CARSON, Calif. – In the humidity at RFK Stadium on Sunday, the LA Galaxy plodded along to a 2-2 draw with Eastern Conference bottom feeder D.C. United, but as the team turns the page, the Galaxy are determined not to let that occur again.
LA went up early as Landon Donovan masterfully connected with Robbie Keane for the Irishman’s 13th goal of the season, but after the Galaxy went up the team struggled. After Chris Pontius capitalized on an error by Omar Gonzalez, D.C. controlled the match until Michael Stephens put LA ahead in the 81st minute. The celebration lasted three minutes as D.C. soon equalized to hold on for the result.
Throughout the match, the Galaxy were admittedly sluggish as the typically crisp-passing side completed just 74 percent of their passes and lagged behind in possession with United controlling by a 59.1 to 40.9 margin.
“I think, for some reason, the whole team kind of had heavy legs today, particularly our midfield,” said defender Omar Gonzalez. “I thought D.C.’s midfield was winning a lot of the second balls and typically you'll see that from Marcelo [Sarvas] and Juninho—usually they're the ones that are winning everything. But I think all of us didn't play well together, but we still got the point and we didn't lose.”
So just how do the Galaxy avoid their RFK stagnation from affecting them on Wednesday in their CONCACAF Champions League match against Isidro Metapán or Saturday’s clash with Seattle Sounders FC? Well, rotation may be the answer.
Over the past several weeks workhorses like Todd Dunivant, Juninho, Sarvas, and Gyasi Zardes have logged heavy minutes while LA’s international quartet each returned on Saturday after taxing World Cup qualifying campaigns. With many dealing with fatigue, the Galaxy’s depth will be tested starting with Wednesday’s clash against Metapán.
Whether it’s giving minutes to forwards Chandler Hoffman and Charlie Rugg or mixing up the midfield to give the Brazilians a much deserved breather, squad rotation seems to be the name of the game for the Galaxy this week.
“We've done this before, so we'll find the right kind of balance,” said LA head coach Bruce Arena. “The exercise this week is use the roster in a way that we can position ourselves to win two games.”
A failure in that “exercise” and the Galaxy may just relieve the type of malaise that plagued them against United, which may cost them standing in two vital competitions.
“It’s a big week for us, a really big week, and a lot of guys are going to have their number called,” said forward Landon Donovan, who is facing a fitness test after suffering an ankle injury against United. “It’s going to be a week where we have to use quite a bit of players. The Metapán game we have to win—we win that game and we're in good shape in the group. And if we want to have a chance of catching Seattle we'll have to win on Saturday.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com