CARSON, Calif. -- We're just several hours away from the final Superclásico of the year and here are a few links to get you to kick off.
Read Larry Morgan's game preview of the Superclásico, focusing on bouncing back from last week's defeat to the Seattle Sounders
Meanwhile, Scott French discusses the impact that new Chivas USA midfielder Shalrie Joseph will have on the match.
Lastly, once the game begins, follow the action along with me on MLSsoccer.com's live chat and also, I'll be answering one select question from the Galaxy's Facebook page tonight so leave your comments and questions there.
PREDICTED LINEUP: Saunders; Franklin, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Dunivant; Jimenez, Juninho, Sarvas, Magee; Donovan, Keane
LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan has been called up to the United States national team roster for next Wednesday's friendly against Mexico.
Donovan was named to the U.S. travel roster on Sunday by national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the USMNT's August 15th friendly against El Tri at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Due to his call up, Donovan will miss Wednesday's league match against the Columbus Crew.
Wednesday's friendly against Mexico will be an precursor for Donovan and the U.S. as they prepare to resume World Cup Qualifying, which ramps up this fall starting with a September 7th match against Jamaica in Kingston.
CARSON, Calif. -- In the wake of last week's disappointing 4-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders, LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders knows that the club's defense must change for LA to pick up an important victory in Sunday's Superclásico against Chivas USA.
There has been considerable talk this week -- and numerous articles written by yours truly and others -- on a potential return of the back four of Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant, a quartet that along with Saunders, helped anchor the Galaxy to the 2011 MLS Cup Championship. While Saunders would welcome their group's return, he believes that it is far more important for the club's defensive mentality to change rather than simply the personnel.
"It's always welcome to see something like that because we know it works, but it's more than just a back four, it's a collective unit that has to defend. You put a lot on the back, but in the end, it's everybody defending."
A Good Superclásico Morning to everyone out there,
For those looking for some early morning reading before you head out to The Home Depot Center, check out my Three Points to the SuperClasico.
A note from last night's MLS results:With the Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes picking up victories over Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders respectively, the LA Galaxy now sit four points behind fourth place Vancouver ahead of tonight's match.
I'll have a few more updates as we get closer to the 8pm PST kick off.
CARSON, Calif. – The mood surrounding American soccer circles in the wake of Mexico’s 2-1 Olympic gold medal winning victory over Brazil on Saturday ranged from anguish to jubilation, frustration to anger, but for two members of the LA Galaxy, the match provided only motivation.
Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens was on the U.S. Under-23 squad that defeated the Mexican U-23s in March -- a team that contained many of the same players that went on to win the gold medal for Mexico -- as well as the roster for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games. After a fast start to Olympic qualifying, a pair of disappointing results ultimately led to the Americans ouster from Olympic contention.
While the sting of missing out on the Olympics has long since passed for Stephens, the 23-year-old midfielder admits that watching Mexico win gold has provided motivation for himself and the rest of U.S. Soccer.
“Absolutely, if you watch those teams, those are really good teams. It’s true that the U.S. is always competing with and those [Olympic players] are the guys that are going to coming onto the full team so it’s a wake-up call to the U.S. for sure,” said Stephens after Galaxy training on Saturday. “I think that anyone that and see players that are in the same age bracket as that and see players that are the same age as them, they’re always going to want to get better and get to that level. I’m no different.”
Stephens’ dream of the Olympics may never come true, but for his teammate forward Jack McBean, the dream is just beginning.
Having spent considerable time in the U.S. youth set up at the Under-17 and Under-20 levels, the 17-year-old may play a role for the Americans as they look to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Qualification for that tournament is not for another four years—when McBean will be 21— but the young forward is already thinking about helping the U.S. qualify for the Olympics.
“I know that [players born in 1994; like McBean] are the next oldest cycle for the Olympics and to be on that team would be a big honor,” McBean said Saturday. “It is motivation to feel that atmosphere and see the stadium filled with fans. It’d be really cool to play in.”
Although Mexico is providing a stiff test for the Americans and the rest of CONCACAF, the young McBean is optimistic that the U.S. can catch up to their archrivals.
“[Mexico] is just getting better and better. They’re doing all the things right. And obviously, they won the U-17s and finished third in the U-20s so they’ve been at the top of all the recent youth tournaments,” admitted McBean. “But we’re not far off so we just have to keep working hard and we’ll be up there…It is slowly getting better, but it’s definitely coming up.”
Magee is likely to play an important role for the Galaxy attack on Sunday as he is expected to step into David Beckham's space in the midfield. With Beckham fulfilling his Olympic obligations on Sunday, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is expected to look to utilize Magee's speed on the flanks to help LA against Chivas USA's tenacious midfielders. Magee is well-aware that this will be no easy task as Chivas' high intensity midfield will be bolstered by the acquisition of midfielder Shalrie Joseph and the return of Oswaldo Minda from a shoulder injury.
"It's hard, they obviously like to load the middle of the field and they had a great midfield before and now getting Shalrie and Minda back from injury is obviously huge for them. We need to be extremely disciplined and match their intensity."
(On controlling the midfield...)
MAGEE: "That's huge in all our games, the times that we have the most success is when we have control of the midfield and are passing the ball well while keeping possession, especially in the final third. This game is obviously magnified a bit more because of how good their midfield is so we definitely need to do well."
