CARSON, Calif. - The weekly grind in MLS takes a toll on every team. Heading into the final couple weeks of the season, it's even more noticeable, as teams are battling injuries as much as they are battling their opponents.
It's not just injuries either. Fatigue starts to pile up as well. In no other league around the world does the travel itinerary cover an entire continent like it does here in the U.S. That's why in Los Angeles, the Galaxy are taking full advantage of their late season bye week.
The Galaxy were originally scheduled to play Chivas USA in the final installment of the Super Clasico this weekend. But due to a scheduling conflict, the game was pushed up in the schedule and the Galaxy has a brief hiatus from league action.
There are some who think that having a week away from the action will stall the momentum that the Green and Gold have gained this past week. The Galaxy have won three games in a row, a feat that has escaped them since the opening month of the season. However, to a man, the Galaxy feel that this break couldn't have come at a better time.
"I'm one of the youngest guys on the team and I'm beat," said Herculez Gomez after Tuesday's training session. "I think it's a good thing. We've all played our hearts out the last couple of weeks. It's a much needed rest.
"And I think that the confidence we've been building up, it'll still be there. We're not looking at this as no soccer. We're looking at it as preparation for San Jose."
For the first time this season, World Cup qualifying won't affect the team either. Michael Umana, Chris Albright, Kevin Hartman and Guillermo Ramirez are all away this weekend with their respective national teams. Even Tyrone Marshall will join Jamaica for an international friendly. Had the Galaxy played a game this weekend those absences could have been devastating.
In addition, both Landon Donovan and Paulo Nagamura will have an extra week to recover from injuries that saw both players miss the Galaxy's last game against FC Dallas.
"A lot of guys have knocks. This is a tough stretch of the season," said Galaxy captain Pete Vagenas. "It gives us a chance for some players to let their wounds heal. At the same time we've built some momentum, that's something we have to maintain in training."
Steve Sampson and the rest of the coaching staff aren't going to take this break day by day. They're taking it player by player in hopes of finding that balance of rest and maintaining their focus.
"I think every guy on this team has a different rhythm. Some guys need to rest, others need to work," said Sampson. "I think it's a blessing in disguise this break. But I think it's important we work as hard as we can so we don't lose that rhythm."
When the Galaxy take the field for the final time this regular season against San Jose on Oct. 15, there will be no question that they will be refreshed. What still remains to be seen if if the momentum of the last three games can be maintained over the break.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.