CARSON, Calif. – Adam Cristman was one of the players Bruce Arena brought in to try to replace Edson Buddle when the Galaxy’s former scoring ace departed in the offseason.
And although the Galaxy eventually found that replacement in Irishman Robbie Keane, Cristman could wind up playing a key role after all when 2011 is all said and done.
Chad Barrett was lost for MLS Cup 2011 with a dislocated foot and Cristman is seemingly in line to replace him alongside Keane in the final against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday (9 pm ET, ESPN, Galavisión, TSN2).
“When I talked to Bruce about coming out here, he explained the role and … he expected that I could step on the field and play,” Cristman said after training on Thursday. “If that’s how it ends up being, I’m ready for the job I’m prepared to do.”
Cristman may not have eye-popping statistics – one goal in 11 league matches this season – but the former New England and Kansas City striker has a few things going for him.
He has the distinction of scoring a goal in each of the competitions the Galaxy were involved in this year; he scored a goal in the league, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League. He even scored in this summer’s World Football Challenge, and against Real Madrid, no less.
Furthermore, playing against Houston center backs Bobby Boswell and Geoff Cameron could bode well for him.
“I have to do the things that make me a good player and allow me to help out the team the best I can,” Cristman said. “This game could lend to me being good [from a matchup perspective] playing against their big backs. They’re a physical team, and that’s [kind of] my style of play.”
While Barrett and Keane had been partnering well together, Cristman and Keane were paired together in some key matches as well. LA’s likely striker partnership for MLS Cup started together against Alajuelense on Aug. 25 and at Morelia on Sept. 13 in CONCACAF Champions League matches.
So while they may not quite be 100-percent familiar with the other’s tendencies, working alongside Keane won’t be anything new for Cristman.
“The few games we’ve played together, I’ve felt good playing with him,” Cristman said of the Irish star. “He is a talented guy and loves to get around the goal, and if I can be out there and take pressure off of him and fight for first balls and give him some space to work against their backs, that’s the best for him and he’ll get his chances to score.”
If Cristman gets the nod, he said he would approach this match like every other game the Galaxy have played during 2011, even if it is the biggest game the team has played since losing to RSL in MLS Cup 2009.
“Regardless if it’s the biggest game, it’s just the game that’s on Sunday,” Cristman said. “For us, we approach every game like we’re going to win that game. We’ve done that all year. For me and everyone else, we have to ready. That’s our job. We show up and we play as a team and that’s how it works.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter: @RunnerLuis