CARSON, CA - APRIL 23: David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy reacts as teammate Sean Franklin #5 receives a yellow card from referee Ramon Hernandez for a foul on Kalif Alhassan #11 of the Portland Timbers in the first half during the MLS match at The Home Depot Center on April 23, 2011 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated the Timbers 3-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
As LA sets to battle the Portland Timbers over the weekend, things are a bit turbulent in the camp of the defending champs. The LA Galaxy have only three points through four matches, equaling their second lowest total through four outings in club history. Only the 1999 version of the Galaxy had fewer points at this point. Given that many Galaxy fans have never seen a start this sluggish from their club, it's understandable that many hands are flying for the panic button. However, manager Bruce Arena is preaching caution:
It’s not time to push the panic button. It’s like the president who’s got the black bag close, if you’ve got to send off the missiles and stuff, we’ve got it ready in case we have to do it too. It’s time for us to start winning, no question about it. Is it the panic button? No, but we’ve got to win games.
It sounds like, with the black bag metaphor, Arena is suggesting the team knows what's what, and can go bonkers if it needs to. Like the Galaxy are in second gear since it's only one month into the season, but can go into fourth gear if the gap gets too wide.
It is true that LA started out without training together, and then went two matches without one of their DPs. They were without Landon Donovan against the New England Revolution, and when the Galaxy lost 1-0 at Sporting Kansas City last week, they did it without David Beckham who didn't make the trip. Good news for Galaxy fans is that Beckham is back to feeling tip top again:
I’m feeling a lot better than I was. It seems to have cleared up but it’s still a little bit tight. It shouldn’t be an issue for this weekend.
After weeks of either Landon Donovan or Beckham with a knock, hopefully this is a return to a full strength Galaxy squad. If the Galaxy can put out the starting XI they did against DC United, hopefully that will mean they can play like the squad that defeated DC 3-1. As captain Donovan said:
At this point we need as many guys to start producing as possible. This week there has been a lot of focus on continuing to get things right.
The Galaxy have lost back to back matches for the first time since August 21-28 2010. They have not lost three consecutive matches in the Bruce Arena era. So basically the Galaxy need to get points from the match on Saturday, or the club is officially in their worst stretch since Arena took the helm.
Arena did make a move midweek, bringing in David Junior Lopes from Chivas USA and giving up Paolo Cardozo. With neither Tommy Meyer or Andrew Boyens standing out at the center back position, and with the Galaxy lack depth beyond that a move had to be made. The club is trying to convert Bryan Jordan and Bryan Gaul (no relation) to defenders, but in the short term they're missing Leonardo and Omar Gonzalez. This move seems to suggest Leonardo won't be available in two matches as was originally hoped for.
Those are the discussions we had with Chivas. We think he’s a player that can help us. We’re a little behind with Leonardo coming back. Our plan was that he was going to be ready in March and he’s going to need a little more time. He just started training. He’s trained this week with the team, which is the first time and that’s good.
Leonardo had to have a second surgery to remove scar tissue in November, and the recovery has run behind schedule. Still, he might be available early or mid-May, which is why:
Sometimes you’ve got to do things for the long term. I think Lopes is a solution for the short term.