LA Galaxy defender AJ DeLaGarza playing it safe with bone bruise on foot, targets return for season opener

CARSON, Calif. – A.J. DeLaGarza's sore left foot isn't getting better, and he's not sure when he'll return to training.

The LA Galaxy defender suffered a bone bruise when he stepped on a teammate's foot in training late last month, and he's since been a spectator at practice and during four scrimmages.

His chief aim is to be ready in time for LA's March 6 opener against Chicago (10 pm ET, UniMas), but he can't work toward that until the foot heals.

“It's a little bruise on the foot, a bone bruise, and any type of impact right now, it feels like my bones are crushing each other,” DeLaGarza said following the Galaxy's session Tuesday morning at StubHub Center. “It's best to let it rest so I can be ready for the season to start.

“If I go out here now and play on it now and have another misstep, I'd have to start all over again, so it's about being patient and knowing what you can handle right now.”

The Galaxy have paired Omar Gonzalez with Leonardo as the first-choice tandem in central defense during their last three matches, victories over Cal State Fullerton, Georgetown and the Seattle Sounders.

DeLaGarza said on the eve of LA's Feb. 1 trip to the White House that he expected to be on the field again by late last week. There's some frustration that the healing process is going slowly.

“Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as we initially thought,” DeLaGarza said. “I'm happy to miss a couple weeks rather than a couple months, so I'm blessed in that aspect.”

The seventh-year defender, who won the team award as the Galaxy's top defender last year after playing in all four backline roles, will accompany the team on an 11-day trek to Ireland and Sweden that begins Wednesday, but he doesn't know if he'll be available for Monday's friendly against Hammarby in Stockholm or the Feb. 21 friendly against Shamrock Rovers in Dublin.

“If it gets better and I can take a pass and trap one with no pain or kick with no pain, I'd play tomorrow, if I could,” DeLaGarza said. “But whenever it gets better, there's no timetable. You never know with these kinds of things. They just take time.”

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