After last season's disappointing finish in the Western Conference Final, Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson had a long offseason to address his team's needs. In his first full year at the helm, the L.A. manager wanted to bring in players who would fit into his system of play, and upgrading his team's speed was at the top of the priority list.
"Our speed has improved dramatically since last year," said Sampson. "It was our target area this offseason."
Last year, outside of Cobi Jones and Carlos Ruiz, there really wasn't anyone in a Galaxy uniform with blazing speed. The Galaxy front office started taking care of that right away in this year's SuperDraft.
Ugo Ihemelu and Mamba Chisoni were brought into the fold, both possessing a great deal of pace. Both rookies have made an impact for the Green-and-Gold, Ihemelu logging his first start against RSL and Chisoni coming off the bench in both of the Galaxy's first two games.
Add Guillermo Ramirez and Landon Donovan into the mix, and suddenly the Galaxy are a very fast team with a potent attack. This last week off has just added more fuel to the fire for the Galaxy offense, as they are anxious to get back on the field against Chivas USA on Saturday.
"We're hungry, we're ready to go," Jovan Kirovski said this week in training. "With Landon up front, Pando out left, and Cobi on the right, we should be able to get behind them (Chivas USA)."
Chivas USA has given up eight goals in its first three games, which should translate into a rather open game this Saturday. If that's the case, Kirovski is hoping to make a contribution of his own on the scoreboard.
"Hopefully I can open up my account," the second-year Galaxy man said. "It would be a good week to do it."
Donovan earned MLS player of the week honors in Week 2 for his two-goal, one-assist performance against RSL, and he too is champing at the bit to get back into action.
"When you score of course you want to play, regardless of who it is," he said.
The Galaxy are looking to keep pace with in-form FC Dallas in the West before facing off with them next Saturday. In order to do that, Sampson believes one factor rises above the rest.
"For the Galaxy to be effective this year, (our speed) has to be great," the Galaxy boss said. "With and without the ball."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.