CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy returned to training Thursday for the first time in almost a week and looked at the break as a chance for a fresh start.
The respite certainly gave them an opportunity to forget about a dreadful 3-8-2 start that has left them in last place in the Western Conference and has resulted in many a sleepless night for coaches and players and with questions that still haven’t been answered.
In any event, there was almost universal agreement that the days away from the training field were well-timed. And there’s a little more than a week to go before their next regular-season game June 17 at home against the Portland Timbers.
WATCH: Galaxy Training Update
Head coach Bruce Arena especially welcomed the down time.
“Frankly I think we needed it, with all the games and the travel and the heat we deal with,” he said. “Hopefully it’s a good break for the guys, and obviously the remainder of the year will tell where we are.
"We’ll wait and see.”
Added veteran Pat Noonan, “It was a much-needed break. Results haven’t been going our way, and hopefully it gave guys a chance to get away for a bit, clear their minds.
“We had a lot of games and we had a lot of guys putting in a lot of minutes. Hopefully we can come out of this break around the right way.”
Things don’t figure to get much easier soon, however. Following the game against the Timbers, the Galaxy play at Real Salt Lake three days later, followed by a home match against Vancouver three days after that. July will not offer much of a respite, either. For example, from July 4 against Philadelphia through July 21 against Chivas, the Galaxy will play five games, three of which are on the road.
“We have a crazy stretch of games coming up,” said goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who recently returned to the team after a stay in MLS’ Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program that forced him to miss five regular-season games. He was in the net in last Saturday’s Reserve League victory in Portland and will be looking to face the Timbers once again on June 17.
“We need to work on the little things, then it’s all going to show on the field,” he said.
Center back A.J. DeLaGarza admitted he’s spent some restless nights wondering what’s gone wrong – “I don’t go home from games happy,” he said with a straight face – and said he thought the team has returned ready to refocus on the remainder of the season.
“Physically, the break doesn’t hurt us, either,” he said. “We can come back with an open mind and a clear head.”
DeLaGarza admitted he’s been a bit put off by some of the comments he’s been hearing about the struggling defending MLS Cup champions.
“Some people, I’m not going to say who, they don’t think we try,” he said. “But I can tell you there’s not a single player on this team, in this league or a professional athlete, period, who wants to lose.
“We practice every day to win games and sometimes it doesn’t happen.
"You’ve just got to find a way past that.”