Carson, CA. – There suddenly are positive vibes surrounding the LA Galaxy.
The five-time MLS Cup champions have lost just once in an eight-game streak (4-1-3) during which they have outscored their opponents 17-9. They’re now eighth in the Western Conference and are one point out of a playoff spot that appeared to be wishful thinking only a few weeks ago.
There also is good news on the injury front. Ola Kamara, who had to be subbed out after 60 minutes in last Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Columbus because of a strained left calf, has trained all week and is expected to be available for this Saturday’s match in New England (4:30 p.m., SpectrumSN, Spectrum Deportes). Bradford Jamieson, recovering from a strained hip, also has been working out and could see playing time this weekend as well.
Even Rolf Feltscher, who has been sidelined since late April after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in his right shoulder during a training session, is well on the road to recovery. An optimistic Feltscher went so far as to say he has a return date in mind, but he politely refrained from revealing it.
“The doctors told me four months, but we’ll see if we can go a little faster,” he said. “Yeah, I have a date in mind but I won’t tell you. It’s soon, yes.”
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid, however, knows what it is. But he also chose not to divulge it.
“I know what the return date is,” he said. “It’s a lot earlier than what the doctors planned, but I think he has a chance of achieving it.
“He’s getting close. Physically, running-wise and all that, he can do everything. It’s just a matter of making sure the muscle is fully stable and that he doesn’t fall and injure himself.
“He’s very close to being able to pass the fitness test.”
Feltscher, who has missed the last 11 games, said the range in his injured shoulder is “very good” and pointed out doctors told him it was “much better than they expected.”
“I hope that’s why I think I can come back faster,” he said. “It’s the most ugly thing, I would say, to be injured during the season. Especially when you prepare so hard, then you get injured and you have to prepare all over again. That’s really hard. I want to go back to the condition I had before, even better, as fast as possible.”
He called regaining his fitness the biggest challenge in his recovery.
“I’m working on it now,” he said while catching his breath after training. “But if I’m honest, I’m suffering.”
The native of Yorba Linda, flourishing on the outside of what Schmid has called “a cockeyed 3-5-2” formation, has either a goal or an assist in each of his last six matches. He has three goals and four assists on the season.
Pontius, however, downplayed his recent efforts.
“It’s more of a team thing,” he said. “Whether that 3-5-2 with me out wide is suiting me better or just the team has been playing better, I think it’s a combination of both.
“We’ve been creating more chances, so that gets everyone in the box a little bit more.”
Pontius said he couldn’t remember if he previously had a similar point streak during his career.
“I’m not sure, to be honest. I don’t track stats like that,” he said with a grin. “It’s nice. Personally it’s good to get on the stat sheet, but I just think it’s more of us figuring out who we are as a team and our identity and the way we play.
“We created a number of chances last week and put up goals in games and we figured out how to keep them out this last game,” he went on with a laugh.
He also admitted he’s simply been in the right place at the right time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s been lucky.
“I think that’s a skill,” he said. “Look at someone like Wondo (San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski), who’s made a career out of being in the right place at the right time. You look at what he’s done, especially his first years in the league being a little bumpy. It wasn’t always pretty in terms of not getting playing time, but then he gets on a hot streak and takes off.”
Wondolowski, by the way, is second behind only Landon Donovan in career MLS regular-season goals. Wondolowski trails Donovan 145-140.
VIVE LA FRANCE
It’s safe to say the Galaxy’s Romain Alessandrini and Michael Ciani have more than a passing interest in Sunday’s World Cup final in Moscow, where France will take on Croatia.
Alessandrini hails from Marseilles and Ciani was born in Clichy-sous-Bois, a suburb of Paris.
“It’s always nice to see your country in this kind of competition. Hopefully on Sunday France is going to win the World Cup,” Alessandrini said. “There is a young generation of players with (Kylian) Mbappe, (Ousmane) Dembele, (Antoine) Griezmann and (Paul) Pogba who play very well.
“It was tough during the group stage but then they got a lot of confidence.”
Alessandrini said he isn’t nervous yet – “No, it’s exciting,” he said with a grin – and has heard from a number of friends in France about the game. He also said he has yet to make any friendly wagers, “but we’ll see this week.”
“There are a lot of people that want to go to Russia to watch the game,” he said. “Everyone is excited. Now one more game to win the World Cup.”