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Galaxy youngsters fight the first-season grind

Michael Stephens ( 

Photo by Don Feria/


For Los Angeles Galaxy youngsters Michael Stephens and Tristan Bowen, the season has been something of a roller coaster.

The young duo have been key contributors to the Galaxy, with Bowen tallying two goals and an assist while Stephens has seven assist and a goal. However, as Los Angeles has descended into its current 1-3-1 slump, the contributions of the youngsters have also dipped. The rookies have failed to register a point since July 4th.

Despite the slip, Galaxy coaches believe a rebound is on the horizon. 

"Mike has played and started in a lot more games than we all may have thought and his low points haven't been so low," said Galaxy assistant coach David Sarachan. "With Tristan's its been a bit of an overload not coming from a college environment, but for the most part our young guys have managed pretty well."  

Stephens has been a revelation for the Galaxy, having appeared in a team-high 22 matches so far this season. In fact, the only match that Stephens has not appeared for the Galaxy during this season was last week's 1-1 draw against Chicago Fire. 

Coming from the three-month college calendar to the eight month MLS schedule, the UCLA product states that there is a significant difference in terms of the physical demands.  

"We've entered the home stretch of our season and with the playoffs, our season from here on in will still be longer than their season, " said Stephens. "It's crazy to think that they're just starting and we're supposedly on our home stretch, so its definitely been an adjustment."

Bowen represents a completely different type of youth player. Rather than coming in from college, the 19-year-old was signed from the Galaxy academy. He spent the last three years playing in the now defunct reserve division as well as being placed on a host of loans with lower division sides. 

Bowen appeared in just one league match prior to his success in 2010. Bowen admits that, it is still a great challenge to adjust to the grind of the season. 

"Everything is still pretty new to me, now that we're in the stretch of the season, you feel a bit more fatigue and you feel a bit more wear and tear on your body than you did in the beginning of the season, " said Bowen. "Still at this part of the season, we don't have as much rest as earlier and everyone is going to tire, but its important to just remain a good professional." 

Los Angeles is set to get an injection of talent with the returns of midfielders Juninho and David Beckham in the coming weeks, but that doesn't mean the youngsters won't still have key roles in the Galaxy's offense. In order to reduce the workload on Stephens and Bowen, Los Angeles has tried to limit the duo's minutes recently to prepare them for the stretch run, which continues this weekend against the Eastern Conference leading Columbus Crew.

Sarachan understands that it is tremendously difficult to keep these young players fresh heading into the closing parts of the season. 

"It's the ultimate challenge with young players coming from club or college environment to sustain themselves over this long season," said Sarachan. "As a staff, we're aware of the moments where we might need an extra moment or two, it's hard to go wire to wire at a high level, we just hope that low points aren't that so low that the guys lose confidence."

With the Galaxy's once firm stranglehold over the Supporters Shield now gone, Stephens is acutely aware that for the Galaxy to break out of their most recent slump, the young pair must return to the form that they enjoyed in the early part of the season. 

"Physically, it hasn't been so bad because I have a good engine on me but mentally this stretch week after week has been tough, but I need to keep going," said Stephens. "We're getting towards the end and we've got to be focused so we can finish strong."


  1. BetaMale and dantheblue…. relax… the author was asking how these youngsters felt in a long season and tying that to their drop in form. The article was good but it lead you to believe they are complaining. Re-read their quotes. They never complain, just state that the season is long and they have to adjust. They answered the questions that were posed to them. You both are getting your panties all tied up. Any rookie for any pro team in any sport will tell you the same stuff.

  2. Yeah, he’s skilled. Good dribbler, has some moves. Has some nice through balls on occasion. Needs a more accurate cross and shot, and more experience. Decent-to-good prospect. I assume he’s better than Findley at the same age.

  3. Betamale, you have no idea of how many times you piss me off but in this case I agree with you. I’ve been saying for years that the people who are paid to play a game should understand the privilege it is… whether it be baseball or basketball or football, you are a professional athlete. you are paid to play… you don’t get to be tired… Perform or go home. I’m not interested in your excuses…

    Like Omar, he better not EVER make another mistake cuz I’m gonna wonder about his concentration level… Oops, goal v galaxy becasue Omar screwed up… I’m wondering if he’s looking at the honey in section 136 or whatever he’s thinking about…

    I still contend that Donovan better put that team on his back and carry them, natural leader or not (as pointed out the last time I wrote that) LAG is LD’s team… Get your team together young man…

  4. Wow, I am so sick of the “We’re tired” line from these Galaxy players. They got bounced early from every competition and have all home games from here on out. They were complaining about fixture congestion from day one of the CCL.

    You don’t see Columbus bitching about being in the finals of the Open Cup or heading along in the CCL, while maintaining their reign as best team in MLS for the past 3 seasons.

    You’re a pro, suck it up and do your job.

  5. I always seem to catch only LAG games where Bowen isn’t on the field much at all. Is he actually skilled? Or is he just a younger, slightly slower, Findley?


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