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Soccer

Wounded Galaxy could struggle to field a team in Vancouver

Here’s how bad the start to the MLS season has gone for the Galaxy: Last week the team didn’t even play a game and still wound up losing a player to injury when midfielder Jonathan dos Santos strained a hamstring during a scrimmage with UC Santa Barbara.

For those keeping score at home, that’s eight injuries only two games into the schedule. And that doesn’t count captain Ashley Cole, who is out because of a suspension, and forward Ola Kamara and defender Emrah Klimenta, who are both off on international duty.

That will make it difficult for coach Sigi Schmid to put together a lineup when the Galaxy (1-1) meet the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at BC Place.

“It’s a little tougher on us. But we’ll figure out a way and we’ll get through it,” Schmid said. “We’re just going to give opportunities to other people.”

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The Galaxy have seen worse. Last year they were down 12 players going into a July game with Real Salt Lake. Three days earlier, they played San Jose with just four outfield players on the bench.

So now Schmid is looking for answers as to why players such as Gio dos Santos, out with his third hamstring strain since August, can’t stay healthy.

“There’s different reasons for different things,” Schmid said. “We’ve looked at it and said ‘is there anything that we have to change or adjust in our training?’ Is it a deficiency there?

“That’s something we’re trying to work out.”

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Schmid hopes to have three players — Chris Pontius (glute), Joao Pedro (hamstring) and Perry Kitchen (knee) — available Saturday though six of the players who started in the team’s season opener just three weeks ago are not expected to play on Vancouver’s artificial-turf field.

Kitchen, a holding midfielder, said he sustained a minor knee strain in the Galaxy’s loss at New York City two weeks ago and spent part of the last week training on his own, away from his teammates. He said the spate of injuries is especially frustrating because the team worked so hard on conditioning during the preseason.

“Guys don’t show up every day and work their tails off to get injured. So it was not ideal,” Kitchen said. “But we’re doing everything we can. Doing the stuff we need to do in the gym. Doing rehab sorts of things to make sure our bodies are ready to make sure this doesn’t happen.

“Injuries are part of the game. Whatever you want to chalk it up to — bad luck? — it is what it is. Hopefully the adjustments and changes we are making help us.”

One player who won’t be able to help ease the load immediately is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the team’s newest member, who agreed to a deal with the Galaxy on Thursday. The Swedish superstar isn’t expected in Southern California until the middle of next week, though he could suit up for the team’s next home game March 31 against crosstown rival LAFC.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11


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