CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have used several different center back combinations this season, but some stability might be on the forefront soon.
WATCH: Leonardo, Perk, Onalfo talk returns
Leonardo is quickly regaining his health and could be activated from the disabled list in the near future. The Brazilian center back played 45 minutes in the Galaxy’s Reserve League match against San Jose on Tuesday, the longest stint since he tore knee ligaments in April 2011.
“There’s a lot of meanings and purposes for reserve games, and one is to bring guys back from injury,” Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo said. “For Leo, it was great to get him out there for 45 minutes and he looked really good."
Leonardo was on his way toward blossoming into a standout MLS defender when he tore multiple knee ligaments in stoppage time against Chicago on April 17, 2011. His injury kept him away from the Galaxy for the remainder of 2011 and, due to a setback early in his rehabilitation, prolonged his absence well into 2012.
He played for the first time in a scrimmage against the LA Blues on April 24, but featured for only 15 minutes. Against the Quakes, Leonardo started and held his own in central defense for the first half.
“That’s a positive sign,” Onalfo said. “He’s really picked up his play and has looked closer to game form in the last couple of weeks, and I think you saw that.”
In an effort to replace Omar Gonzalez, out indefinitely with a knee injury, the Galaxy have used rookie Tommy Meyer and Chivas USA cast-offs Andrew Boyens and David Júnior Lopes alongside A.J. DeLaGarza in all but one match.
Perk back in the mix
He may be considered the LA Galaxy’s third-string goalkeeper, but Brian Perk is a red card or injury away from being the man in goal for the defending champs.
Fully recovered from sports hernia surgery that kept him out of action for more than a month, Perk is now ready to assume his role as backup goalkeeper to Bill Gaudette given the absence of starter Josh Saunders due to personal reasons.
Perk played 90 minutes in the Galaxy’s Reserve League match on Tuesday, and the 22-year-old shot-stopper faced a penalty kick against the Quakes – twice actually. San Jose’s Sercan Güvenisik took a spot kick but had to take it again after a teammate encroached. Perk was unable to stop either attempt, but was no worse for the wear.
“It felt great going through the motions and everything," said Perk, adding that he hardly felt his injury at all. "I didn’t have much to do. ... It was good for me just to get 90 in. It’s just one of those things where you came out and see how it reacts and if it’s fine, it’s fine.”
League pool goalkeeper Brian Rowe filled in on the Galaxy's bench in last weekend's 1-0 home loss to the New York Red Bulls.
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.