CARSON, Calif. – The defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy are tied for fourth in the Western Conference with a 5-5-7 record and haven’t won a road game since last August. But all is not lost.
Far from it, actually.
They are getting healthy again, English superstar Steven Gerrard is about to join the lineup and four of their next five league games are at home, where they have lost just one game since the start of the 2014 regular season.
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And besides, they’ve been in this situation before as they prepare to play the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes).
“This is the time for us to start getting results, no question about it,” head coach Bruce Arena acknowledged.
It was two years ago when the Galaxy were 7-7-3 at the midway point of the season. They went 8-4-5 the rest of the way to finish 15-11-8 and qualified for the postseason. Just last year the Galaxy were 7-4-6 in the first half of the season but went 10-3-4 in the second en route to their third MLS Cup title in four years.
There’s every reason to think the Galaxy are getting ready for a similar rebound. Robbie Keane, who scored three goals in Wednesday’s U.S. Open victory over PSA Elite, appears fully recovered from a nagging groin injury. Left back Robbie Rogers is back from various leg and ankle problems and versatile defender A.J DeLaGarza, beset by foot ailments, played two 90-minute games for Guam in World Cup qualifiers.
Add the impending arrival of Gerrard, and it’s no wonder Galaxy coaches and players sound more hopeful than usual.
“We’re definitely going to turn things around this season and make a run for the championship again,” midfielder Jose Villarreal said. “We’ll have a deeper squad and make things right.”
DeLaGarza agreed, but he also said the timing is critical.
“We’ve got to turn it on now,” he said. “(The record) is not good enough for this club, but we’re not far from the top. We keep pushing, getting guys back, Keane’s back and Rogers is back and I’m coming back… the list goes on.
“If we can get guys healthy and clicking I think we’re going to be a very dangerous team.”
The second half of the regular season begins Saturday against a Union side (4-9-3), which is seventh in the East, has been outscored 25-18 and hasn’t played a road game since a 2-1 loss at D.C. United on May 30. The Union, coached by Jim Curtin, is led by the likes of C.J. Sapong (four goals), Sebastien Le Toux (two goals and four assists) and Cristian Maidana (five assists).
Galaxy midfielder Stefan Ishizaki said the defending champions remain a formidable opponent despite a first half filled with so much frustration.
“When we put our minds together we work really hard for each other. That makes us a team that’s really, really hard to beat, and that’s how we have to keep playing,” he said. “I think things are starting to look up for us. We’re getting guys healthy again, we’ve got Keano again and Gerrard’s on the way in.
“That’s two world-class players for our team.”
Added Arena, “It’s remarkable we’ve been able to keep our heads above water. We’re right in the middle of the pack, not too far behind and hopefully positioned well for the second half of the season.
“It’s still a scramble at this point. And hopefully for us the second half of the season is better.”