Following the Galaxy’s season opening victory over the Portland Timbers, there was a positive buzz surrounding the staff’s newfound priority on fitness.
Having lamented the team’s habit of tiring at the end of games, Sigi Schmid installed Pierre Barrieu last August as the new Director of Sports Performance. Barrieu is widely recognized as the person responsible for the superior fitness of the U.S. Men’s National Team sides from 2002-2011. See: Landon Donovan’s game-winner vs. Algeria in the 2010 South Africa World Cup. (Btw, that’s him below in the purple bib)
Long story short, his teams are fit. And true to form, Pierre ran the team ragged during the preseason, running two-a-days under the unforgiving Tucson heat.
During the sessions in Arizona, Barrieu and his medical team ran the squad through what he calls threshold training. During the sessions, players sprinted at full speed around the practice field for what the Frenchman described as a moderate duration. The exercise took place in three different intervals until completion.
The exercise was no walk in the park for the team as several described the training regimen as the toughest they’ve endured during their professional careers. According to Barrieu, the work in Arizona doesn’t simply build the fitness base of Galaxy players, but also fortifies them in other ways.
After Juan Carlos Osorio hinted this year’s Galaxy might be in better physical condition, the hard work showed vs. the Timbers. Yes, it was the first match and legs would eventually become heavy but LA were a noticeably fitter side. Emmanuel Boateng is someone who has struggled with fatigue in the past but thrived in a strong 83-minute showing.
There are some caveats to the Frenchman’s methods. A steep learning curve can compromise players unaccustomed to the rigors of such intense training. (Famously Barrieu used to send USA regulars impossible routines as a joke)
In the past few weeks, all the work may have taken a toll on the Galaxy’s legs. Giovani dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini and João Pedro have been sidelined with hamstring injuries, and now Jonathan dos Santos is out after suffering a hamstring pull of his own during a closed-door scrimmage with Mexico. Additionally Michael Ciani suffered a groin injury vs. NCYFC.
Obviously its concerning to lose all three of your Designated Player to muscle pulls. That being said, its a temporary setback that should be ironed out in the long-run. Barrieu is known for pushing teams to the max, but not necessarily overworking players.
Plus, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Had the dos Santos brothers not been injured the pair would still be unavailable for Saturday’s game vs. the Whitecaps as well as Norway-bound Ola Kamara. For now, the team should concentrate on getting the injured personnel rested and ready for LAFC on the 31st.