CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy will play Club Tijuana in an exhibition Tuesday at StubHub Center (8 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet) in what head coach Curt Onalfo calls “part of your progression.”
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Onalfo, who replaced Bruce Arena during the off-season, doesn’t view it as a measuring stick, considering the Galaxy aren’t even two weeks into the MLS preseason and Club Tijuana, popularly known as the Xolos, are tied for first with Pumas UNAM in the Torneo Clausura.
“It’s not about being ready on Tuesday against Tijuana,” Onalfo said after training. “It’s about being ready for the start of the season on March 4 against (FC) Dallas and starting the season in a positive way.
“I feel good. We’ve made good progress in every aspect … physically, technically and tactically. And we continue to unify ourselves as a group.”
The Galaxy certainly won’t be fielding a finished team on Tuesday. New acquisitions Romain Alessandrini and Joao Pedro, for example, are overseas awaiting work visas. Gyasi Zardes is out with a bruised knee suffered in the U.S. men’s national team training camp and Jermaine Jones, one of the Galaxy’s major off-season acquisitions, participated in his first practice with the club on Thursday.
Goalkeeper Brian Rowe, coming off a banner year in which he had nine shutouts and earned a call-up to the U.S. national team, said he has liked what he has seen in the revamped five-time MLS Cup champions, despite only recently returning to practice after being released from the U.S. camp.
“Progress is good,” he said. “I think we have a lot of young, hungry guys that are coming in here and trying to prove themselves. There’s a lot of energy out there.
“I’m a little bit late, but the few days I’ve been here the level and the quality has gotten better. It’s definitely a new team and a new look, a new feel. We’re all excited.”
Central defender Jelle Van Damme, who this week signed a contract extension, said he believes the Galaxy will be a “really strong team” once everyone is available.
He said he wasn’t concerned with the Galaxy’s roster revamping that included the retirement of Steven Gerrard and the departures of Robbie Keane, Mike Magee, Jeff Larentowicz and A.J. DeLaGarza, among others.
He feels the changes will work out for the better.
But it will take a little time, he said.
“We have some young guys who are going to be ready to step up when they need to,” Van Dame said. “I think we’re doing great work and everybody has a good mentality.”
He agreed with Onalfo in refusing to put much importance on Tuesday’s match.
“We don’t have to pay attention to the result,” he said. “I mean, I want to win preseason games, but it’s going to be a good workout.
“These are the games you need to become a better team."