Back in business for LA
This week, it was back to work for the Los Angeles Galaxy, who were prepping for Saturday's contest with the New England Revolution (8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET, NBC Sports). Along the way, the team has been able to gel and develop some chemistry.
“We never kind of caught a rhythm because of fatigue and all that kind of stuff,” manager Bruce Arena told LAGalaxy.com's Larry Morgan.
For the Galaxy, it has been a long, grueling start to the year and for Arena, the team just had to get on with it.
“No excuses,” Arena said. “It’s a little bit better now to have this where we get a little bit of training in and get to know each other a little better.
“We needed a little bit of rest.”
With Michael Stephens returning to the club after a dismal Olympics qualifying run, three players are missing from the roster: Omar Gonzalez, who is expected to miss most of the season after undergoing knee surgery in January, fellow center back Leonardo, who is coming back from major knee surgery of his own last April, and goalkeeper Brian Perk, sidelined 4-6 weeks after sports hernia surgery.
“We couldn’t get our guys here to play as a unit," said forward Chad Barrett. "We had to figure out how to play without Omar. We had to figure out how Edson was going to pair up top with Keane. And me getting back from injury, tons of things.
“Most important, we had to learn how to play as a unit. Now we’ve played a few games and everybody knows what to expect from everybody.”
Big Bill steps up to the plate
Bill Gaudette has stepped in as the second string goalkeeper with Brian Perk's absence.
“It was nice to be back with the boys, getting back on the field and competing,” Gaudette told Morgan. “It’s been a while. Hopefully I’m back fully healthy. I’m excited.”
Arena knew what to expect from Gaudette, given his extensive experience in goal.
“He’s an experienced goalkeeper,” Arena concluded. “There’s no reason to believe he’s not going to be a player who’s capable of playing for us.”
Goalkeepers coach Ian Feuer recalled Gaudette's performance against the Galaxy a couple of years ago as a member oif the Puerto Rico Islanders.
“One of the things that attracted us to him was when we played against Puerto Rico,” Feuer said. “He played really well and showed he was capable of shutting us down and controlling the box and all that.
“But whoever comes into the Galaxy there’s always stuff to work on, whether it’s (Donovan) Ricketts, (Josh) Saunders or (Brian) Perk. I have no problem with any of our three guys playing. They could do the job at any time.”
In the meantime, Saunders is expected to earn the start on Saturday against the New England Revolution.
The ongoing center back question
The question has troubled Galaxy fans for ages: who is going to replace Omar Gonzalez at center back?
Will it be the veteran Andrew Boyens? Or will it be the rookie, Tommy Meyer? According to a poll on LAGalaxy.com, nearly 57 percent would prefer the rookie.
“As a player you always want to start the game but I have a huge respect for the other players and the coaching staff on this team and at the end of the day, what’s most important is that we’re getting results,” Boyens told MLSsoccer.com's Luis Bueno. “It’s up to Bruce [Arena] to put the lineup on the field.
"If it’s me, great. If it’s not then I’ll work hard to get back in there.”