CARSON, Calif. -- There's a postseason atmosphere in the air around the LA Galaxy training ground these days.
As club looks to continue their ascent up the Western Conference standings ahead of the start of the MLS Cup Playoffs later this month, the Galaxy have begun to raise their level across the field. LA look to continue the drive to postseason this Saturday in a crucial match against Real Salt Lake, a team that the Galaxy would face in the Western Conference Semifinal if the playoffs began today. For the Galaxy to defeat RSL on Saturday, they'll need another big game from leading goal scorer forward Robbie Keane, who has scored an impressive 14 goals -- the fifth highest mark in MLS-- along with eight assists.
Keane, who scored a goal in the Western Conference Final against RSL last season admits that a postseason atmosphere has arrived at The Home Depot Center a bit earlier this year.
KEANE: "I think so yeah, if you look at the teams that we're playing they're the teams that we could get in the playoffs. It's going to be three tough games, we know that. They're good teams and we're going to get these out of the way and focus on the playoffs, but we're hoping to finish as high as we can."
(On Salt Lake...)
KEANE: "They're a good team and a tough team to play against. From now until hopefully the final, there's not going to be too many easy games. They're very, very good and a solid team. They've been scoring goals and scored quite a few goals against Chivas. We know that it's going to be difficult, but we're playing at home and we always fancy our chances when we're playing at home."
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may be able to call upon Swedish winger Christian Wilhelmsson for this Saturday’s clash against Real Salt Lake.
Last week, a strain in his left calf prevented him from appearing in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids, but the Swede told reporters on Thursday that he believes that he expects to be up for selection.
“I should be ready to be available this week at least,” said Wilhelmsson, who is still listed as questionable on the club’s injury report. “I’m optimistic.”
Wilhelmsson’s comments come after his first day of full training since sustaining an injury last week according to Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. The Galaxy boss said on Thursday that Wilhelmsson participated in just half a session on Wednesday and still needed to be evaluated ahead of Saturday’s game.
Although Wilhelmsson hopes to participate, the Swede, who has already scored one goal in two appearances with the Galaxy, is not looking to rush back and risk another injury.
“Every time that you’re injured or have some problems, you just want to get back as soon as possible, but you can not rush it or hurry because you could get injured again,” said Wilhelmsson. “You need to take care of what the body tells you and how fast that you can go with them.”
Steadily, the number of households that can view Time Warner Cable's newest sports networks is growing.
On Thursday, Time Warner reached a deal with Bright House Networks to carry both Time Warner Cable SportsNet and spanish language station Time Warner Cable Deportes.
“Our partners at Bright House Networks value Southern California sports as much as we do and we’re excited to work with them to bring Lakers, Galaxy and Sparks games and programming to our viewers,” said David Rone, President, Time Warner Cable Sports in a statement. “We’re extremely happy to work with Bright House Networks to bring sports fans in Southern California Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes.”
Bright House is the sixth largest owner and operator of cable systems in the U.S. and is one of the predominant cable operators in the Bakersfield, California area.
CARSON, Calif. -- Ahead of Saturday's clash against Real Salt Lake, reporters caught up with Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant.
Dunivant touched on a number of topics including RSL's attack, playing without A.J. DeLaGarza and LA's vital month of October.
Dunivant's thoughts are below...
“He’s tough to keep track of because he’s moving sometimes to the wing, sometimes up high and sometimes underneath and that’s when he’s at his best when he’s dribbling and making plays and being a distributor as well as a finisher. It causes a lot of headaches for defenses that’s for sure.”
(On RSL being a team of unsung heroes…)
DUNIVANT: “They’re a good team all around. Over the years, they’ve been very good defensively and part of that is just the way that they keep the ball and limiting the chances. Their midfield is the key to that. Will Johnson, Ned Grabavoy, Beckerman all those guys and Morales, it’s a very good midfield and it’s certainly key to their team.”
(On the role of Javier Morales to RSL’s midfield…)
DUNIVANT: “He can make the special play and he’s a wildcard because at any point, he can change the game. In playoffs in crucial times, those are the types of plays and players that you need and he’s been able to do that throughout the years. You’ve seen it in MLS, you’ve seen it in Champions League. He steps up when it counts.”
(On heading into October…)
DUNIVANT: “We’ve only got three games left [in league play] and it’s against three teams that we’re battling with playoff position so you can’t ask for anything more than that really. When it comes down to it, we have to win to get in, we control our destiny and that’s what you want. It’s certainly not easy, but you have it no other way . The way that we made up grown this season is by beating Western Conference teams and climbing up the table that way and now we have a chance again to play teams that are right there with us. For the second, third, and fourth spot.”
(On the postseason atmosphere of the last four games…)
DUNIVANT: “Absolutely, these games are going to be playoff intensity and these games matter. These games really matter and when you get down to these last couple then you know exactly what you need to do and that’s fun.”
