Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. – The Los Angeles Galaxy may boast a star-studded lineup, but it's who is not going to be on the field that may prove the difference for the Galaxy come MLS Cup.
The Galaxy will need to replace forward Chad Barrett, who was ruled out of Sunday's MLS Cup Final due a dislocated right ankle. The prospect of dealing with injuries is not a new one to the Galaxy, who have repeatedly called upon their bench to lead them in important matches.
The most likely option is Adam Cristman, who was a starter prior to Barrett's late season resurgence. The burly 6-foot forward enjoyed a productive season for the Galaxy appearing in 11 league matches and five in the CONCACAF Champions League scoring two goals in all competitions. Cristman did not appear for the Galaxy until late summer after returning from a knee injury that had him on the disabled list until May.
“It's unfortunate that Chad is not available for this game, but our season has been this. When we need to replace a player, the next guy steps up and gets the job done,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “We have plenty of options and haven't made a decision yet, but I think that we'll have a good choice.”
Known for his hardwork and physical play, Cristman believes that he can help contribute to the Galaxy on Sunday.
“I have to do the things that allow me to be the player that I am and help out the team, the best that I can,” said Cristman. “I think that this game could lend to me being a good potential player against their big backs. It suits my style of play, but we'll see how it goes and ultimately I just need to do what I do.”
Vital to Cristman's potential inclusion will be his chemistry with star forward Robbie Keane. Cristman and Keane have experience playing alongside one another in important matches. The most significant being the Galaxy's August Champions League fixture in Morelia. Cristman earned the start in Mexico and appearing to compliment Keane's speed well with his physical play.
“The few games that we play together, I feel good playing with him,” Cristman said of Keane. “He's a talented guy and loves to around the goal. if I can be out there and take pressure off of him and fight for balls and give him some space to work against their backs then that's the best for him and he'll get his chances to score.”
While it remains to be seen if Cristman is Arena's choice alongside Keane come Sunday, the burly forward is ready to play if called upon.
“Obviously, I want to play and I'm ready and I'm focusing on being on the field,” said Cristman. “Regardless of if its a biggest game, it's just a game on Sunday and for us, we approach it like we're going to win that game. We've done that all year and we all have to be ready.”