(On the playoff chase...)
MAGEE: "It's a lot closer than people think, four games in hand is a lot and this is a massive game always and if you look at the standings, they're confident as well so this game could shake things up for the playoffs."
CARSON, Calif -- The SuperClásico is always a heated affair, but with LA Galaxy and Chivas USA fighting for a berth in the postseason, even more fuel has been added to the fire.
Currently, the Galaxy are in fifth place in the Western Conference with a seven point lead on sixth-place Chivas, but the Rojiblancos hold four games in hand on LA. With a victory on Sunday, the Galaxy could move ten points clear of their cross-hall rivals, but a defeat would push Chivas to within four points of the Galaxy with four fewer games played.
Below are Landon Donovan's thoughts from Friday's press conference as well as a video preview of the SuperClásico...
(On what it would mean to win the SuperClásico...)
DONOVAN: "We take a lot of pride in this rivalry, but I think more importantly, probably for both teams at this point, is these could end up being the last two teams that fight for a playoff spot. So that's where our focus is, and we know three points on Sunday would put us a lot closer to that goal and, conversely, Chivas could close the gap with still a lot of games in hand, so it makes this game as important as any."
(On the importance of the rivalry to the city of Los Angeles...)
DONOVAN: "I grew up here so I’m familiar with all the sports rivalries and I know that Angelinos take these things very seriously. It’s important for the fans and myself being a fan of other sports in this area that I understand the passion that’s involved in this."
(On whether or not the SuperClásico is just another game once the whistle blows...)
DONOVAN: “I think there is just probably a little more emotion involved, a little more passion involved. It doesn’t mean your going to be blatantly trying to kick someone or to hurt someone, but it has a little more meaning. In this game, there a lot of games, a lot of games in the summer months, where from time to time you get to a game and by the end of the game you think, ‘God I wasn’t fully into that game,’ because its been a long summer and this, that or the other, but in this game you know that everybody on both sides are going to come prepared and really fully alert and ready for it, and that’s where the difference is.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan is well aware that when the LA Galaxy take on Chivas USA on Sunday, the Rojiblancos will be a far improved side from the one that LA defeated in late-July.
Much of that improvement stems from Chivas' recent acquisition of tenacious midfielder Shalrie Joseph from the New England Revolution on August 1st. Long considered -- alongside Donovan -- to be one of MLS' finest players over the last decade, Joseph is expected to make his Chivas debut during Sunday's SuperClásico. With Joseph most-likely attempting to ignite a recently stagnant Chivas attack, Donovan admits that his teammates must be cognizant of the midfielder on Sunday.
"He is my opinion has been one of the best probably 10 or 15 players in this league for a long time now, and we fully expect him to play, to start. How they use him, we're not quite sure, and maybe they're still finding out, too. But he's an influential player and a good leader ... I think he's going to give an influence on their team in a very positive way.So he's someone that we have to be aware of."
CARSON, Calif. -- Last week's defeat to the Seattle Sounders left a bitter taste in LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane's mouth; one that he hopes to remove with a good performance in Sunday's SuperClásico against Chivas USA.
After scoring either a goal or an assist in five of the Galaxy's last six matches, Keane was unable to break through during the club's defeat against the Sounders last Sunday. The Irish forward will look to regain his scoring touch on Sunday against a Rojiblancos' defense has allowed just 21 goals this season, the second lowest total in MLS. Keane has enjoyed some success against Chivas, however, as he scored a goal and an assist during the last meeting between the two clubs on July 21st.
Below are Keane's thoughts from training on Friday...
(On erasing the sting from the Seattle loss...)
KEANE: “Of course, it’s always important to bounce back when you get a bad defeat which obviously we did last week so it’s important that we bounce back and it’s always good to bounce back against your rival so it’s a game that I know the lads are looking forward to, getting back on the field and eradicating the mistakes and the way we played last week.”
(On a victory in the SuperClásico putting distance between the Galaxy and other teams in the playoff hunt…)
KEANE: “Yeah, I think that’s important as well. We’re coming to the end [of the season] with ten games or so. It’s important that we create that gap and once you do that, you sort of guarantee the playoffs and then you never know what could happen. We could go on a good run again, which we hope that we can do so that’s what we’re looking for.”
(On thinking about playoff positioning after spending most of his career in Europe…)
KEANE: “It’s like the Champions League isn’t it? Getting that third spot. I think that it’s the same thing and of course, you have to have a goal, you know? Obviously our goal is to get into the playoffs. I think that it would be a tragedy if we didn’t do that. I think once we get a couple of results and we make a stand and we know that we’re in the playoffs then who knows what could happen? We could go on a good run and we want to finish as high as possible and that starts on Sunday against Chivas.”
CARSON, Calif. -- One question has circulated throughout the LA Galaxy camp this week: Could the the back four that led the LA Galaxy to the 2011 MLS Cup make an appearance for this Sunday's SuperClásico against Chivas USA?
With injury concerns seemingly a thing of the past, the quartet of Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant, a group that lined up together 17 times last season -- including the 2011 MLS Cup Final -- could play together again starting this Sunday.
Read my story on the possibility of the back four of Franklin, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez and Dunivant teaming up again this Sunday and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.