A.J. DeLaGarza's aim is to be ready for the LA Galaxy's SuperClasico showdown this weekend with Chivas USA, but he knows his reach might exceed his grasp.
The veteran defender, who suffered a deep ankle contusion in the Galaxy's draw nine days ago at Real Salt Lake, spent Monday morning's training session at StubHub Center running the field's perimeter, but he hopes to be practicing fully in the next couple of days. That would give him a chance to contribute in Sunday's first meeting this season between the cross-the-hall rivals.
“I'm being optimistic,” DeLaGarza said. “Hopefully, I can get out there and help the team [this weekend]. At the same time, I'm not going to put the team out there and not be able to perform 100 percent. Someone else can go there and do the job, and be healthy, but my goal is to be on the field any way possible.”
He was hurt on a late challenge by RSL forward Alvaro Saborio in the 63rd minute of the March 22 game in Sandy, Utah, a tackle the Galaxy considered “dirty,” then played another 10 minutes before limping off after it was aggravated by contact with Olmes Garcia.
Saborio angled his run to make contact with DeLaGarza, who had just sent a ball forward following a pass back to him.
“[The injury] was pretty bad,” DeLaGarza said. “Immediately after that foul, I got off to the sideline, and you could already see it looked like I was wearing an ankle pad. It was frustrating. I tried to play through it and hoped it would go away, but the last 20 minutes of the game I didn't want to risk having to chase someone down and not being able to and giving up a late goal or something like that. I thought it was best for me to step out and get someone who is healthy and preserve at least a point in Salt Lake, and we were able to do that.”
LA expected Major League Soccer's disciplinary committee to suspend Saborio for the foul, but they let stand the yellow card he received after the foul.
“And he scored two goals [in RSL's win Saturday over Toronto FC] ...,” DeLaGarza said. “They had a chance to go back and look at it. It's frustrating. If we had to play last week, I wouldn't have played. It's unfortunate, I guess.”
To play this week, he needs to return to full training. There is no timeline for that.
“Just going day by day, trying to see how it feels,” he said. “Today I was moving pretty well in some sprints and runs, so hopefully we can start working on it.”
Head coach Bruce Arena is cautiously optimistic.
“It's a little early right now,” he said. “It was a bad injury he suffered. It was a bad tackle. He took a stud and he's had a lot of swelling with that contusion. Hopefully, he's getting back.”