CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Chad Barrett didn’t have to be reminded the club’s regular season opener in Seattle is only a week from Tuesday. Head coach Bruce Arena did that for him.
Arena was quite vocal during Monday’s training session as he criticized poor communication across the back line, pointed out spotty passing and wasted scoring opportunities and generally sounded a little more animated than usual.
“The anticipation is building. You could really tell that today,” said Barrett, who came to LA from Toronto FC in one of several notable offseason moves. “He was yelling at us right from the get-go, from the very first pass.
“It really woke me up and I know it woke a couple of other guys up and got training going. I like that. It just shows you straight from the top it’s time to go.”
It’s not as if the Galaxy have been performing badly in preseason – they have shut out four of their nine opponents, including a 4-0 win over the Canadian U-23 National Team last Friday, and lost just once – but time definitely is running out before the games start to count. Arena admitted he’s getting a little anxious for the season to kick off Tuesday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Seattle’s Qwest Field (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com) against the Western Conference rival Sounders FC.
“I think it’s time to get on and just play,” Arena said Monday. “There’s only so much of this (training) you could be doing. I think we’ve had enough; we might as well get on to league matters and win some games.”
Arena, now in his third full season with the club, said he’s generally been pleased with the Galaxy’s preseason progress.
“I think we’re moving along,” he said. “I think we’re not any different than a lot of teams in the league that have a lot of unknowns at this point. We’re starting a little bit earlier than most of the teams, and it’s pushed us a little quicker to be ready.
“I think we’re moving along OK, but we’re going to find out, right?”
Landon Donovan, about to begin his seventh season in with the club and coming off a year in which he led MLS with a career-high 16 assists, said the Galaxy are “close” to being ready for next week’s opener.
He also said last Wednesday’s exhibition loss to Mexican side Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente (4-3 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation) in front of more than 6,000 fans at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium was excellent preparation and let the Galaxy know where they’re still somewhat lacking – specifically, match fitness.
“It was a really good test for us,” he said of the defeat. “We found out for about 65 or 70 minutes we were pretty good, then we got tired. We’re in our final stretches of getting fitness down, and I think by Tuesday we’ll be ready.”
Donovan said he also can’t wait for preseason to end and games that really matter to begin.
“It was fun to play under the lights again and put the real jersey on,” he said. “Thinking about it, it’s been over three months since we last did that, and I don’t think I’ve ever had that long a stretch without playing a real game.
“We’re close. If we can get closer to 90 minutes fit by Tuesday, I think we’ll be in a good shape.”
Join the Galaxy as they Countdown to Kickoff with a series of events and appearances for fans in the community. Galaxy players, staff, Miss LA Galaxy Court members and Galaxy Street Team will be active throughout the week engaging with fans, the public and media in order to thank them for their support and to raise awareness for the start of the 2011 MLS season. For the full schedule and and opportunities to meet the Galaxy players, visit www.lagalaxy.com/caravan.