CARSON, Calif. — It's the one big lineup question facing the LA Galaxy heading into MLS Cup on Saturday (4:30 pm ET on ESPN, TeleFutura, TSN and RDS).
Who will start in central defense for the defending MLS Cup champs alongside Omar Gonzalez against the Houston Dynamo: rookie Tommy Meyer or A.J. DeLaGarza?
If you ask LA manager Bruce Arena, he wants everyone to believe that the more experienced DeLaGarza, who is coming off a ligament strain in his left knee, is a real option to play.
"A.J.'s ready. A.J.'s ready to go," Arena said on Thursday after training. "I’m looking at Tommy and A.J. and then I’m going to pick one. Whoever I feel gives us the best chance to win."
But while DeLaGarza is game for any task thrown his way by his manager, he admits being less than fully fit.
“About 90 [percent]," DeLaGarza said after Thursday's practice. "Nothing’s limiting me, I’ve got my pace back, I think."
“Yeah, I’ve been out for a while, but I was doing fitness still – riding the bike, running on my own and stuff," DeLaGarza continued. "Obviously it’s a little different than ‘soccer fitness.’ You know, but we had a couple of ‘game practices,’ I guess you could say, out here. So that helped.”
Would Arena risk starting a player who has only played a handful of "game practices" after missing nearly two months of action? Doesn't matter for DeLaGarza.
“I’m ready," said the Maryland product. "If I’m called upon, I’ll be ready."