Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hot Hot Heat

This time one week ago, the Galaxy were training under dark, grey skies with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees.

The last two days, the sun has been shining brightly over The Home Depot Center, with temperatures in the triple digits.

But despite those differences, there is one constant between this week and last.

The Galaxy have the best record in MLS.

With just one month remaining in the regular season, Bruce Arena's squad sit two points ahead of Real Salt Lake for the league's best record, despite falling at home to New York on Friday night. Salt Lake are in action on Saturday night in New England while the Galaxy play just over 24 hours later when they take on Chivas USA in the second leg of the Honda SuperClasico.

A win or a draw will give the Galaxy their third straight SuperClasico title and their fifth in the six year history of the competition while also eliminating their rivals from postseason contention.

While that would be an nice ancillary benefit, the Galaxy players and coaches are focused instead on just playing better and moving past last week's loss to the Red Bulls.

With that goal in mind, the squad has gone through two full days of training and fitness work despite the heatwave that has hit the region. Two of the players that have been on the field each of the last two days are Gregg Berhalter and Omar Gonzalez, each of who missed the loss to New York.

Gonzalez was suspended for that game while Berhalter missed his sixth straight game because of a neck strain. Berhalter returned to training last week and could be in the squad for the first time since August 14, while Gonzalez is almost a certainty to be back in the starting lineup, a place that he has been for every league game that he has been eligible for since joining the Galaxy last season. In the four games that Gonzalez has missed this season in all competitions (two in the league because of suspension, one in the Open Cup and one in the Champions League where he was an unused substitute), LA are 1-3-0 and have been outscored 8-3.With Gonzalez once again returning and Berhalter on the road to recovery, Bruce Arena could have his full squad at his disposal on Sunday evening for the first time all season. As a result, the intensity has been as high as the temperatures over the last two days as guys look to catch the eye of the coaches and get themselves into the 18-man squad against Chivas USA.
Luckily for Bruce, the game is still five days (and three training sessions) away, giving him more than enough time to decide who will be in and who will be out come Sunday.

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