CARSON, Calif. – There is a lot to like about the LA Galaxy. Almost too much, in fact.
They have lost just once in their last 11 games (7-1-3), own the largest goal differential (plus 15) along with allowing the fewest goals (17) in MLS and are tied with Real Salt Lake and Vancouver for fewest losses (four).
So it’s understandable why head coach Bruce Arena was hesitant to single out any particular players entering Friday’s game against the San Jose Earthquakes at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network).
“I don’t think that’s fair to the team,” he said about the Galaxy (9-4-6), who continue their steady climb up the Western Conference standings. They’re now tied for third with FC Dallas at 33 points; Seattle is first with 38, followed by Real Salt Lake (36).
He did finally give in and praised three players – Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez. Zardes, who has seven goals in his past eight matches, has formed a lethal partnership with the always-dangerous Keane, whose 12 goals are fourth in MLS behind New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips (18) and Sporting Kansas City’s Dom Dwyer and Chivas USA’s Erick Torres, each of whom have 14.
Then there is Gonzalez, the central defender who’s finally recovered from a sprained right ankle. He teamed up with center back partner A.J. DeLaGarza for the duo’s 29th victory all-time (against just eight losses and 13 ties) in last Saturday’s come-from-behind 3-1 victory over the Portland Timbers.
“I think we’re playing well on both sides of the ball,” Arena said. “Defensively we’ve been air-tight. In the attack we’re finally converting the opportunities we’ve created, so we’re starting to score goals.
“You look back over the last four games, we had five (goals) against New England, one against Kansas City, three against Seattle and three against Portland. That’s good production.”
Keane said he couldn’t think of another run of success when the Galaxy has played so well for so long. He also said this is no time to back off.
“It’s important we continue what we have been doing,” he said. “Once we do that we’ll be OK.”
The Galaxy will be facing an Earthquakes (6-8-5, 23 points) side that is tied for last place in the West with Chivas USA and will be without forward Steven Lenhart, who is expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks after underdoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last Friday. But their lineup is expected to include Chris Wondolowski and Victor Bernardez, who both missed the previous meeting between the teams, a 1-0 Galaxy victory on June 28 played in front of a crowd of 50,006 at Stanford Stadium, because of World Cup duties.
San Jose has struggled on the road – the Earthquakes haven’t won a regular-season game away from home since a 2-1 win at FC Dallas on May 31 – but it is coming off a 1-0 win over visiting Seattle last Saturday, thanks to a goal by Yannick Djalo.
Arena thinks the Galaxy are in for another in a long line of hard-fought contests with their California Clasico rival.
“The Earthquakes are a team that’s better than their record indicates,” he said. “It’s going to be a difficult game. It’s an important game for both teams. It positions us well if we can get three points. For San Jose they need to start getting as many points as possible.”