LA's Berhalter, Cristman a step closer to returns

CARSON, Calif. – When the Galaxy faced Chivas USA in a Reserve League match on Tuesday, the 3-1 loss was not the result the team had hoped for.

But that’s not to say there weren’t any positives the Galaxy left with from match.

Adam Cristman played for the first time in an LA uniform while Gregg Berhalter saw action for the first time in 10 weeks. The score may not have been favorable to the Galaxy, but getting a pair of important players one step closer to game action is significant.

“It was good to get them out,” Galaxy reserves coach Curt Onalfo said. “That’s part of what these games are for.”

Cristman started the season off with a knee injury and had been slow to respond. On Tuesday, he played the first half at his usual forward position, pairing with Bryan Jordan up top.

“It was good to finally get a little time on the field with the reserves,” Cristman said. “It took 10-15 minutes for myself to get in the game, which is a little too long. But once we started clicking, we kind of stuck to our game plan in getting balls behind, I think we had some success.”

Cristman accounted for the Galaxy’s only goal, as he sent a ball from the left side of the box to the right post where Hector Jimenez streaked in and finished to momentarily tie the match.

The Galaxy’s dynamics changed at the start of the second half, when Onalfo took Cristman out and replaced him with 16-year-old Jack McBean, one of three teenagers on the Galaxy.

“It would have been nice to have had [Cristman] for 90 minutes because he certainly was creating havoc the last part of the first half,” Onalfo said. “To have to take him out, we kind of lost a little bit of the momentum.”

With more performances like that, Cristman said he hopes to get some playing time with the first team.

“This was a good exercise for me and trying to prove I’m match-fit and I can play and earn myself a spot on the 18 and get on the field in the weekend games,” he said. “It’s really up to Bruce [Arena] and the coaches to evaluate that and determine if putting me in there makes sense. … I just have to keep taking care of my body and prove in these exercises and in training that I belong on the field.”

Berhalter, meanwhile, played the final 30 minutes of the match, sliding in alongside Matt Tilley in central defense. From the start, Berhalter began organizing players on the field and shouting commands.

For where he was at the start of last week, the veteran defender has made great strides.

“I just started running last Monday, so eight days ago I was not able to run and now I’m playing,” he said. “It went quickly, but it’s a progression. I played 30 minutes and it’s just building on that.

“I’m obviously not there yet. I’ve been out 10 weeks, so it’s been a while. This is a process of getting back together, but I feel good, I feel strong, and that’s the most important thing.”

With center back Leonardo out for the year, the onus might be on Berhalter to accelerate his return. However, he said he wants to come back quickly regardless of the team’s injury situation.

“I want to get back anyway, regardless of who is fit, who is injured,” he said. “I have a burning desire to play.”