Meyer could replace DeLaGarza, but Arena has options

Tommy Meyer

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora/LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. – The assumption, both inside and outside the LA Galaxy, is that rookie Tommy Meyer will step in on the backline next to Omar Gonzalez while A.J. DeLaGarza recovers from his knee injury. Bruce Arena knows what to make of such assumptions.

“When you assume something, you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me,' ” the Galaxy manager noted following Wednesday morning's training session at the Home Depot Center. “You never know. He's one of the candidates. You never know.”

There are other candidates – Andrew Boyens and David Júnior Lopes – and if Meyer's performance after taking over for DeLaGarza a half-hour into last Sunday's draw at Colorado appears to put him atop the pecking order, Arena isn't about to make the call publicly. Nobody's certain of anything, it seems.

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“We know as much as you do at this point,” left back Todd Dunivant said. “[Meyer] was the choice the other day. We'll see what happens, but, yes, that's what you think.”

Meyer (above) on Sunday made his first league appearance since May 5, but he's been a regular in LA's Reserve League matches and started in the last two CONCACAF Champions League games. The same is true of veteran Andrew Boyens, who has made just two league appearances – the last at the end of March – but says he'll be up to the job if asked.

“Tommy stepped in against Colorado and did a great job,” said the New Zealander. “Whenever you play well, your chances come with it. So if that's his job at the moment, I hope he does a good job. He's been playing very well of late. And if it becomes my job at some point, then I'll be putting everything into it.”

Lopes, acquired in April from Chivas USA after Meyer and Boyens struggled to fill Gonzalez's shoes during his injury layoff, started 16 of 20 games before Arena was able to field his first-choice backline for the first time in August. He hasn't seen first-team action since.

Dan Keat and Bryan Gaul also have started in the middle, but neither is a real option.

“We used a number of guys in the back when Omar was out,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said. “… These are all guys that have had minutes for us this year, and that's a valuable thing.”

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Replacing the 5-foot-9 DeLaGarza, who is expected to miss a month or so with a sprained left medial collateral ligament, is different than replacing the 6-foot-5 Gonzalez, who was out six months with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“A.J.'s a different central defender than Omar,” Sarachan explained. “He moves differently, he thinks differently. Where one of Omar's strengths is clearly in the air, A.J. is a little more intellectual – that's not diminishing Omar, they're just different. It's a different kind of loss.

“It's a partnership that's been very good, we know that, so now you take one of those pieces out and put a new one in. It'll be a little bit of a work in progress, but nothing that we can't overcome. There's a pure confidence within the group that we can be fine.”