CARSON, Calif. – There is an old saying, one often used by LA Galaxy coaches and players, that there’s always another game.
That couldn’t ring more true for the two-time defending MLS Cup champions who take on the Columbus Crew on Thursday at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable Sportsnet, Time Warnter Cable Deportes, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT).
The Galaxy (7-7-3, 24 points) are looking at the Crew (5-7-5, 20 points) as an opportunity to not only move up in the Western Conference standings but, more importantly, put last Saturday’s stunning 3-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes behind them.
“I wish we could have played today or yesterday,” central defender A.J. DeLaGarza said after training on Tuesday. “We want to get out there and just play again.”
The Galaxy will be taking on a Crew side that hasn’t won a league road match since mid-May, is seventh in the Eastern Conference and features the dangerous attack duo of Federico Higuain and Dominic Oduro. Oduro has scored a team-best eight goals, including two in the last three games, while Higuain has scored five times while adding four assists.
The Galaxy, however, aren’t as worried about the Crew as they are about themselves. Especially after the collapse in San Jose, which scored two shocking, stoppage-time goals (by Shea Salinas and Alan Gordon) to complete a comeback from a second half 2-0 deficit.
Head coach Bruce Arena, who said he was “embarrassed” by his team’s performance after Saturday’s game, insisted his team played very well … with one notable exception.
“I think the lesson to be learned is the game is 90-plus minutes,” he said. “Our team played very well. They punished themselves; they should have walked off that field with a comfortable win.”
Arena said that he hasn’t tried to figure out the reasons his team continues to have problems closing out games.
“I would never ask myself why,” he said. “I’m very fortunate on good and bad days to be here, I don’t get that disturbed over it. I think the average layman might be thinking that way. I think it’s another challenge.
“The nice part about what we do is there’s always the next game.”
Thursday figures to be particularly special for the Galaxy’s Robbie Rogers, who was a member of the Crew from 2007-2011 and won an MLS Cup with the club in 2008. The 26-year-old midfielder, who has appeared in all seven games that the Galaxy have played since his May 26 debut, admitted he’s been thinking of this game for some time.
“I looked at the schedule definitely, and I checked to see if we were going to Columbus,” he said with a grin. “I remember seeing this game and I thought it was going to be in Columbus. I’m excited to play against them.”
Added left back Todd Dunivant, “It’s a massive game for us and three points we have to have. We have to move forward; it’s kind of nice it’s a short turnaround and everyone’s excited and anxious to get back at it.”