CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget wasn’t kidding when he called the team’s recent heavy schedule “a grind.”
The Galaxy will be playing their third match in less than a week in Friday’s latest edition of the California Clasico against the San Jose Earthquakes at StubHub Center (8 p.m., UniMas). Lletget has been trying to adjust to the mental and physical demands of the matches, and it definitely has not been easy.
- BUY NOW:Click here to buy tickets
“It’s been like a blur,” said Lletget, who has scored four goals and has been nothing short of sensational since his arrival in May. “It seems like every other day it’s a new match.
“I’m walking down a new tunnel in another city or at home. It’s crazy.”
The Galaxy defeated Club America 2-1 in the International Champions Cup last Saturday, followed by a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday in Sandy, Utah, and they won’t be getting any breaks from the schedule anytime soon. After Friday’s game they play FC Barcelona in another ICC match at a sold-out Rose Bowl Stadium next Tuesday, followed by an MLS match four days later in Houston.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said he has been impressed with how his side has been holding up lately. It’s been almost like a whirlwind, with the addition of former Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard, the compact schedule and now the impending arrival of Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos, who officially joined the club this week and is expected to make his debut early next month.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Arena said. “It seems like the whole season has been like that. To date we haven’t had our team together yet. We’re hopeful by the time August comes around we’re going to have an opportunity to put our full team on the field and get them moving together.
“It’s been difficult but our team has responded great throughout this. Tomorrow’s an important game. If we’re able to get three points I think we’ll position ourselves for the final run.”
The Galaxy (8-6-7, tied for fourth in the West with Portland), take on a San Jose team (7-7-4, seventh in the West) that has suffered consecutive shutout losses and clearly is missing leading scorer Chris Wondolowski (nine goals), who is with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup. The Galaxy are missing four players because of that competition – Omar Gonzalez, Gyasi Zardes, Alan Gordon and Jaime Penedo.
Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza said player absences and the recent schedule have been enough to leave him shaking his head.
“Right how it seems like we’re playing weekend, weekday, weekend, weekday,” he said. “It would be nice to get a week of training and get to know one another better, integrate Gerrard and Dos Santos when he comes.
“I’m sure it would be a good team,” he added with a laugh. “We’ve just got to keep our heads up and keep fighting.”
Gerrard, who will make his MLS debut on Friday, said he is anxious to get a first-hand look at the rivalry between the Galaxy and Earthquakes, regarded as one of the league’s best. He’s played in some legendary derbies in the past, especially the battles between his old club, Liverpool, and city rival Everton.
“They were very aggressive, very intense within the city,” he said. “I’m sure once the whistle blows there will be some good tackles and some good battles going on. I’m ready for that.”