TORRANCE, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez lives in the here and now, but the LA Galaxy defender back admits that 2013 could be one of the most important years of his professional career.
Gonzalez was among the 25 players called-up by U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the annual January camp and subsequent friendly against Canada on Jan. 29 in Houston. But breaking into the U.S. squad promises to be just one of the many challenges on tap for Gonzalez in 2013 as he enters the final season of his contract with the Galaxy and MLS.
Whether Gonzalez will remain with the Galaxy or test himself on foreign shores remains a major question mark for both parties ahead of the 2013 season. With preseason weeks away, the reigning MLS Cup MVP admits that talks are ongoing with teams outside U.S., but it has not shaken his focus on the January camp.
“I think that there are, but I’m letting my agent handle that,” Gonzalez told a group of reporters in the team’s hotel. “My mind is focused here on this camp and that’s about it.
“I’m living in the now, and I’ve learned to not be thinking about those things because I can’t control them,” Gonzalez later added. “Once you start thinking about those things then your mind goes, and your game goes so I’m just excited for this camp.”
But that being said, Gonzalez expects to suit up for the Galaxy once next season rolls around.
“Yeah as of right now, I’m with the Galaxy. I love playing in L.A. and for the Galaxy,” said Gonzalez. “I love playing for Bruce [Arena], Tim Leiweke, and [Phillip] Anschutz.”
The LA Galaxy inked three players on Tuesday as the club re-signed pair of 2012 holdovers in midfielder Mike Magee and goalkeeper Brian Perk while signing Re-Entry Draft selection Colin Clark. Per league and club rules, the terms of the agreements were not announced.
Magee returns to the Galaxy after a banner 2012 that saw him score nine goals and five assists in 39 games across all competitions. Perk served as the club’s backup goalkeeper in 2012 while making seven appearances and will likely battle with Re-Entry Draft selection William Hesmer for the backup role behind Carlo Cudicini in 2013.
Meanwhile, Clark, a versatile midfielder who can play on either flank made 14 appearances for the Houston Dynamo during the 2012 regular season scoring a single goal.
The reporter cites multiple sources on both sides of the Atlantic including one within the LA Galaxy organization who admit that talks between Lampard and the Galaxy have occurred.
"It may happen as there have been discussions," The source told ESPN FC. "Nothing official yet, but the rumors are real."
On Monday, more than 40 MLS players and other prominent members of the U.S. Soccer community participated in "Soccer Night in Newtown" offering their own show of support for the citizens of Newtown, Conn. on the heels of tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December.
Nearly 1,500 Newtown residents attended in "Soccer Night in Newtown" , which was spearheaded by Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti allowing players to interact with a community that was deeply affected by December's tragedy.that Three members of the LA Galaxy traveled to Connecticut for the event as captain Landon Donovan, defender Sean Franklin and Rafael Garcia took part in the touching event.
"The opportunity to spend a few hours with the people of Newtown was something I'll never forget," said Donovan in a statement. "It was one of the best days of my life."
Garcia, himself, a father of a three-year-old son, was also touched by the experience.
“To have the opportunity to come to Newtown and meet so many great people and put smiles on the faces of these children is priceless," said Garcia. "I'm very glad I got the opportunity to be a part of this event. This is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.”
In an interview with MLSsoccer.com, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena stated that it is "not likely" that goalkeeper Josh Saunders will return to the LA Galaxy after turning down several contract offers "in the last year."
With Saunders on the way out, it seems likely that the starting goalkeeper role will fall to Carlo Cudicini who was signed last week. Arena told MLSsoccer.com, that he had kept tabs on Cudicini for a number of years and spoke to his goalkeeper during the 2002 World Cup, former U.S. international Brad Friedel about the impact that he could have in MLS.
“I think we have a tremendously experienced goalkeeper,” Arena told MLSsoccer.com. “He's extremely fit for his age. I don't have any concerns about that. I think he's got a lot of class. I think he's an outstanding goalkeeper, and he's going to be great with our backline and helping with the communication and organization.”
Cudicini will likely be one of four goalkeepers in preseason camp for the Galaxy as Arena confirmed during his interview that the club has come to an agreement with back-up Brian Perk while third goalkeeper Brian Rowe willl return to the club. Meanwhile, the LA Galaxy continue to hold the rights to veteran goalkeeper William Hesmer.
We're a little more than a week from the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and the draft class is continuing to grow.
MLS announced on Monday that it had signed Indiana's versatile forward/defender Eriq Zavaleta to a Generation Adidas contract. Zavaleta scored 18 goals in his sophomore season for the national champion Hoosiers after scoring an impressive 10 goals as a freshman. Although Zavaleta's scoring numbers are impressive, some scouts feel that the 6-foot-1 target forward is better suited for a central defender role in MLS. Zavaleta joins a Generation Adidas list Furman's Walker Zimmerman, Louisville's Andrew Farrell, North Carolina midfielder Mikey Lopez and Virginia Commonwealth forward Jason Johnson.
Zavaleta wasn't the only signing as MLS also inked five seniors in Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez, Boston College midfielder Kyle Bekker, Maryland midfielder John Stertzer and Notre Dame pair Ryan Finley and Dillon Powers.
*The Frank Lampard saga continues to turn as Lampard's agent Steve Kutner told The Guardian that the 34-year-old midfielder will "under no circumstances" sign a contract extension with Chelsea FC. Meanwhile, The British tabloid Daily Mail is looking to a far different source for Lampard's next destination, his fiancé who says that his choices are limited to "L.A.. or Italy."
*The Montreal Impact announced on Monday that Marco Schallibaum will be the club's head coach for Montreal's second season in MLS. The 50-year-old head coach is a veteran of the Swiss Super League, where he played for a decade before becoming a manager. Montreal parted ways with Jesse Marsch in November.
