CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy were able to move comfortably past their Knockout Round match against Real Salt Lake, but they know that the upcoming Western Conference Semifinal against the Colorado Rapids in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs (Sunday 5:00 pm ET; ESPN, TSN1/4 in Canada) will be a completely different animal.
Playing Wednesday night presented some challenges, but having overcome them it may work out to their benefit.
“I think if we’d had to travel it probably would have been a little tougher,” said Landon Donovan, “but now to get the game right away at home and get an extra day of rest now instead of playing Thursday.
“It’s going to be fun, we know this is a much different level than the Salt Lake team we played against. We’re going to have to be even better, but I think we’re confident that we can be.”
That extra day of rest works in the favor of players like Robbie Keane, who came off the bench Wednesday night in his first appearance since October 2nd, and Steven Gerrard, who is trying to make his way back onto the field Sunday for his first match action since that same date.
“[Gerrard] looks like he could be ready to go,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but he trained well today”
For Keane, progress from an undisclosed ailment looks to be coming along as planned.
“It’s always nice to get the minutes,” said Keane. “Not forgetting I’ve only been out for a couple weeks. Before that I played a ninety minute game which I got injured on in the last couple minutes of that game. It’s only been a few weeks, but it’s always nice to get back on the field.”
While exactly how much he would be used was unknown when Donovan came out of retirement, he’s now approaching a probable third start in eight days.
“I feel old,” said Donovan. “But I feel good. It’s fun to be back and when you don’t have the wear of a whole season on you, it’s a nice feel because you know there’s the finish line...hopefully not too soon but coming shortly.
“I feel good, definitely feel more sore than I ever did before but excited to play.”
Also worth noting is the status of forward Gyasi Zardes, who continues to work away from the main group in hopes of a return to the team before too long. It’s unlikely he dresses for Sunday, but Zardes could be a possibility for the 18-man roster down the line. If he does, it’ll be the first time in many weeks that the Galaxy have had their full-strength roster available on match day.