adam serrano

12 November 11:37 am

CARSON, Calif. – David Beckham may not have been his normally sharp self on his set pieces, but he did provide a valuable punch as the LA Galaxy counterattack overwhelmed Seattle Sounders FC to a 3-0 victory in the Western Conference Championship First Leg on Sunday.

Throughout his 90 minute performance, Beckham went toe-to-toe with Seattle’s midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans, in what proved to be a cagey match early on. Beckham was at his best in the 64th minute as he started a counter by playing a ball forward to Robbie Keane. The Irishman then launched the ball wide right to Sean Franklin, whose cross found Mike Magee, who easily beat Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning for LA’s second goal.

Beckham still has one caution heading into the second leg, but the midfielder can only be suspended for the MLS Cup Final if he is given a red card at CenturyLink Field.

Below Beckham discusses the start to the series, injuries and other topics….

BECKHAM: “I think we set the standards before the game that we needed to achieve. We started the game OK, I think we came into the game later into the first half. It’s always great to get a goal just before halftime, and it’s always hard conceding a goal at halftime. They’re a very good team, so we knew that they was going to create chances, we just needed to be strong on defense. Josh was great again tonight. We always create chances, it was great that we put them away. But this is far from over, Seattle’s always been a tough place to go and win games and play at, their fans will be right behind them. But we have obviously put ourselves in good position, but we know that it’s far from over.”

(On whether Seattle opened up in the second half…)

BECKHAM: "I think that always happens when you’re chasing the game and when you’re down a goal or two, the game opens up. The other team has to take a few more chances, and luckily for us it opened up. We could have had one or two more than we actually got, but we’d have taken 3-0 at the start of the game.”

(On if he has an eye on the Eastern conference series…)

BECKHAM: “I’ve got a little bit of an eye on that side of things, but we need to concentrate on what we’re doing. That’s the important part, and then everything can fall into place hopefully.”

(On how LA could host the final if Houston wins…)

BECKHAM: “We’re not even thinking about that yet. We may have put ourselves in a great position tonight, but last time we played in Seattle we got beat 4-0, well second to last time we played there, so we know that they can score goals there, we know they’re dangerous there, we just have to do our job.”

(On the Galaxy’s play in the last two games…)

BECKHAM: “I think our movement has changed. Before the San Jose game away, our movement and our fitness maybe wasn’t as good, but I think we’ve picked it up. We’ve realized that if we want to go all the way in this competition we have to pick it up. The standards had to be higher, and I think that we’ve brought our standards higher, and we need to keep them there.”

(On what ways the team’s movement changed...)

BECKHAM: “I just think everyone. When you play quite a few games in a short space of time, you become a little bit stale and a little bit tired and I think that we had that in the first game against San Jose. We’d come off a tough game against Vancouver, scraped through in that one, and then coming up against a San Jose team that was very strong. But I think we recovered a lot better than them. I said it the day after the game, we recovered a lot better than we did for the first San Jose game. So leading into the second one, we were ready, and we were ready to play. Our confidence was up and it showed it in the game, and it showed in this game as well.”

(On whether Bernárdez’s goal in first SJ game was a wakeup call...)

BECKHAM:  “Maybe. Maybe just the loss, not just the goal. The loss at home and the realization that we had to go there and win. Sometimes that can help a team. I think that probably did help us. We needed a kick up the backside and probably that was it.”

(On the injuries being worrisome…)

BECKHAM: “No, I think we’ve got a great medical staff here, so they’ll do everything possible to get everyone of the players and any knocks that we’ve got, ready. But we’ve had that most of the season, and we’ve had players that have stepped in. Edson played a great game in San Jose, for 60 minutes, and then obviously came off and missed tonight but hopefully he’ll be ready for next week. If he’s not, then we’ve got players that will step in and do the job. But we can’t worry about injuries too much, at this stage of the season, players are going to pick up niggles, players are going to pick up injuries, it’s just about coming together as a squad. We did it last year, and we saw what happened last year. So we need to do it again.”

12 November 10:55 am

Before we delve further into Western Conference Championship First Leg match, U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has announced his 20-man roster for the U.S. friendly with Russia on Nov. 18. 

