CARSON, Calif. – A red card suspension to Leonardo has created a vacancy in the center of the LA Galaxy defense for this weekend’s match against Sporting Kansas City and who fills it may help LA snap their recent four-game winless run.
One of the primary options is A.J. DeLaGarza, who has started all nine of the Galaxy’s matches in 2013 across all competitions. A staple in the LA back four at central defense, DeLaGarza has primarily played at right back this year making six of his nine appearances out wide.
With Leonardo suspended and the Galaxy developing a habit of conceding late goals— seven of the eight goals allowed this season have come in the last 12 minutes of games—a return to the pairing of DeLaGarza and Gonzalez may be necessary.
“It’s something that we’ve done for years now. We’ve had Todd, myself, Sean and Omar back there for a number of years now so we’re all comfortable and know each other pretty well,” said DeLaGarza. “If that happens, we have to get back to what we’re good at, which is shutting opponents down for 90 minutes plus.”
If DeLaGarza is stationed at center back, it could help LA shut down an athletic Sporting attack led by Graham Zusi and Claudio Bieler. Known for his speed and positioning, DeLaGarza is aptly suited to stop Sporting’s fleet-footed attackers
That may not be the only benefit for DeLaGarza, who admits to feeling more confident at central defense than he is out wide.
“I’m probably more confident in that I know the game better from that position,” said DeLaGarza. “In terms of reading the game well and just giving the ball to people who are going to make the plays for us in Juninho and Marcelo [Sarvas] instead of me trying to be a playmaker from the center back spot.”