunday from Ireland, where he attended to family matters, said he knew nothing about the Mexican side that they were going to face on Tuesday night. He just knows what the Galaxy need to focus on, and it’s all about getting in game shape for the season opener.
“It’s preseason. The most important thing is getting 90 minutes or however many minutes, getting fitness for two weeks time,” he said. “Of course you want to play stronger opposition to be tested, so it’s what you put into the game what you get out of it.”
All fans are invited to attend a town hall inside the gates in section 132 at 6:30 p.m. with Head Coach Bruce Arena, President Chris Klein and AEG Sports COO Kelly Cheeseman.