Galaxy fight fatigue, maintain rhythm
CARSON, Calif. - The Los Angeles Galaxy are currently smack dab in the middle of a grueling stretch that sees them playing six games in three weeks. Currently the Galaxy are sitting on a 1-1-1 record through the first half of the stretch, but are well aware of the factor that fatigue can play in the final games of their regular season schedule.
"This is why you saw some changes against Kansas City," said Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson. "We know that we have to rest certain players for matches that are of the greatest importance to us."
It's a difficult position for the Galaxy coaching staff to be in. On one hand they need to make sure they don't over-exert their players right before the playoffs. At the same time this Galaxy team is still trying to find its rhythm at full strength after a summer that saw so many first-team players absent for long stretches.
"You've got to find the balance. Guys can't play six games in 18 days, that's just asking too much," said fullback Todd Dunivant earlier this week. "We have to find the right balance between continuity and rest."
Sampson is fully aware - and is trying to come up with a solution to both problems.
"We have a nucleus of 16 players that we will rotate into the lineup." said Sampson of the roster adjustments he plans to make over the course of the next 10 days. "I have the same expectation when we make changes, and that is to play good soccer and to win."
Sampson has stuck to his word. In between the Kansas City game on Saturday and their game against FC Dallas on Wednesday, Sampson made five changes to his starting lineup. Some of the changes were personnel changes while others were simply moving starters into different positions. In addition, Sampson used his bench differently in both games, and in all, 17 different Galaxy players saw the field in the last two games.
So while fatigue will change the way the Galaxy plays out the remainder of their schedule, it's not going to be something they use as an excuse if they should stumble down the stretch run. There are enough veteran players in the Galaxy squad to prepare the younger guys for what's to come.
"I think the coaching staff is doing a good job of trying to manage (fatigue)," said veteran defender Chris Albright. "It's like this at the end of every MLS season. There's always a ton of games, so guys are used to it."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.