CARSON, Calif. – It has been an unusual week for the LA Galaxy.
Training sessions have been comprised of just a handful of players and consisted of little more than small-sided games because more than half the team was in Cary, N.C., for Wednesday night’s loss to the Carolina RailHawks in the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup. Additionally, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane and Oscar Sorto are all away on international duty.
And now the two-time defending MLS Cup champions fly across the country to take on a team they that is unbeaten in their last four games in all competitions and not allowed a goal in the league for more than 200 minutes, the New England Revolution, on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (1:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network, AM 1150, 1330 AM LIVECHAT).
Despite all of that, the Galaxy are anxious to get back on the field, especially in the wake of last Sunday’s impressive 4-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC.
“We’re starting to play better,” said Landon Donovan, who was one of seven healthy players to remain with Bruce Arena and Dave Sarachan in Southern California. “I think we played pretty well in the Philly game (a 4-1 win), we played a good game against New York (a last-minute 1-0 loss) and we played I think our best game this season against Seattle.
“We’re just excited to get back on the field. It’s been sort of a different week with only a few guys here all week, but we’re excited to get there and play.”
What the Galaxy (6-4-2, 20 points, fourth in the West) will find in the Revolution (4-4-4, 16 points, tied for sixth in the East with Columbus) is a club that has scored only 10 goals, third-fewest in MLS, and allowed a league-low nine.
“It’s a strange team,” Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini said. “They haven’t conceded much, nine goals, and they’re not scoring much, but still they are sixth or seventh in the standings.
“It’s going to be tough, especially after a long trip.”
The Revolution, coming off a 5-1 victory over the Rochester Rhinos in the U.S. Open Cup, are 3-1-2 in their last six games. Their defense has been getting strong play from the likes of goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who has a 0.90 goals-against average and five shutouts, and rookie Andrew Farrell, who was taken No. 1 overall in this year’s MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Louisville and has started 11 of 12 games.
While defensive prowess from a Jay Heaps coached team has surprised few, his team’s struggles in front of goal have proven more perplexing. Diego Fagundez, the team’s first-ever Homegrown signing, leads New England with four goals but with players like Saer Sene, Lee Nguyen, Juan Toja and Jerry Bengston available, not to mention the newly-acquired Juan Agudelo, the Revolution’s early season scoring woes could be a thing of the past.
Cudicini said he is expecting a tough test, not only in the Revolution and their FieldTurf surface, but also trying to follow such a stirring victory as last Sunday’s win over the Sounders.
“We all want to try to be a bit more consistent,” he said. “I think that’s what we missed in the first half of the season. We had great results and lost games we probably shouldn’t.
“Now after a great win we want to try to be more consistent and get a result on Sunday.”