The U.S. take on Russia in Krasnodar at 8 a.m. PT in Kuban Stadium on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Univision

As expected no players currently participating in the MLS Cup Playoffs were called up to the squad.

Klinsmann's complete roster is below...

GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (6): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Joshua Gatt (Molde), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)

FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna)

12 November 12:47 am

CARSON, Calif. -- Below are Bruce Arena's postgame thoughts from Sunday night's 3-0 Western Conference Championshp victory over Seattle Sounders FC

ARENA: "We played very well tonight against an excellent team. We're not foolish enough to believe that this thing is over. The game in Seattle on Sunday is going to be a real difficult game. We have to have our team ready to play."

(On Christian Wilhelmsson’s play…)

ARENA: “Christian played very well tonight. The combination play between him and Beckham, Donovan, Keane, and Magee was excellent. They had a good night and they were dangerous, obviously. The goal at the end of the [first] half was certainly huge and made a big difference. Seattle pressed to get a goal, opened things up and gave some talented players a little bit of room to help us get the second and third goals.”

(On Mike Magee and Robbie Keane…)

ARENA: “hey were excellent. As I said I think the whole group tonight, this was one of those nights where every player was on form, and did an outstanding job.”

(On LA’s form over 180 minutes…)

ARENA: “90 minutes, [San Jose] doesn't count. If we could count the last 90 that would really help, but it doesn't. We have another difficult 90 ahead of us. It's going to be challenging. Yes, the 90 in San Jose was good, but tonight was more complete. We were sloppy in the last fifteen minutes in San Jose, tonight was better so that's encouraging.”

(On the secret for LA’s play…)

ARENA: “There's never any secrets, to be honest with you. I'd like to tell you we have a lot of them and we pulled them out for this; but just playing well, scoring goals, and being a lot more solid defensively. Just overall, we're playing better.”

(On not getting a fourth goal…)

ARENA:  “I certainly would have loved to have a fourth. Can't have everything in life, you know. It certainly makes it more challenging for next Sunday.”

 (On the biggest challenge in second leg…)

BA: There won't be any complacency. The challenge is Seattle. They're a very good team, that's going to be our challenge.

 (On getting the first goal…)

ARENA: “It was [crucial]. It was probably the difference in the game. It was huge.”

(On the first leg being at home…)

ARENA: “Sounds like you answered your question. How could you conclude after what you just said that it's not good. When I get fired, I'm definitely going to become a journalist. Sure sounds that way. I'll go back in the lab and try to figure it out, but it sounds pretty good. Without away goals it kind of neutralizes things a little bit, however, certainly the team in the second leg, that gets the extra thirty minutes, it's certainly to their advantage.”

(On comparing 2012 to 2011…)

ARENA: “I have no idea. I can't remember that far back, to be honest with you. I think maybe some of our guys were thinking about that up until June this year. It's a whole different season, it's a different team and a different set of circumstances so I can't compare one to the other. It's not fair and I don't think it makes sense. Every year is different and unique.”

(On Robbie Keane…)

ARENA: “I’ve said it a number of times, I think he's been simply outstanding since his return from the European Championships. One can argue that he's been the best player in the league, and unbelievably important for our team. He's been healthy, and been in just about every game since he returned. He's simply been outstanding. He’s been great.”

(On the circumstances of Wilhelmsson’s start…)

ARENA: “Due to Buddle not being available.”

(On the older players serving as leaders for younger players…)

ARENA: “I think if Keane, Beckham, and Donovan are right, and even Omar in the case of Tommy Meyer, they're outstanding role models for those guys and examples. When they're focused and their minds are right, they're great examples for any of our young players to look at and learn from and help them develop. I would say they're vitally important to the development of the young players.”

(On thinking about hosting Cup?)

ARENA:  “I'm thinking about seeing if we can get past Seattle on Sunday. If we made it to the MLS Cup, I'd be happy to be playing anywhere, whether it’s home or away. I think that would be a great accomplishment. I'm well aware of the fact that it's not going to be easy to get there. We’re going to work hard this week and try to have our team ready for a difficult game on Sunday.”

