Carson, CA. – This was not the kind of encore Romain Alessandrini had envisioned with the LA Galaxy.
The midfielder from Marseille, France was last year’s leading scorer with 13 goals and 12 assists in his first season with the five-time MLS Cup champions and arguably was the lone offensive threat for a club that suffered through the worst season in franchise history. This year, with the arrival of strikers Ola Kamara and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, similar numbers have been hard to come by for the talented Frenchman who has five goals and five assists.
And now playing time is at a premium. He has subbed on in two of the last three games, but Alessandrini has provided a surprising spark off the bench. His two assists, for example, in another relief performance helped ignite a 3-1 victory last weekend in Philadelphia.
Alessandrini grudgingly admitted he has accepted his substitute role – although Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid told reporters after the win he doesn’t consider him a sub – but that doesn’t mean he likes it.
“No,” he said with a laugh as the club prepared for Thursday’s highly anticipated rematch with LAFC at Banc of California Stadium (7:30 p.m., ESPN). “But it’s my job. It’s different for me, but I have to deal with it and give everything I can for the team. Every player has an ego and wants to play every game. I respect the decision but I want to be on the field.
“When I come in,” he went on, “I give everything I can to show the coach.”
Alessandrini said his relief effort in Philadelphia – he subbed on for struggling rookie Tomas Hilliard-Arce at the start of the second half – helped ease the disappointment of losing his starting role.
But only a little.
“There was a little frustration at the beginning,” he said. “But when you help the team win it’s a good feeling. Every player wants to feel that, and the last game was successful for me and the team.
“I am a little bit frustrated about being on the bench, but it’s part of my job and I have to deal with that. If I get assists and score goals every time I come into the game it’s good for me.
“It’s not bad.”
DERBY IN THE MAKING
Ibrahimovic said it’s too early to talk about a burgeoning derby involving the Galaxy and LAFC, who meet for only the second time ever on Thursday night at Banc of California Stadium.
The Galaxy won the inaugural meeting, 4-3, on March 31 at StubHub center, thanks to two second-half goals from Ibrahimovic, who was making his initial appearance with the club.
Ibrahimovic, who has 12 goals and four assists in just 15 games, said he knows what makes for an appealing rivalry.
“I think when the fans enjoy it and you get the right result for yourself, that’s the best scenario,” he said. “Hopefully we win and the fans enjoy the game. You always want to give back to the fans.
“This is still fresh, this derby you’re talking about … LAFC is a new team. You cannot talk historically about previous games, only about the game we had. But in time it will be more talked about what happened before.
“You’ll get new moments.”
Midfielders Sebastian Lletget (ankle) and Bradford Jamieson IV (strained hip) have been training at full speed and will be available for Thursday’s game against LAFC and Sunday’s match at StubHub Center against Orlando City, Schmid said.
Right back Rolf Feltscher, who has missed the last 13 games after undergoing shoulder surgery, also could be returning in the near future.
Make that very near future.
“We’re just waiting for the doctor’s clearance on him,” Schmid said. “We’re hoping soon, within the next week.”
Schmid pointed out having more healthy players at his disposal is a nice problem to have.
“It helps us because we have more options,” he said. “More options means people are more motivated because they want to keep their spot on the field.
“It’s a good thing.”