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Galaxy gets some players back for game in Houston

Steven Gerrard

Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard could return to the lineup Friday night.

(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

The Galaxy limped into Houston for Friday night’s game with the Dynamo missing two starters while welcoming four other players back from injury. And given the way the first 1 1/2 months of the Major League Soccer season have unfolded for Bruce Arena’s team, that marks huge progress.

The Galaxy have seen 10 first-team players miss time to injury in the first five games. The latest is right back Robbie Rogers, who sustained a hip contusion in the opening minutes of Sunday’s draw with Portland and did not practice this week.

Midfielder Nigel de Jong is also out this week after being suspended by the league’s disciplinary committee for a reckless tackle that sent the Timbers’ Darlington Nagbe to the sidelines. The length of his absence is also uncertain although the league is expected to add at least two additional games to the ban Friday.

Yet despite all that, the Galaxy is actually getting stronger. Attacker Giovani dos Santos played Sunday for the first time in more than a month and midfielders Steven Gerrard and Jeff Larentowicz, defender A.J. DeLaGarza and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy all made the trip to Houston, a team spokesman said.

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Gerrard (calf injury) and DeLaGarza (foot) have combined to play just three minutes in the last three games but are likely to start Friday in place of Rogers and De Jong. Larentowicz, who underwent winter surgery for a hernia, hasn’t appeared in a game this season. Kennedy came out of the opener after 18 minutes because of a groin injury.

Kennedy probably will remain on the bench for the time being, because his replacement, Brian Rowe, has played brilliantly, leading MLS in save percentage after stopping 17 of 20 shots.

“You have to hang in there with it. What are you going to do?” Arena, the Galaxy’s coach and general manager, said of the injuries. “The nice part is after so many years you understand it. You can’t change anything.

“In another two weeks all of a sudden we’re going to have too many players available. Then you go into that cycle, then something else will happen along the way. Nothing you can do about it.”

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A shortened roster might be the least of Arena’s problems. The Galaxy (2-1-2) are coming off a short week, having played Sunday night at the StubHub Center. Plus they’re winless and goalless on the road this season and haven’t won in more than six years in Houston.

The Dynamo (1-2-2), meanwhile, are unbeaten in three games at home this season and are second in MLS in goals with 12. But they’ve given up a league-high four scores in the final 15 minutes plus stoppage time, allowing three wins to get away by conceding a goal after the 82nd minute.

Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter: @kbaxter11


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