As the LA Galaxy get ready to host the Colorado Rapids, they’re also hoping to get more out of Araujo, dos Santos, and Hernandez.
The LA Galaxy’s Julian Araujo turned 19 last month and hasn’t even played two full seasons of professional soccer, but the Lompoc native already has earned his place, not to mention his share of respect, on the five-time MLS Cup champions.
How long he holds on to that spot remains to be seen. There’s no question he’s become an invaluable member of the club as it looks to extend its six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2) on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park against the Colorado Rapids (7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet), but head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto foresees big things for the youngster — and they’re likely overseas.
“He’s growing and learning a lot,” he said of Araujo. “It’s very weird sometimes to find players that can grow and learn as fast as he can. We are very excited to have him because I think he’s a wonderful player.
“He’s playing with us right now, but I don’t know where he can finish. Right now we have him, but I think the future for him is really good. We are very happy with him.”
Araujo made his senior team debut on March 16, 2019 with a five-minute relief spell for Chris Pontius in a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United. He got his first start for the Galaxy a month later in a 2-1 win over Houston and finished with 18 appearances (including 10 starts) last season.
This season he has appeared in seventh matches (all starts) and has played either at right midfield or right back. The 5-foot-10, 154-pounder admitted the change in his comfort level is night and day compared to what it was a year ago at this time.
“I definitely feel a lot more confident. I feel a lot better with the team and with myself,” he said. “Just going into training every day I work hard and try to keep my spot.
“I just want to get minutes in. For me it’s just bettering every day and learning, getting advice from coaches and players and trying to apply it to my game. I think one of my biggest things is just be versatile and keep myself healthy and get as many minutes as I can.”
Araujo also said he is taking a more workman-like approach to the game.
“Just being more professional,” he explained. “Taking care of my body more, just working more on the things I need to work on, taking the time that I’m not training here and going out and doing extra training myself. One of my biggest things is taking care of my body. Even though I’m young it’s a profession now.
“As a young player I want to learn and be better every day. Every day is a good opportunity to learn. Whoever is giving me information I try to apply it to my game.”
That figures to be a big help to a Galaxy (4-3-3, 15 points) team which has been one of the hottest clubs in MLS of late and has shut out its last two opponents (Los Angeles FC and San Jose). They haven’t lost since a 6-2 thrashing by LAFC on July 18 at the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla., and have outscored opponents 12-4 during this stretch.
But they could face a formidable opponent in the Rapids (3-4-4, 13 points), who did lose at FC Dallas 4-1 on Wednesday but won both meetings with the Galaxy a year ago and have not lost at Dignity Health Sports Park since the 2017 season. A win or a tie on Saturday would stretch the Galaxy’s unbeaten run to seven games, their longest since going 6-0-1 early in the 2019 season.
Galaxy left back Emiliano Insua said a greater attention to detail has made all the difference lately.
“We have been doing a lot of things in training,” he said. “After Orlando I think we’ve been training really well. The results in Orlando of course were not so good. After that we needed to work as a team in terms of defensive things, in terms of shape, in terms of working together.
“I think in the last few games we’ve been doing very well. That’s why I think we’re getting really good results.”
In other Galaxy news, the waiting game for Columbian midfielder Yony González finally may be reaching its conclusion.
Schelotto said he spoke Thursday with González, who has completed the necessary paperwork, and his arrival in Southern California appears to be imminent. González was acquired on loan from Portugal’s SL Benfica in mid-August, but Visa problems have kept him from joining the team.
“Everything is OK and soon he will be ready for us,” Schelotto said.
He also said Jonathan dos Santos and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, both of whom are recovering from injuries, could see more playing time this weekend.
Dos Santos has gone no longer than 35 minutes in five matches since returning from sports hernia surgery. Hernandez, recovering from a strained calf, went 33 minutes in last Sunday’s 0-0 tie with San Jose.
“We will talk to them tomorrow and then decide what we are going to do with them,” Schelotto said. “They are getting better. They played against San Jose, and I think now they are ready for more minutes.”