All season long, the Los Angeles Galaxy have struggled with injuries, but head coach Sigi Schmid has been able to adjust and the team has put together the league's best overall record at the halfway point.
But this weekend against the Colorado Rapids at The Home Depot Center, Schmid will once again face some serious questions when he fills out his lineup - and not only from injuries.
Midfielder Andreas Herzog will not play after collecting too many caution points in recent matches. The Austrian veteran has been a major factor for setting up the Galaxy's league-leading offense (30 goals). Not only will Herzog be missed, but defensive midfielder Marcelo Saragosa isn't expected to play after missing the second half of the Galaxy's 2-1 win over San Jose on Sunday. Saragosa suffered a sprained ankle and is out indefinitely.
"The spine of the team has been affected," Schmid said. "We don't have a direct replacement for either player. We ended up being able to pull a lineup together in the second half. But obviously, (Herzog) is going to leave a little bit of a hole because he's a playmaker."
Most likely, the Galaxy will move Jovan Kirovski into the attacking midfield position and start Alejandro Moreno or Joseph Ngwenya up top with Carlos Ruiz.
If healthy, Sasha Victorine could fill in for Saragosa. Or, the Galaxy could start Chris Aloisi in the midfield. The rookie from Syracuse started in the back four but moved to the midfield after Saragosa's injury. Schmid was pleased with his performance there.
"He had a difficult assignment in the second half playing the defensive midfield and marking San Jose midfielder Landon Donovan," Schmid said. "He had never played there before and he didn't get overwhelmed."
It was Aloisi's second start of the season, and while he isn't certain a third will come this weekend, he felt he was able to contribute in the Galaxy win.
"I hadn't played in the midfield in a while before Sunday," Aloisi said. "Maybe I wasn't as competitive as some other guys in that spot but I just wanted to fill holes and break stuff up. I knew my job was to just the get the ball to guys like Cobi Jones and Herzog."
His performance in the holding role also impressed his teammates. "He is a player with a big heart and he was waiting a long time for his chance," Herzog said. "It was important that he got his chance and did well."
Herzog also compared Aloisi to French star midfielder Zinedine Zidane. Unfortunately for Aloisi, the comparisons aren't in a good way.
"We have to do something with his haircut," said Herzog, referring to Aloisi's bald head. When he goes for headers, the ball just skims off. He looks like Zidane."
This story was not subject to approval by MLS or its teams.