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    Galaxy defense beset by injuries and international duty
    • June 24, 2023

    Chris Mavinga’s first season with the Galaxy was interrupted by injury.

    On Wednesday, Mavinga played 90 minutes in the Galaxy’s 2-2 draw against Sporting Kansas City. It was his first 90-minute effort since Oct. 9, 2022, when he was a member of Toronto FC.

    “I tried to do my job, I was focused on winning duels and focused on every detail,” Mavinga said. “I feel like it was a good 90 minutes. I know I have room to improve.”

    Mavinga’s return and road back to fitness come at a much-needed time as the club is running thin on center backs.

    Eriq Zavaleta (El Salvador) and Jalen Neal (U.S.) are away for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Sega Coulibaly has struggled with injuries and has appeared in only three games. And in Wednesday’s game, Martin Caceres was taken off on a stretcher after suffering what has been diagnosed as an avulsion fracture in his left knee, which could sideline him for the remainder of the season. He’s scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday.

    “He’s one of the most positive human beings I’ve ever come across in my life,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said of Caceres. “He’s got a positive mindset, he’s extremely disappointed because he knows the team is battling right now and to feel like he’s not going to be able to help the team in this stretch … he’s a team guy.

    “That’s what’s hurting him right now as much as the injury and his time off, is that he feels like he’s needed in the team and he won’t be able to help the team right now. He’s positive in his mind, he’s trusting the process and the doctors and his mindset is he’ll get through this.”

    Heading into Saturday’s road game against the Colorado Rapids (6:30 p.m., Apple TV+), the challenge for Vanney is finding a center back pair.

    “We have short-term challenges,” he said. “We’ll try to do a little bit of defending by committee and by numbers just by virtue of not having many true center backs. Chris (Mavinga) being the one true center back. Kelvin (Leerdam) has played some center back inside of three (man back), he’s trained as a center back inside of a four (man back). We have probably three to five games where we’re going to have to find good solutions inside our group.

    “The biggest thing is, we don’t have a lot of size in that true center back position. We’ll look inside the league and outside the league outside of that five-game stretch for ways to build upon our group. We have this stretch until the Leagues Cup break, we have some mechanisms to try to work inside of the league if the right opportunities exist to reinforce our group for the rest of the season and maybe beyond, and then after Aug. 3 (close of the summer transfer window) we can sign any players that are out of contract at that point.”

    That leads back to Mavinga, who is welcoming the extra workload and the direction the team is headed. He said getting back to fitness was the first challenge after missing a month earlier this season.

    “We’re three games unbeaten. We’ve played two tough games away, we played Kansas, they were in good form, we didn’t lose the game, Colorado is going to be a tough place, but we need to continue our form,” he said.


    The Galaxy said forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez underwent successful knee surgery Friday.

    In an Instagram post, Hernandez said: “Already home resting and ready to smash it all into recovery.”

    The team captain suffered a torn ACL in the team’s May 31 game at Real Salt Lake. He will miss the rest of the season.


    When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

    Where: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.

    How to watch: Apple TV+ (free)

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    ​ Orange County Register