(On LA being happy with their place in the standings heading into the last month…)
DUNIVANT: “We’ve set ourselves up well, but we’ve got to finish it off now. Like you said, three months ago, a lot of people didn’t think we could be in this position, but we always believed and we knew that we had a good team and we’ve stuck together and the club has stuck by us and we’ve rewarded that with some good results.”
(On playing without DeLaGarza…)
DUNIVANT: “It’s tough to lose A.J. at this stage, but you have to deal with those things and it’s certainly not easy and guys are going to have to step up and the whole team is going to have to step up.”
(On the role the comeback victory to RSL played in LA’s comeback this summer…)
DUNIVANT: “That was right when we started putting results together….we needed wins and we needed them fast and we started to put those on and suddenly we were eight points out of the playoffs at that point and for 3-8-2, that’s not that bad. Suddenly we win those games and we’re two points out of the playoffs and it’s a whole different ballgame with 20 games to go.”
(On chemistry concerns among the back four without DeLaGarza…)
DUNIVANT: “We haven’t had this where A.J. has been out. He’s been real reliable for us when he’s been in there and we’ve been working this weekend in practice in getting things right so certainly , it’s not going to be easy without him, he’s a huge part of our defense so we’re going to have to not use it as an excuse and just plow forward.”
(On Meyer being a different type of defender than DeLaGarza…)
DUNIVANT: “It’s going to be on us, so only time is going to tell. We’ve got to have baptism by fire in these last three games and we have confidence in Tommy or whoever goes in there and if we continue to play well as a group and we continue to play as we have a team then we’re going to continue to get shutouts, we’re going to continue to get results. It hasn’t just been the starting four that has gotten results, it’s been the other group as well in Reserve games and Champions League games so as a team we’ve improved well defensively and we need to keep that going if we want to win the championship. “
As promised, LAGalaxy.com has provided a behind the scenes look at Monday night's launch of Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes. Check out the video below...
*Also at 3:30pm PDT, I'll be on Galaxy Revealed. TWCSN's newest 30 minute show dedicated to the Galaxy.
A few notes and links to start your Wednesday morning.
*The LA Galaxy train at 10 am this morning and I expect to have some updates on the status of Swedish winger Christian Wilhelmsson, who is listed as questionable for Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake
*A story that I missed last week that is still worth telling...Brian Straus of the Sporting News wrote this piece on LA's turnaround focusing on the impact of Omar Gonzalez.
One fun link for you this morning is the new American Soccer Now website by John Godfrey. The longtime New York Times writer has compiled a list of the top 100 American soccer players -- which features six Galaxy players -- and offers a few introspective Q&A's with a pair of Galaxy players Edson Buddle and A.J. DeLaGarza.
And then there were two.
With Vancouver Whitecaps FC's 4-0 victory over Chivas USA--which featured a little Gangnam Style courtesy of Camilo-- there are just two teams left in contention for the final MLS Cup Playoff berth in the Western Conference.
The victory eliminated Chivas, the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers from playoff contention. With 32 games played, Vancouver is five points ahead of FC Dallas, who have played one fewer game than their Western rival for the fifth and final playoff spot. The Whitecaps sit seven points adrift of the fourth place Seattle Sounders, who Vancouver would face if the playoffs began today.
The LA Galaxy had a special visitor at training on Tuesday, the Stanley Cup Trophy.
The trophy was at training due to a season ticket event for the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The trophy came out towards the end of practice and numerous players able to take their photo with one of professional sports most storied prizes.
More photos courtesy of Evan Gole / Bernstein Associates below
Coaches and players inspect the Stanley Cup and read the names engraved on the trophy.
Donovan taking part in a Stanley Cup superstition. If you touch it, you'll never win it.
A Team Photo with the Cup
If you've been following along on Twitter today, you'd know it's been a busy day for me.
I'll be making an appearance on Time Warner SportsNet's Access: SportsNet show tonight at 7pm and 10pm talking about the LA Galaxy. Also, I'll be on Galaxy Revealed with Chris McGee on Thursday and Friday talking about LA's latest turnaround.
Never one not to poke fun at myself, below is a photo of me in the makeup chair snapped by an intrepid Galaxy staffer earlier today.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) October 4, 2012
CARSON, Calif. -- A.J. DeLaGarza is listed as out with a left knee sprain in the LA Galaxy's injury report that was released on Monday evening.
The club preliminarily diagnosed DeLaGarza's injury as a left knee sprain during the club's 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids, but DeLaGarza revealed during his red carpet appearance at the Time Warner Cable SportsNet launch event that it was an MCL injury. The Galaxy defender told reporters that he expects miss a month, which would rule him out for the duration of the regular season, but admitted that he is hopeful that he can return in time for the playoffs.
DeLaGarza wasn't the only name of note as Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson was listed as questionable with a left calf strain. The very same strain that prevented Wilhelmsson from appearing in last week's tie in Colorado.
The complete Galaxy injury report is below.
OUT: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain); DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (L ankle sprain); MF Christian Wilhelmsson (L calf strain)