Tough news for LA this week, as several key players became unavailable for the LA Galaxy. Nigel De Jong is confirmed to be transferred to Galatasaray in Turkey and Zardes is out for the remainder of the season with a fracture in his foot, meaning the team will be looking for long term replacements for both of these players. Shorter term replacements will be needed as Jelle Van Damme will be out for 2-3 weeks with an MCL sprain and Steven Gerrard will be out for “a couple weeks” with a hamstring strain. In addition to those four, Robbie Keane played in Ireland midweek for his international farewell match, so it would be best not to expect 90 minutes out of him in LA on Saturday.
The Galaxy currently stand in 4th in the Western Conference with 40 points, just 8 points behind league leading FC Dallas and 8 points above the first team below the playoff line in the West, San Jose. With just eight games remaining in the regular season, and six of the eight games against Western Conference opponents, the team needs to try to steal as many points as they can. The best and worst news comes in playing Dallas, the top team in the league, two times in the remaining eight games. Luckily, both of those games against FC Dallas are in October, when Keane, Van Damme and Gerrard could potentially be back and healthy.
So, what do the Galaxy do now?
In all honesty, the team has had to have a backup ready for De Jong since they acquired him in the offseason. His reputation has preceded him into the league, and in the 5 games he was suspended this season prove just that. Larentowicz has been stepping up and adding that bit of aggressiveness that LA lacks in the midfield when De Jong was not available. In Gerrard’s absence, Baggio Husidic has been filling in to mixed reviews. The pair of Larentowicz and Husidic saw time together in Chicago last week for the 2-2 draw against the Fire. Although this line up seemed to be put together to rest the veterans, it will probably be close to what Bruce will be relying on in the midfield, at least until Gerrard returns from injury.
Another relatively stable insertion into the lineup is Daniel Steres. He spent plenty of minutes alongside Van Damme this season and is most likely going to fill that role in Van Damme’s absence. A veteran like Ashley Cole is a valuable asset with the inexperience Steres brings to the back line.
The offense is going to be the biggest issue for LA moving forward. The team has already had problems scoring goals this season, so taking Zardes out of the picture is going to add extra stress to the situation. This will be an opportunity for younger guys like Emma Boetang and Ariel Lassiter to fight for first team minutes. Alan Gordon and Jose Villareal are also viable options to help bolster the offense and get LA back into its goal scoring routine.
It’s not as scary as it seems for the LA Galaxy, but it is time for the team to prove that it can overcome major contributors to their success being unavailable.