The Galaxy left L.A. for Arizona on Sunday. When they return next week, they hope to be a different team.
A 10-day camp in Tempe will include three games against Major League Soccer opposition, advanced training sessions and a lot of get-to-know-you time for a team that's blending club veterans with rookies and new arrivals, and there are plenty of both.
“They're around each other all day, so they get to know each other a little bit better, build a little bit of a team spirit,” coach Bruce Arena said before departure. “In all honesty, that's what [Arizona] is.”
They're hardly the only team that thinks so. A dozen clubs will spent time in Arizona during the preseason, including eight of nine from the Western Conference. Six are currently training there.
Among them: Chivas USA, which is working out in Casa Grande, between Phoenix and Tucson. It's assistant coach Greg Vanney's old digs -- he ran the soccer operations, and Real Salt Lake's Arizona academy, at Grande Sports World before joining the Goats -- but that's not the only lure. Six clubs are using the 45-acre, six-field complex that's adjacent, niftily, to a golf resort.
The work is serious. This is where L.A. will begin in earnest its tactical preparation for the upcoming season while moving well beyond the basic ball work that has dominated early training sessions.
“I think we want to make a little bit more progress in Arizona than we [have] in the first couple of weeks [at Home Depot Center],” said Arena, whose team will play at Seattle in the March 15 league opener. “That's the time to take a step forward, and then, obviously, when we come back from Arizona, we have three weeks to get ready for the opening game.”
Said defender/assistant coach Gregg Berhalter: “The first week is fitness, then it's ballwork, then it's focusing on getting the first part of the game. And I think the Phoenix part is going to be concentrating on looking at some more of the details.”
GAMES IN PHOENIX: The Galaxy is training at Arizona State's soccer stadium -- all sessions are closed to spectators -- and have games scheduled there Wednesday against Colorado and Sunday against Vancouver. L.A. and Vancouver will meet again next Tuesday at the 18-field Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix.
Chivas USA lost its Casa Grande opener Saturday, a 1-0 decision against San Jose, and play Real Salt Lake on Tuesday and Vancouver on Friday.
SIGNED, SEALED ...: The Galaxy have finalized contracts with three of their remaining five draft choices and will do so with the other two once their International Transfer Certificates have arrived.
The club announced Monday that all five -- SuperDraft selections Paolo Cardozo and Hector Jimenez, and supplemental-draft picks Dan Keat, Ryan Thomas and Dustin McCarty -- signed before the team departed Sunday for a 10-day preseason training stint in Tempe, Ariz. Jimenez (Bell Gardens/Bell Gardens HS), from Cal, and Thomas (Claremont/Claremont HS), from Stanford, are local products.
Cardozo, a Uruguayan midfielder who left Argentine club Quilmes to join MLS, and Keat, a midfielder from Dartmouth who has played for New Zealand's youth national teams, require ITCs as foreign players.
All five figure to make the roster; L.A. is carrying only 28 players during preseason, and MLS teams may keep as many as 30 players this season.
The Galaxy's sixth draft choice, goalkeeper Zach Johnson, declined an invitation to the preseason camp.
ROBERTO CARLOS UPDATE: Those Brazilian reports linking legendary left back Roberto Carlos and the Galaxy? Forget them. The former Real Madrid star signed a two-year deal with Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala for a reported $13.4 million.