By ADAM SERRANO
In 2009, the Los Angles Galaxy were a penalty kick shootout away from winning the third MLS Cup in the club's history. With a new season looming, the Galaxy will be looking to begin the road back to the final.
The Western Conference Champions trained on Friday morning before heading to Arizona on Friday afternoon for a training camp that includes matches against the Columbus Crew, Kansas City Wizards and the Colorado Rapids. Although the Galaxy are without their two biggest stars, the team is optimistic about building on last season's success.
"We're at a better place than we were last year," said defender Gregg Berhalter. "This year we're all on the same page and we're ready to build on what we did last year, which was being solid defensively and organized, which makes us a difficult team to beat.
"We already have that base so it's gives us a heads up above the rest."
On Friday, the team focused on a number of ball drills including the impressive four goal drill in which the field of play was spread among four different goals with the club attacking and defending each. During these drills the star of the show was forward Tristen Bowen who scored an impressive top-shelf goal, beating goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Perhaps the biggest story, however, is the continued development of the club's three Brazilian additions — midfielder Juninho, versatile defender Alex and center back Leonardo signed from Brazilian giant Sao Paulo. Signed this winter, the three have been a pleasant surprise during their time in Southern California. In particular, the play of Alex was in focus Friday as the defender saw time at the wing position as well as wing back. The Brazilian looked impressive in his ability to distribute to his fellow attackers creating a goal during a 6 v. 6 scrimmage.
The three Brazilians are also progressing in their integration to America as the club has hired an English teacher to help the players learn the language.
"They're all intelligent players, in particular, Alex is great going forward and has that Brazilian swagger," said defender AJ De La Garza. "We just try to help them with their English, but they're pretty experienced and know what to do on the field."
The Los Angeles club will be returning to the Southland in 10 days as they begin preparations for a March 10th friendly against Costa Rican side Puntarenas.
Lastly, today the Galaxy finalized a March 25th friendly with Salvadorian table toppers C.D. Aguila which will be one of the club's final friendlies before the start of the season.