CARSON, Calif. -- Defender A.J. DeLaGarza hasn't yet returned to full training with the LA Galaxy following the ankle injury he suffered nine days ago, but he's holding out hope that he'll be ready to go in time for Sunday's SuperClasico showdown with Chivas USA (3 pm ET, UniMas).
He ran on the side during LA's practice Monday morning at StubHub Center, then said that he's doing all he can to become fully involved as soon as possible.
“I'm being optimistic. Hopefully, I can get out there and help the team [this weekend],” he said. “At the same time, I'm not going to put the team out there and not be able to perform 100 percent. Someone else can go there and do the job, and be healthy, but my goal is to be on the field any way possible.”
Head coach Bruce Arena says it's too early to tell if that is indeed possible.
“It's a little early right now,” he said. “It was a bad injury he suffered. It was a bad tackle. He took a stud and he's had a lot of swelling with that contusion. Hopefully, he's getting back.”
DeLaGarza was hurt in the 63rd minute of the a March 22 draw at Real Salt Lake, after Alvaro Saborio angled his run to clip the veteran defender's left ankle after arriving late for a challenge.
“It was pretty bad,” DeLaGarza said. “Immediately after that foul, I got off to the sideline, and you could already see it looked like I was wearing an ankle pad. It was frustrating. I tried to play through it and hoped it would go away, but the last 20 minutes of the game I didn't want to risk having to chase someone down and not being able to and giving up a late goal or something like that. I thought it was best for me to step out and get someone who is healthy and preserve at least a point in Salt Lake, and we were able to do that.”
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He knew it wasn't a serious injury, that nothing “was broken, because I could move my toes, but it was a pretty dirty tackle. I think you saw a lot of people talking about it, but it's over now.”
The Galaxy were vocal in their criticism of the tackle and and expressed confidence MLS's disciplinary committee would step in, but there were no sanctions beyond the yellow card shown to the RSL forward.
“I don't even want to talk about it,” DeLaGarza said. “And he scored two goals [in RSL's 3-0 win Saturday over Toronto FC]. Look at the [Andrew] Wenger red card [in Montreal's draw Saturday at Philadelphia], where he made a high challenge and barely made contact with the guy, got his toe in, and got a straight red card for that.
"Saborio, they had a chance to go back and look at it. It's frustrating. If we had to play last week, I wouldn't have played. It's unfortunate, I guess.”