LA Galaxy using ICC as training camp to make "a push for a third championship in a row"
The LA Galaxy have one last International Champions Cup chore before they return to MLS duty, and they're hopeful they can use Wednesday's third-place game against AC Milan – after a historic victory over Juventus – to propel them toward the MLS Cup playoffs and beyond.
LA were thoroughly outplayed in their ICC opener last week against Real Madrid, then scored a deserved 3-1 triumph over the Italian champions Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, their first win over a major club since a 2009 friendly with Boca Juniors – and their first ever over a top European side.
It won't go to their heads.
“We take it all with a grain of salt,” said Landon Donovan, who scored a 60th-minute winner in his first game with the Galaxy in more than a month. “It's a team in their preseason [that] played two completely different teams in each half, so its equal to, really, a practice.”
Head coach Bruce Arena noted that the Juventus “result isn't going to change anything in this world,” that “we understand we're playing here in an exhibition” and that “I don't want to play them when it really counts.”
Likewise against Milan, which they'll battle on Wednesday at Sun Life Stadium in suburban Miami (6:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
“These are for our players to experience, in exhibitions of course, the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus, and AC Milan – it's a fantastic experience for our players,” Arena said. “I think that it'll be good, but we'll see on Wednesday. It could be bad, too, but we’re hoping that it's a real good experience.”
The Galaxy were solid against Juve, going forward with panache – especially when Donovan and Robbie Keane were paired up front – and they were far more successful closing down Juventus' attack than they were in a 3-1 loss Thursday to Real Madrid. The victory meant something as a confidence boost.
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“A game like this, I think, we just have to keep on building leading into the [final third] of our season,” defender Omar Gonzalez said. “It's time we start rising and picking up our play and look to the make it to the playoffs and, hopefully, in the end winning another championship. From here on out, it's all about the quality getting sharper and moving in the right direction.”
Reserve players are getting considerable minutes in the ICC, and the respite from MLS' wars has been good for morale. They're spending the full week in Miami, starting to focus on next weekend's clash at FC Dallas and what's to follow.
“The real season starts again on Sunday,” Donovan said. “These are good games to get experience for younger guys to really enjoy, but we have to keep our eye on the big picture ... Now we get a week together in Miami. It's a nice sort of a midseason training camp for us to get back together again on the same page and make a push for a third championship in a row.”