CARSON, Calif. – It’s a good thing LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena isn’t a card player. He might be wondering if somebody gave him a short deck.
As he tries to salvage a season that has seen his side claim just three wins from their first 16 games in all competitions and slip to last place in the Western Conference, his resources continue to dwindle.
As many as seven players could miss Sunday’s game at The Home Depot Center against the Portland Timbers, their first league game since May 26, because of injury while three others are suspended and Robbie Keane remains in Poland for the European Championships.
“It’s not easy, but it’s all part of it anyway you look at it,” Arena said after training Monday.
Center back Omar Gonzalez remains out after having surgery to repair a knee surgery suffered while he was training in Germany during the offseason. He remains on the Disabled List along with Andrew Boyens, who had surgery to repair a sports hernia last month, and Adam Cristman, who is dealing with a recent concussion.
Along with that trio, Edson Buddle and Dan Keat are each out after recently undergoing surgery on their right knees while Bryan Gaul is recovering from a facial fracture that he suffered against Carolina in the U.S. Open Cup on May 29 and Leonardo is continuing his comeback from a severe knee injury last season. The big Brazilian center back played 90 minutes in the Open Cup defeat to Carolina and scored a goal in the third minute of the Reserve League win at Portland on June 2, but he was forced to leave that game in the 10th minute because of discomfort in his surgically repaired knee.
Additionally, Hector Jimenez, Mike Magee and Michael Stephens will miss Sunday’s game while serving suspensions that they were given by the MLS Disciplinary Committee while Keane is still on international duty.
LA’s other international, Landon Donovan, is scheduled to rejoin the club following the U.S. National Team’s World Cup Qualifier in Guatemala on Tuesday night.
It would be understandable if Arena shook his head over the chain of events, but he hasn’t. Not yet, anyway.
“We knew going into the season once we lost Omar it was going to be difficult to get the right combination at the back, and we struggled with that a little bit,” he said. “Then obviously some personal issues with (goalkeeper) Josh Saunders took away a little continuity we had in the back, the national team call-ups, the injuries. But it’s something everyone has to deal with at some point.
“We’re hopeful as we get into the second half of the season we’re much more solidified all over the field.”
|LA center back pairings in 2012|
|Game||Result||Right Center Back||Left Center Back|
|at TOR (CCL)||2-2 (D)||Boyens||DeLaGarza|
|TOR (CCL)||1-2 (L)||Meyer||DeLaGarza|
|at SKC||1-0 (L)||Meyer||DeLaGarza|
|at COL||1-2 (W)||DeLaGarza||Lopes|
|at SEA||2-0 (L)||DeLaGarza||Lopes|
|at MON||1-1 (D)||Keat||DeLaGarza|
|at CHV||1-0 (L)||DeLaGarza||Lopes|
|at HOU||2-1 (L)||DeLaGarza||Gaul|
|CAR (USOC)||1-2 (L)||Leonardo||Lopes|
That lack of continuity has seen the defending MLS Cup champs use six different combinations in central defense in 13 regular season games. David Junior Lopes started four days after being acquired from Chivas USA in an April trade. Rookies Gaul and Tommy Meyer have combined to play six games in central defense and seven games overall while fellow rookie Kenney Walker was given his MLS debut at Houston on May 26, starting in central midfield after not even being in the 18-man squad for any of LA’s previous contests.
Veteran left back Todd Dunivant, who has started 12 of the club’s 13 regular season games this season, said the ongoing saga has been unusual, to say the least.
“It’s hectic,” he said. “We’ve dealt with it before, and it’s even more of a challenge now because we need points. It doesn’t matter who we put out there; we have to get points.
“It’s kind of the mentality we’re working with right now. It’s important we do that because we can’t keep pushing things under the rug. It’s now or never.”
Said striker Chad Barrett, “When it rains it pours. It didn’t rain on us that much last year, and maybe we’re getting a little bit of it this year. I definitely feel we’re going to have some good things coming our way. Something good’s got to come at some point, and that’s going to start with us winning a game.
“We’ve faced a lot of adversity. Maybe other teams in the second half will face what we’ve faced this year. Maybe this will work in our favor down the road.”
Starting Sunday the PA announcer will no longer announce last names of players. WE will be doing it for them. Spread the word & be loud! #jb— Angel City Brigade (@ACBrigade) June 12, 2012