Mind the gap: With Omar Gonzalez on Gold Cup duty, LA Galaxy looking for backline solution
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have an Omar Gonzalez-sized hole on their backline again this week, and they head to Colorado for Saturday's game (7 pm ET, ESPN2) with two real options to fill it.
Second-year center back Tommy Meyer is the likeliest candidate after he filled in for the Galaxy's top defender so impressively in last month's scoreless draw with Portland, but head coach Bruce Arena says he hasn't yet determined who will team up with A.J. DeLaGarza in the middle.
“As [Tommy] gets a number of games and gets into a rhythm, he plays with confidence,” Arena said. “I think he's at that point now. The reserve games have helped him [and] his last game with us, when Omar was gone, he played very well.”
The 6-foot-5 Gonzalez departed after last week's win over Vancouver to join the US national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Meyer and Leonardo have size – both are 6-foot-2 – a must next to the 5-9 DeLaGarza, but the chemistry needs work.
“It takes time to build [chemistry, and Gonzalez and I] have been together for eight years now,” said DeLaGarza, who lined up next to Gonzalez at the University of Maryland before both were drafted by LA in 2009. “We just know where each other's going to be without even having to look, for the most part.”
Meyer and DeLaGarza worked on their relationship the last time Gonzalez was gone, for three games in June. Leonardo has spent less time with DeLaGarza, who was stationed at right back when the Brazilian made seven first-team starts in the first six weeks of the season.
“I've played with both of them a little bit,” DeLaGarza said. “They're both very capable of getting the job done and filling in for Omar. Obviously, he's a big part of our team, and we can't full that spot with just one player. It's got to be all of us – the defenders, all the midfielders, all the forwards – we all have to step up and defend well for the entire game.”
Meyer started the last 10 first-team games for the Galaxy last year, going the full 90 in all six playoff games, after DeLaGarza sprained his left medial collateral ligament. A preseason hamstring injury slowed him down to start this campaign, and he didn't make the starting XI until mid-May. He has been on the 18-man game day roster in all but three league matches.
“[Patience is] something I learned last year,” he said. “I basically just make sure I'm ready to play all the time.”