The Los Angeles Galaxy have played one game thus far this season without their superstar Landon Donovan. That was the season opener against Columbus -- and the 3-0 loss the Galaxy suffered was something they've been trying to live down ever since.
Since that game, Donovan has led the team in goals and assists, serving as the catalyst in a very high-powered attack. But over the next couple of weeks, Donovan will be absent from his club while representing his country, and that means Galaxy coach Steve Sampson will be looking for someone to step in and fill his role as the spearhead of the attack.
Right now it seems as though that someone will be Naldo da Conceicao. The Brazilian-born striker has been one of Sampson's first choices off the bench, and this past weekend, the immediate spark he brought to the field ignited the Galaxy to a victory against San Jose.
"We've known this day was going to come. We've been preparing for it," Sampson said. "It's a great opportunity for some guys to get some playing time."
For Jovan Kirovski, usually paired up top with Donovan, it will take some time to get used to playing with someone else up top.
"With Landon it's great. We've clicked since he's been here," said Kirovski. "He's dangerous every time he steps on the field with his speed. But we have some depth, Naldo and Joe (Ngwenya) -- whoever plays has some pace as well."
The depth that Kirovski spoke of got a bit thinner for the Galaxy on Tuesday when the club learned Ngwenya will be sidelined with a hernia. That leaves Naldo as the only striker other than Kirovski with first-team experience.
Sampson signed the Brazilian because of his experience playing in Europe, and the Galaxy boss is hoping he will take advantage of the opportunity to make an impact stateside.
"In Naldo you've got a player with a tremendous amount of experience," Sampson said. "Now is his shot."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.