CARSON, Calif. – For most clubs, preseason is the time not only to sort out the roster but also to integrate new players and get everyone on the same page. But there hasn’t been much time for the LA Galaxy to get that done.
With Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan spending the bulk of January and February on loan stints in England, the Galaxy did not have an opportunity to put their ideal starting lineup together until the three training sessions leading up to Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Toronto FC at the Rogers Centre.
And while they overcame those challenges and tied 2-2, the onus is now on the squad to come together quickly.
“We’ve only been together only a few days with Robbie,” Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza said. “Landon hasn’t played with us as well. … You know, you can see we have the makings of a very good team, but we have to put it together.”
The Galaxy’s late arrivals were thrown into the mix as the club’s approach was in contrast to Toronto FC’s own preseason.
“A team like Toronto now has been together for seven or eight weeks in preseason every day training together,” Donovan said. “We’ve had two semi-training sessions with our full team and it makes it difficult. … But I’m proud of our professionalism, how we approached the game and that we got something out of it.”
Two new partnerships began to take shape at Rogers Centre. Edson Buddle and Keane played together for the first time, and defender Andrew Boyens made his Galaxy debut alongside DeLaGarza. While the Galaxy have high hopes for both pairings, the lack of familiarity showed.
“One of the things that was evident was we haven’t played together,” LA head coach Bruce Arena said. “This is the first time we were able to put this group together on the field. It’s going to take us some time.”
The Galaxy, of course, do not have any time to spare. On Saturday, they host Real Salt Lake in a rematch of the 2011 Western Conference Championship (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live), while Toronto FC will visit four days later for the return leg of their quarterfinal series. Closing out the 12-day, four-game sprint is D.C. United, who will visit on March 18.
Overcoming a 2-0 hole on Wednesday showed the club’s resiliency, but it also showed areas which need improving.
“We have to learn from starting a game like that,” midfielder David Beckham said. “You know, sometimes that’s how you lose games, so it’s important for us to look at that and get that right for obviously Saturday first off and then Wednesday.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.