Curt Onalfo was succinct when asked what kind of shape the Galaxy is in for Saturday night’s Cali Clasico, a match against the San Jose Earthquakes that is expected to draw a crowd of at least 50,000 in Stanford Stadium.
“We’re depleted,” the first-year coach said.
Giovani dos Santos, the Galaxy’s second-leading scorer, is in Russia, playing for Mexico in the Confederations Cup. Forward Gyasi Zardes is with the U.S. national team preparing for the Gold Cup.
Goalie Brian Rowe (groin) and midfielders Sebastian Lletget (broken bone in left foot) and Baggio Husidic (broken left fibula) are out. Midfielder Jermaine Jones (right-knee sprain) and defenders Bradley Diallo (hamstring) and Daniel Steres (hamstring) are questionable.
“Nobody cares, because it just doesn’t matter,” Onalfo said, refusing to play the woe-is-me card. “Our attitude is it’s an opportunity for somebody to step in and do a job.”
Injuries and international assignments have tested the depth of the Galaxy, which is nearing the end of a stretch of seven games in 17 days, but they seem no worse for the wear.
They’re 6-1-4 since April 29, their 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City last Saturday snapping an eight-game unbeaten streak, and have gotten contributions from young players such as forwards Bradford Jamieson, Ariel Lassiter, Jack McInerney and Jamie Villarreal, midfielder Joao Pedro and defender Dave Romney.
Lassiter and Jamieson both scored in Wednesday night’s 2-0 U.S. Open Cup win over Sacramento Republic, Lassiter on a pretty 21-yard free kick that he curled over the wall and into the right side of the net, and Jamieson on a 15-yard blast inside the near post after a lengthy run down the right flank.
“We feel like we have players who can step up in any situation,” Onalfo said. “We’re ready for the challenge.”
Dos Santos scored twice in the Galaxy’s 4-2 win at San Jose on May 27. Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. match marks the halfway point of the season for the Galaxy, which lost seven of their first nine MLS games but rebounded in April and May and are in sixth place in the Western Conference, with 22 points and a 6-4-6 record.
“I want to be farther up in the standings,” Onalfo said, “but I feel like we’re trending in the right direction.”
The Earthquakes, in fifth place with 23 points and a 6-5-6 record, responded from Sunday’s firing of Coach Dominic Kinnear with a 2-1 win over Seattle in a U.S. Open Cup match Wednesday night.
Former defender Chris Leitch took over as coach for San Jose, which will also host the Galaxy in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal game on July 10.