Carson, CA — The LA Galaxy’s training camp isn’t even three weeks old and a number of unfamiliar faces dot the roster, but new goalkeeper David Bingham already has learned at least two things about the five-time MLS Cup champions who are trying to rebound from the worst season in franchise history.
“We’re fit and we’re really good,” he said with a grin as the team prepared for Saturday’s preseason match against New York City FC at 7 p.m. at StubHub Center. The match will be streamed live on www.lagalaxy.com. “Right now you can make the argument that we have the best roster, top to bottom, in the league.”
Head coach Sigi Schmid, who took over for the dismissed Curt Onalfo last July 27, spearheaded a stunning, off-season roster makeover that features the addition of at least 10 new players. They include two new goalies (Bingham and Brian Sylvestre), four new backliners (Switzerland’s Rolf Feltscher, top draft pick Tomas Hilliard-Arce out of Stanford; Emrah Klimenta of Sacramento and Norwegian Jorgen Skjelvik), two midfielders (Servando Carrasco and Perry Kitchen, fresh from two years in Denmark and Scotland) and two forwards (Ola Kamara, acquired in a trade with the Columbus Crew for Gyasi Zardes, and 2016 MLS Comeback Player of the Year Chris Pontius).
“Right now you can make the argument that we have the best roster, top to bottom, in the league.” David Bingham, LA Galaxy Goalkeeper
There may be some concerns from outsiders about how quickly the Galaxy’s new personalities will mesh, but not from Bingham’s point of view.
“Obviously there’s going to be a little time to get on the same page,” he admitted. “That’s natural for any team, regardless of whether you have any new players or not, but I think we’re going to mesh a lot quicker than people think.”
Schmid and his staff took an early step in calming those so-called worries by having his team train for a week in Tucson, Ariz. The Galaxy lost to Real Salt Lake 3-1 in a preseason tune-up last Saturday but Schmid said the scrimmage, played in three 30-minute segments, was directed at improving the club’s fitness more than getting a positive result.
“We wanted to make sure that our fitness level is better than it was last year,” he said. “We did a lot of good work down there. The other thing for us that was important is we have a lot of new players, so for them to spend some together off the field as well as on the field they get to know each other much better.
“I think in Tucson we accomplished both of those goals.”
Schmid said he will have two groups playing 45 minutes each on Saturday, although a select player or two may be asked to go a bit longer.
“But based on the amount of work we did (Thursday) probably not,” he said. “This game is part of building our fitness still, so we’re sort of playing through the game.
“We would have normally never trained as hard as we did two days out.”
Baggio Husidic, who now owns the distinction of being the Galaxy’s longest-tenured player despite joining the club as recently as November, 2013 — Bradford Jamieson is the second-longest-tenured player after signing as a homegrown player in February, 2014 – said he is impressed with what he has seen so far in camp.
“The staff has done a great job putting a great group of guys together, brought in some great vets and some European guys that I think have the potential to make this club really good,” he said. “Just the overall feeling of the group has been really positive.”
Schmid said he also likes the team’s collective mood.
“I like the group’s spirit, the morale. Their cohesiveness together is good,” he said. “The other thing that has stood out for me is their willingness to implement what we’re asking them to do.
“We have to be a little patient at the beginning, but we want to get out of the blocks on March 4 (the regular-season opener against Portland at StubHub Center) and we want to get a good result.
“We want to be as sharp as we can on that particular day.”