CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy will be without three starters this week due to international duty including starting forwards Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, setting up a host of selection questions for head coach Bruce Arena ahead of this Saturday’s road match against D.C. United.
With Keane with the Republic of Ireland and Zardes looking to carve out a role with the U.S. National Team, veteran target forwards Edson Buddle and Alan Gordon appear to have the inside track at starting spots this weekend.
However, the message that the Galaxy are preaching this week is not about who they’re missing, but who remains.
“We want to push ourselves because we know that those guys won’t be here,” Buddle, who made his third Galaxy debut with a brief cameo against the Dynamo last week, said. “We don’t want to go into D.C. feeling shorthanded so we’re going to do our best to push ourselves and try to get three points on the road.”
But what could a tandem of Gordon and Buddle, both strikers who stand north of six-feet, look like?
“There should be a lot of crosses into the box if we’re in together,” Gordon said. “Big forwards have to get service and if we get that then we should be able to score some goals.”
D.C.’s defense allowed a league-low 37 goals in 2014—a mark that they shared with LA— and will give the Galaxy no quarter on Saturday, but Buddle believes that the Galaxy have the knowhow to get a result in the nation’s capital.
“We both have a lot of experience. When those guys are gone, we don’t want to make it feel like they’re gone,” Buddle said. “We want to be able to carry on the same as if Robbie and Gyasi were here with us. That’s the main focus for myself and Alan is to use our experience to try and help the team.”
There is one wildcard in the mix, however, who could break up the possibility of a Buddle/Gordon forward tandem: Jose Villarreal.
The 21-year-old has been one of the highlights of the 2015 campaign due to his consistent play along the left side of midfield. However, the youngster from Inglewood came through the Galaxy Academy as a forward.
“It doesn’t matter to me. If they want me to play forward, right midfield, in the center or out on the left, then I’ll play wherever that they want me to play,” Villarreal said. “I’ll always try my best, but we have veteran forwards who can step up like Edson and Gordon so they can definitely do the job and make it seem like no one left. We’ll be ready for what comes, we’re missing those players but we have guys that can step up.”
However, no matter who gets the call to start up top, the Galaxy are confident that they can overcome the international absences and earn points against United.
“We’re going to have to have guys ready and available,” said Gordon. “Depending on what Bruce decides, we’ll all be ready to play in some shape or form in the game. Whether it’s coming off the bench or starting, we’re all going to have to contribute.”