12 November 12:13 am

CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan told reporters after the LA Galaxy's 3-0 victory in the Western Conference Championship First Leg over Seattle Sounders FC that he suffered a tightening in his hamstring that ultimately led to his subsitution from the match. 

Donovan was electric during his 84th minute period on the field, notching an assist on Robbie Keane's goal in the first half while repeatedly combining with the Irishman and midfielder Mike Magee in the attack. However, in the 84th minute, Donovan was subbed out of the match, apparently favoring his right leg, due to what was announced by Galaxy PR staff and head coach Bruce Arena as cramping. However, following the match, Donovan elborated more on the knock. 

"I felt my hamstring tighten up a little bit, so we'll see, go in tomorrow and look at it," said Donovan, who admitted that he was not feeling one way or another with the injury. " I just took off to run and felt it grab a little bit. I wanted to be safe and get out of there." 

11 November 11:49 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The goals just keep on coming for Robbie Keane in the postseason, and suits the Irish forward just fine. 

Keane tallied two more goals in Saturday's 3-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in the Western Conference Championship First Leg at The Home Depot Center. To put Keane's success in perspective, he has now scored as many goals in the last 180 minutes -- four -- than Sounders FC have scored in their last 840 ---  their entire postseason history -- minutes. Keane also etched his name in the Galaxy's history books as his goal in the first half was the 100th postseason goal in LA franchise history. 

Below Keane discusses his play on Sunday night...

(On whether two goal games were becoming routine for him…)

KEANE: “Hopefully they can continue as long as the team keeps winning, but whether I score or anybody else, it doesn’t really matter as long as the lads are performing and that’s what we’re doing at the moment.”

(On first goal being a heartbreaker for Seattle…)

KEANE: “I think it was, it was important that we kept our patience and that certainly was the case. We knew that it was going to be difficult and they were going to defend well and they did that. I think the goal just before halftime was a big boost for us and obviously killed them a little bit.”

(On a potential rematch of 2011 MLS Cup Final at HDC…)

KEANE: “Yeah, we can’t get too carried away with that ourselves. It’s important that we got good win tonight, but the job is only half done. If the lads think for one second that this is over, they may think again because as we know in football, it’s a funny ol’ game and anything can happen. We’ll enjoy tonight and enjoy the win, but as soon as we’re back in the training pitch, our focus is on next Sunday.”

(On how LA keeps their focus…)

KEANE: “Easy, if people do get carried away that’s silly because anything can happen as I said. It’s up to the lads and the senior players who have a lot more experience than the other guys to make sure that they know that this is by no means over.”

(On the combination play between LA’s forwards…)

KEANE: “We had a few good 1-2s. We had a few good opportunities that could have been great goals, but it wasn’t to be. Good defending from them, but listen, we’ll take three goals any day. It was important that we kept the momentum going after Wednesday’s game. Was it Wednesday’s game? Thursday? It feels like we’ve been playing every day. It was important that we kept that momentum going and we did that.”

 (On Seattle dropping their heads after the first goal…)

KEANE: “I think when you score the first goal especially just before halftime; it’s always a little bit of a killer. Maybe in the second half, we sensed that maybe a small bit. So it was up to us to jump on top of that. We certainly did that.”

 (On the reason for LA’s success over the last two games…)

KEANE: “I don’t know really, it’s really hard to put my finger on it. The last few months really, just the way that we’ve been playing and the manner that we’ve been playing against teams, the quick movement and quick counterattack and transition has been very good. We know that we have clever players that can cause any team problems so that’s been the case. And patience, if we keep the ball moving quickly, we’re a very hard team to play against.”

(On Seattle taking risks after going down a goal…)

KEANE: “They usually have to don’t they? It’s one of those situations where they just try and stay and try and keep it 1-0 or have a little go. They obviously had a little go, they brought Johnson on up front so he’s a tough one isn’t he? We scored when they had their shape, their 4-5-1 if you like and so for 44 minutes it worked for him, but lucky enough, we got the first goal and as soon as we got the first goal, we kind of naturally, the game opens up a little bit because they try and get a goal.”

11 November 9:07 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- A few notes from the LA Galaxy's 3-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday night in the Western Conference Championship First Leg at The Home Depot Center.

