CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy play their second league game of the season this weekend at Real Salt Lake (4 pm ET; NBCSN), the same club they faced in their opener two weeks earlier. Bruce Arena isn't exactly pleased about that.
With another set of back-to-back games, against Vancouver, awaiting in mid-April after the first SuperClasico of the season, and then a third set, against Seattle, to finish the season, the Galaxy's head coach and general manager wants to take the schedule makers to task.
“We've tried to make it clear to the league that we thought this was not the way to do it, but they have their own minds,” Arena said following LA's training session Thursday morning at StubHub Center. “We're going to be the only team in the league doing this on three occasions this year. I don't think it's good.”
Seven other teams, including Vancouver and Seattle with their games against the Galaxy, have back-to-back games with an opponent once this season. Houston faces successive games in July against Toronto (which has a game in between), Toronto and Philadelphia face off three days apart in September, and Portland and San Jose meet twice at the start of October.
The “only plus” to such scheduling, Arena says, is preparation for the matches is simpler. The Galaxy got a good look at RSL on March 8, dominating play but dropping a 1-0 decision. RSL drew last weekend at San Jose.
“We've seen Salt Lake,” Arena said. “We know their team, and they know us.”
The Galaxy are the away team against Chivas USA on April 6, then have the games against the Whitecaps on April 12 at StubHub and April 19 in Vancouver. They're home against Seattle on Oct. 19, then close the season at CenturyLink Field on Oct. 25.
“I think it's not a good way to end the year,” Arena said. “They tend to think that we [against Seattle] create the television ratings that haven't been there, that we're going to create them at the end of the year. But I think it's not the right way to do the competition. I think as much as possible, we should space the games out both in conference and out of conference the right way, not play them back-to-back games.”
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The RSL games weren't meant to be played back-to-back, but the Galaxy before the season moved their scheduled game last weekend against D.C. United to Aug. 27 to clear space between their quarterfinal legs with Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Landon Donovan has sympathy for those devising the schedule.
“It's unusual to play teams back to back unless it's a playoff series,” the Galaxy attacker said. “I don't envy the job of the schedule makers because, unfortunately, in this country we still don't have 19 teams that all have their own stadiums. And in some cases, teams that have their own stadiums have other dates that are being filled with concerts and stuff like that, so it's not an [enviable] task.
“In an ideal world, you don't play the same team back to back, but we're still in that place. And one day that won't be an issue anymore.”