CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy packed their bags and hit the road on Thursday morning for a week-long road trip that will see them take on the Columbus Crew and the Colorado Rapids.
LA’s two-game road swing is the longest the team will embark upon this season and the start of a pivotal six-game in 15-day stretch for the club to close out the month of August.
Such long road trips are uncommon for the Galaxy due to head coach Bruce Arena’s “get in and get out” mentality when it comes to traveling, but with two matches in quick succession in the heart of middle of America, the LA boss’ initial plans were overruled.
“Originally my thoughts were that we’d come home [after Saturday’s match against the Crew] and then go to Colorado, but the players convinced me that it’d be better to stay on the road,” said Arena.
One of the Galaxy players instrumental in convincing Arena to extend the trip beyond the usual two to three day length was Landon Donovan, who credits such lengthy stints on the road as being vital for the team’s mentality heading into the stretch run.
“We wanted to make sure that we could stay away so that we could keep the team together and have some time away,” said Donovan. "It’s always nice to have some time during the season to get away.
“When you’re home for a long time, the guys get away from training and they go home and you lose a bit of that team camaraderie, but when you’re on the road, the guys are together every day,” he added. “It’s good for bonding for the last stretch of the season to be able to relax in a more intimate setting.”
Galaxy captain Robbie Keane agreed that with two games in quick succession—and more once they return from the trip—it was better for the team to remain out east.
“Now and again in the season, it’s good that the team gets away for a week and has the [chance] to bond,” Keane said. “I think that it’s good sometimes, not all the times. [The trip is] only going to be good if you get points on the board and if we get a win on Saturday, it’ll set us up nicely for the Wednesday game [against Colorado]. It’s certainly going to be a tough week and we have to make sure that we keep ourselves involved and put the points on the board.”
If the Galaxy can get “points on the board” as Keane notes, it’ll put them in improved straits as they embark upon a series of matches that the Irishman believes will ultimately decide their season.
“[Schedule congestion] is always challenging but the good thing is that we have a good squad of players that can step up if they’re called upon,” said Keane. “This month is vital and will determine where people are going to be [at the end of the season]. We have to make sure that we keep ourselves [competitive] and I’m sure that the way that we’re playing at the moment; we’re going to set ourselves up nicely.”