The Galaxy headed into the off-season with several holes to fill in their midfield but with one of the strongest defenses in MLS. Yet now, a week before the regular-season opener, the back line has been decimated by injury while the midfield has been strengthened by three winter signings.
The latest defender to go down is left back Ashley Cole, who sustained a calf strain in a scrimmage Tuesday. He’s expected to be sidelined a month, missing the team’s first three regular-season games.
Already out is right back Robbie Rogers, who lost all feeling in his left foot after December ankle surgery. He has not stepped on a soccer field in two months and there is no timetable for his return.
Also sidelined indefinitely is forward Gyasi Zardes, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month. Zardes hasn’t played or taken part in a first-team training session with Galaxy since breaking a bone in his foot in August. He is expected to resume training sometime next week.
Coach Curt Onalfo said Friday that Dave Romney is among the candidates to replace Cole, 36. Romney started eight games last season.
On the other side Onalfo has given Rogers’ spot to Rafael Garcia, a natural midfielder, who played in six games for the Galaxy last season.
“I still think that our defense is very, very good. It’s just a matter of training players in the right position,” said Onalfo, who took over the Galaxy in December after Bruce Arena left to join the national team.
The injuries will also test the Galaxy’s depth.
“That’s all part of it,” Onalfo said. “That’s why you put a team together one through 26.”
The Galaxy play their final preseason exhibition of the winter Saturday at 8 p.m. when they meet the Portland Timbers at the StubHub Center. That will give Onalfo a chance to look at the rebuilt midfield of Romain Alessandrini, Joao Pedro, Jermaine Jones and Sebastian Lletget. Only Lletget was with the team last season.
“We’ve definitely made our midfielder better,” Onalfo said. “But our back line is solid as well.”
Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11