CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy believe they've finally got something going and would like to be playing this weekend, but they're sitting through another bye week – their third in seven weekends – wondering why their schedule is so “bizarre.”
Some eight weeks into the season, LA has played just five MLS games, faced just three league opponents, and have struggled to develop a rhythm with breaks following their opener, another at the end of March, and now this one.
“It's frustrating, really frustrating,” said forward Rob Friend, in his first MLS season after 11 years in Europe. “Really bizarre. It's frustrating as a player, especially as a new player trying to adjust to the team and trying to get in a rhythm with the guys and the team, and every other weekend is a bye.”
The Galaxy (2-1-2) created their first bye weekend in mid-March, moving to late August a home game against D.C. United to free up space between the legs of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Club Tijuana. Their second bye would have preceded a semifinal series had they advanced in the regional competition, and this third one would have followed the championship series.
“Sometimes there's other factors [in such a schedule],” head coach Bruce Arena observed. “Certainly the Champions League. The D.C. game should not have been scheduled [for March 15]. There are some factors, but this is to the extreme. We changed the D.C. game despite the fact that we insisted before the schedule was out not to play the game, and it was given to us anyway.”
Arena would like to see clubs in the CCL given a bye during their quarterfinal series but scheduled to play during the semifinal and championship weeks, moving those games only when teams advance to further rounds.
“You don't need to give weekends off before the final, because we don't know if we're in the final,” Arena said. “I would have scheduled the last two dates, for sure. Would not schedule the early date. And they did just the opposite.
“I think when things like this happen, we have to accept the blame. We have to be more insistent on what we think is right before the scheduling is finalized. Maybe we need ownership [involved] in some of this stuff every once in a while.”
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The Galaxy, who won't miss another weekend all season, aside from the two-week World Cup break in June, now follow last weekend's draw at Vancouver with three more road games -- they're at Colorado, Portland and Houston before returning May 21 to StubHub Center against FC Dallas -- while trying to keep some kind of momentum going.
“When we think we're finally hitting a stride, we get hit with another bye week,” defender A.J. DeLaGarza said. His backline mate Omar Gonzalez agrees: “It takes us out of our rhythm and allows maybe to lose a bit of fitness here and there because we're not getting ready for a game and not playing 90 minutes this week.”
Arena doesn't necessarily buy that.
“You can discuss that until you're blue in the face,” he said. “That rhythm stuff is a little bit of garbage.”