CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy appear to be getting healthy just in time for the postseason. Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez returned to the lineup for Sunday's scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, Robbie Rogers saw about 25 minutes off the bench, and A.J. DeLaGarza suited up for the first time since dislocating his elbow five weeks ago.
Appearances can be deceiving.
Donovan, who has been in and out of LA's (and the US national team's) lineup with a sprained left ankle, isn't close to 100 percent, and Gonzalez was wondering Saturday how he was going to make it onto the field.
“Don't ask me that,” Donovan said when queried about how his ankle made it through 90 minutes Sunday. “Not good. It's not good, but we'll deal with.”
Donovan missed two CONCACAF Champions League games and the home draw with Seattle after he was hurt Sept. 14 at D.C. United, returned prematurely in a Sept. 29 loss at Portland, then was outstanding in the 5-0 romp over Chivas USA a week after that.
He played in the United States' penultimate World Cup qualifier, against Jamaica, then came back to Southern California when the ankle turned out to be “a little worse than I think we thought it was initially” and skipped Wednesday's victory over Montreal.
“I told you it needs six weeks of rest, but, unfortunately, we're not going to get six weeks of rest,” he said. “So that's the way it goes. Just gotta deal with it.”
Gonzalez has been dealing with an adductor issue all season, since injuring it during the Galaxy's MLS Cup triumph last December. He tweaked it against Chivas and skipped the US' final two qualifiers and the Montreal win, then promised Friday he would play against San Jose. The next day, he wasn't so sure.
“Yesterday I did not feel good. Yesterday I was freaking out because it hurt so bad,” Gonzalez said Sunday night. “But today it felt great leading into the game, and I thought I did enough to help out the team, and then Leonardo was ready to go.”
Gonzalez was pulled in the 73rd minute, and Bruce Arena said it was cramps.
“It wasn't planned, just something that happened,” Gonzalez said. “I had to come out of the game. ... It was a little bit of everything.”
Rogers, who had a difficult rehabilitation with a hamstring tear, made his first non-reserve appearance since Aug. 20, and his first in league play since July 19, when he was inserted in the 68th minute.
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“It's been quite a while,” he said. “It felt good to be out there. It felt, I don't know, just kind of like finally. Finally I'm helping the team out.”
His sharpness isn't there, but he hopes to improve upon it in LA's final Champions League group-stage match, Thursday in El Salvador against Isidro Metapán.
“I think for sure I need to play in that Champions League game,” he said. “I think that would be important for me, and hopefully play as long as I can. I think that's important for my fitness and my game sharpness. It's been [two] months since I played, and there's a lot of improvement I need to make.”