*Last time LA won by more than three goals was the 2002 MLS semifinals when LA defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-0 in Game 1 on Oct. 5

*16 players have played for the Galaxy this postseason, but only three players have scored (Mike Magee, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane)

*Robbie Keane's first goal of the night was the 100th goal in LA Galaxy franchise history. With the effort, LA now have 102 goals in the postseason, the most in MLS history. Second place is D.C. United with 62. 

*Keane now has four goals this postseason in four matches. 

*Keane is the first player to score multiple goals in consecutive games since Carlos Ruiz in 2002 (Two vs. Kansas City Wizards on Oct. 2 in MLS Conference Semifinals and two vs. Rapids in MLS Semifinals)

*Wilhelmsson and Franklin were incredibly dangerous on the right side, accounting for three assists for the Galaxy on the night -- two for Franklin and one for Wilhelmsson.

*Wilhelmsson's assist was the first of his MLS career.

*Donovan was forced to exit the game late in the second half due to a hamstring tightness.

*Sean Franklin had no assists in his first 12 postseason games and now has 3 in his last two games.

*Josh Saunders' earned his third postseason shutout. Tying him with Donovan Ricketts for second most in club history. 

*The attendance was announced as 27,000 -- a sellout.

*All players with yellow cards can not be suspended for MLS Cup if they are booked int he second leg. 

*Jose Villarreal made his postseason debut

*The Second Leg will take place at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington on Sunday November, 18. 

11 November 2:08 pm

CARSON, Calif. – On Saturday, reporters caught up with LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan to discuss his feelings and thoughts heading into Sunday’s Western Conference Championship match against Seattle Sounders FC.

Donovan discusses a wide range of topics including Mike Magee, LA’s prior success against Seattle and a number of other issues below.

(On Mike Magee…)

DONOVAN: “There are certain players this time of year that play at a different level and Mike is one of them. When you have players like that on your team, it gives you a better chance to win. I say it all the time that this time of year, especially, you need guys that can make special plays on both sides of the field and Mike gives us another option end of the field, teams are clued in on a few of us then he’s a guy that they have to worry about. When they forget about him, he makes them pay.”

(On what exactly makes Magee special…)

DONOVAN: “Technically, Mike and Robbie are our two best finishers and our two best strikers of the ball, so when he gets a chance, he’s lethal. What he does well on top of that is that he puts himself in good positions. A lot of us understandably draw some attention and he gets a chance to get open and make a play, he makes plays and that’s what makes him dangerous.”

(On Robbie Keane…)

DONOVAN: “Robbie is the beneficiary of a couple of things—one, we’re playing a lot better and two, he’s getting in great spots and when he’s getting chances, he’s burying them. He’s probably scored 20 goals this year in all the competitions; he’s been unlucky on a number of other ones. He could have 30 goals at least this year. He makes our job really easy, he always wants the ball, he puts himself in dangerous spots and if we do our job and get him the ball then he’s going to score more often than not.”

(On what it will take to beat Seattle…)

DONOVAN: “Well, Seattle hasn’t given up many goals as of late and so I think that the first thing that stands out about them is that defensively, they’re very, very good. In my opinion, along with us, they’ve been the best team over the last stretch of the season. They have Eddie [Johnson] playing well, [Mauro] Rosales is playing well, Brad Evans is playing well, and obviously, their goal the other night by [Mario] Martinez was special. They’ve got a lot of special players on their team, and [Fredy] Montero is always dangerous, so they create a number of problems. And when their backline and goalkeeper are playing that way then they’re going to be hard to beat.”

(On what Seattle does well defensively…)

DONOVAN: “Well, they have continuity first of all. All of us in this league think that having a back four and one or two midfielders that play all the time and a goalie that plays all the time produces results. I think Jeff Parke has been one of the best defenders in the league this year, [Jhon Kennedy] Hurtado is solid, [Adam] Johansson has been good. But the key to their team I think in any circumstance is Alonso. He’s a guy that I’m sure when Sigi puts his lineup every time; he knows what he’s getting out of that guy. He’s very good and he’s very influential and he’s going to be a very big part of their team over the next two games.”

