The Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget broke his foot March 24 while playing for the U.S. in a World Cup qualifying match against Honduras in San Jose and has been sidelined since. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)
Daniel Steres is used to watching Galaxy home games from the center of the field. But he watched the last one from the grandstand.
Same with midfielders Sebastian Lletget and Baggio Husidic. Goalkeeper Brian Rowe and midfielder Jermaine Jones watched from a luxury box.
It’s a trend, because over the last three weeks the Galaxy have taken the field without seven starters who were unavailable because of injury or international duty. Others, like midfielder Romain Alessandrini, the team’s leading scorer, have played hurt.
And that’s testing a thin roster scheduled to play seven games in a 17 days.
“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” said defender Dave Romney, who has had to start at all four back line spots this season. “But you just think about all the successful teams in sports, the Patriots or the Spurs; when guys go down it’s the next man up. That’s something we’ve done a pretty solid job of this season.”
So solid that the injury-riddled Galaxy (6-5-4) are unbeaten in their last eight MLS games heading into Saturday’s match with Sporting Kansas City (7-4-6), the Western Conference leader, at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., Spectrum SN, Spectrum Deportes).
“When you go through adversity you find out people’s true character,” said coach Curt Onalfo, who has refused to use the injuries as a crutch. “It’s easy when the sun’s out … and everything’s going your way. But it’s how you deal with difficult moments [that counts].
“We have a group that has excellent character.”
They may soon be getting healthy as well. Jones, out since May 6 with a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his right knee, and Steres, sidelined a month with a strained hamstring, have returned to training and could be back on the field early next month. Rowe (groin) and defender Bradley Diallo are expected back in the middle of July.
Onalfo will welcome the reinforcements.
Including Robbie Rogers, who was placed on the season-ending injury list without playing a minute this year, the Galaxy have seen 11 regulars miss 59 games this season because of injury. The wounded piled up so quickly that Onalfo didn’t have enough healthy bodies to fill out his bench last weekend, the first time he said he’s ever coached a game shorthanded.
“I’ve never been a part of something like this,” said Rowe, who has been sidelined twice by injury in the season’s first three months.
The injuries have ranged from freak (Rowe tweaked a groin muscle working out on an off day) to fractures (Husidic snapped his left fibula and Lletget broke a bone in his left foot). The Galaxy have also been hamstrung by hamstrings (Gio dos Santos, Steres and Bradley Diallo), hobbled by bad hips (goalkeeper Clement Diop) and sprained by strains (Jones and Ashley Cole).
The injuries have been so contagious that when Hugo Arellano bumped heads with Houston’s Juan David Cabezas late in his MLS debut last weekend, the team had him have X-rays to be sure his nose wasn’t broken.
He also had to finish out the game since Onalfo had no defenders on his bench.
If injuries have hurt the Galaxy, there has been some gain in the pain. Reserves such as Arellano, Nathan Smith, Rafael Garcia and Jaime Villarreal have gotten unexpected opportunities to play, earning experience that could prove valuable later in the season.
“These guys are getting minutes, quality minutes,” Steres said. “It’s going to be really important as we go down the year. These guys are ready to go.”
Player (position) Injury Games missed
Ashley Cole (left back) Calf 3@
Bradley Diallo (defender) Hamstring 2
Clement Diop (goalkeeper) Hip 6@
Giovani dos Santos (forward) Hamstring 1@
Jermaine Jones (midfielder) Knee 6
Baggio Husidic (midfielder) Broken fibula 4
Sebastian Lletget (midfielder) Foot 12
Robbie Rogers (right back) Foot 15#
Brian Rowe (goalkeeper) Shoulder, groin 4
Daniel Steres (center back) Hamstring 3
Gyasi Zardes (forward) Knee 3@
# On season-ending injury list
@ Returned from injury