*Soccer By Ives is reporting that Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner will be dismissed by TFC with New Zealand International Ryan Nelsen taking the position. Earlier in the day, the Toronto Sun's Kurtis Larson confirmed that Nelsen will have a role with Toronto in 2013, but did not specify on his role. This news comes as TFC officially announced that Bob de Klerk will not return as the club's technical manager.
*Meanwhile, ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas has reported that Portuguese International Paulo Sousa is "a good bet" to become the new head coach of the New York Red Bulls.
*The Colorado Rapids officially announced the re-signing of Honduran midfielder Hendry Thomas.
*D.C. United confirmed that Andy Najar will go on a month-long loan to Belgian side Anderlecht.
*FIFA held their annual Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich on Monday and U.S. women's national team forward Abby Wambach was named Women's Player of the Year while former USWNT head coach Pia Sundhage was selected as Coach of the Year. Argentina and FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi was awarded the Men's Player of the Year for the fourth year in a row while Spain manager Vincete Del Bosque was awarded Coach of the Year. FIFA also unveiled the world First XI which was a strictly La Liga affair. The complete XI is below...
GK: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid).
DEF: Dani Alves (FC Barcelona), Gerard Pique (FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid).
MID: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (FC Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona.
ATT: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Falcao (Atlético Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).
Three LA Galaxy players took part in "Soccer Night in Newtown" on Monday in an event spearheaded by Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti as a way to help out those members of the Newton community who were deeply affected by the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementry in December.
LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, right back Sean Franklin and midfielder Rafael Garcia were among the dozens of MLS and former U.S. soccer players who took part in the event which allowed Newton residents to meet the soccer players and participate in small sided soccer games, among other activities.
"To be able to put smiles on the families and kids faces again in Newtown, it's truly special. This is a community that experienced a terrible tragedy, but for one day we get to help them turn away from that and focus on something fun and positive," Franklin said in a statement. "It makes me feel honored and privileged to be a part of impacting these lives."
We'll have more on their participation in the event after its conclusion.
Landon Donovan is still deciding his playing future and for that reason, it was no surprise that he was not called up to the U.S. national team's January camp roster ahead of a Jan. 29 friendly against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The U.S. national team boss announced his 25-man roster on Sunday, which included LA Galaxy defenders A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez, but Donovan was not included. Following LA's MLS Cup victory, Donovan told reporters that he was interested in taking some time this offseason to determine if he was still interested in continuing his storied playing career that includes 144 appearances for the U.S. and 49 goals.
Here is what Klinsmann said on Fox Soccer's Goals on Sunday about the LA Galaxy captain.
"Well, Landon has not been invited, because, obviously, he is taking his break. He is thinking about his future, " said Klinsmann. "And he is not at a point yet where he knows what he wants to do. So it is as simple as that. That is why we didn’t invite Landon. We are as curious as everybody else about what his decision will be in the future time, but right now he is not part of this camp."
What are your thoughts on this development?
It appears that the LA Galaxy will have three more seasons of Irish forward Robbie Keane.
In an interview with Sky Sports' Fantasy Football Show, the 32-year-old Ireland International stated that he has decided to extend his current MLS contract by signing a two year extension while also ruling out an offseason loan.
"It's been a long season, with the Euros and what have you so I've a few little niggles that need to be sorted out so I don't think at this moment in time it would be right for me to go anywhere," Keane said in the interview, video of which can be seen here. "I had another year left and they offered me a new contract at the end of last season so I've just signed a new two-year contract two days ago."
Based on Keane's comments, the Irish forward's contract would end at the end of the 2015 season when he would be 35-years-old. Keane is coming off a stellar 2012 that saw him score 23 goals and 10 assists in 37 games across all competitions.
During his interview on Sky Sports, Keane also revealed his best 11 players that he has ever played with. The list and Keane's rationalizations for his selections are quite interesting so be sure to take a look.
Before a knee injury felled him in late September, A.J. DeLaGarza was of the constants on the LA Galaxy in the starting XI and ahead of the 2013 campaign; he's hope for more of the same with the back-to-back MLS Cup champions.
During the 2012 MLS Regular Season, DeLaGarza racked up 30 appearances playing nearly exclusively at center back for the Galaxy before his knee injury on Sept. 30 effectively ended his season. In the seasons early months, DeLaGarza became LA’s back four leader with Omar Gonzalez out after undergoing knee surgery. Although he admits it wasn’t always easy, the 25-year-old emerged as a centerback despite playing alongside five different partners in central defense over the course of the season.
With such flux appearing unlikely next season due to health of Gonzalez and the emergence of rookie Tommy Meyer, DeLaGarza is preparing to step up again along the back line.
“I’m about to go into my fifth year right now and if I was in college, I’d be a senior and you’d be a leader,” DeLaGarza recently told LA Galaxy Insider. “With these guys, we have Landon, Robbie and on a back line standpoint, myself, Sean and Todd were in [the lineup] day in and day out with a few other guys. I just need to do better from the start, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish apparently. I think we’d take that start and take this finish, next year.”
With an eye toward next season, DeLaGarza’s lone goal for the offseason is to “stay healthy” ahead of a competitive 2013 preseason which will likely see DeLaGarza battle with Tommy Meyer for the starting spot next to Gonzalez.
That is not the only positional battle that is promised with the departure of David Beckham and continued questions surrounding Landon Donovan and Juninho among others. However, DeLaGarza is confident that LA can battle through any potential adversity—as they did in 2012.
“It happens every year, that’s not to say that some players won’t come back but it happens every year,” said DeLaGarza. “We know that we won’t have David…we don’t know about Landon and a couple of other players, but whoever we have out there will do a tremendous job as we try to win a championship.”