(On defensive continuity with Tommy Meyer playing in place of A.J. DeLaGarza…)

DONOVAN: “We’re very blessed that we have, really, three head coaches on this team in Dave [Sarachan], Curt [Onalfo], and Bruce [Arena]. They’ve done a good job with not only Tommy, but all the guys who have played a bunch of reserve games and they were able to put out the reserve team in three of the four Champions League games and still advance the way that we did. We’ve been able to do that with the help of our coaching staff and Tommy has just grown, he’s grown from the beginning of the year till now and I think that he really grew up the other day in the San Jose game. That was a real soccer game with real pressure and real circumstance, and I think that he passed with flying colors. We need similar performances against arguably two of the most dangerous forwards in the league together.”

(On setting the tone in the first leg…)

DONOVAN: “As we learned in the last series, it’s a 180 minutes, potentially more so we’re not going to get too caught up in what happens after the first game whether it’s good or bad. We want to play well and we want to use our advantages well, we think that if we play well, we have a good chance to win this game. We’re also very comfortable going on the road in getting results, no matter the environment and we’ve proved that over the years.”

(On LA having a psychological advantage over Seattle due to success in important matches…)

DONOVAN: “Well, not this year, I think that they turned the corner this year and they beat us very handily twice in Seattle and in the game here, they could argue that they could have won that or should have won that game too. They’ve played us very tough this year and we expect the same in this series.”

(On the Galaxy’s confidence right now…)

DONOVAN: “We’re all feeling very confident right now and we’re all feeding off each other’s energy. There was something good about the energy in the San Jose away game and there was something special in the locker room, we could all feel it at half time and after the game. The last couple of days, we’ve all been excited and I think we’re feeding off each other and we’re starting to play close to potential and we want to keep it that way.” 

11 November 1:30 pm

Ahead of tonight's Western Conference Championship, LA Galaxy broadcaster Mark Rogondino discusses tonight's match between the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC

 

11 November 11:26 am

Ahead of tonight's Western Conference Championship First Leg with Seattle Sounders FC, I spoke to SoundersFC.com's Matt Gaschk to discuss the current play of the Sounders head into tonight's all-important match up. 

I had a similar conversation with Gaschk, which can be found on SoundersFC.com.

My conversation with Gaschk is below...

The Sounders advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time in club history.  How big of a boost has this been to the club and how can it carry them into the match against LA?

GASCHK: "The win on Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium can’t be understated.  In a lot of ways, this team has been carrying that burden for the last three years – that they can have success in the regular season and Open Cup, but can’t solve the playoffs.  Now, with that behind them, they can relax and be themselves. At the same time, there are 14 players on this year’s squad that weren’t on the team last year when they lost to Real Salt Lake in the Conference semifinals.  So a lot of players on this team haven’t felt that history of trouble in the playoffs and are coming in with a clean slate, which is good in a lot of ways."

Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero are well known entities up front for Seattle, what are some of the club’s other weapons and how do they integrate with the big two?

GASCHK: "Seattle’s greatest depth has been in the midfield and this year, they can add forward to that list too. David Estrada was incredible for this team in the opening weeks of the season while Eddie Johnson was sidelined with a hamstring strain.  Throughout the year, Sammy Ochoa has also shown that he can score when called upon with his goals coming in the CONCACAF Champions League and US Open Cup.  Meanwhile the midfield remains a strength, with Mario Martinez really showing his quality with the game-winner against Salt Lake on Thursday. With all of those options within the starting lineup, assuming Mauro Rosales is unavailable, it’s easy to forget about Steve Zakuani too, who has shown that he is nearing the form that had him penned as one of the best young players in MLS two years ago before his injury that ended his 2011 season after just five matches."

The Sounders allowed the lowest goal total in the West this season and held Real Salt Lake scoreless in the WC Semis.  What has been the rationale for their success?

GASCHK: "The backline has been very good throughout the year, showing their depth as well with seven players seeing regular playing time. They have also shown a commitment to defending throughout the field and when they are at their best; all 11 players are playing active roles in winning the ball and eliminating easy opportunities. Add to that the stellar play of Osvaldo Alonso in the midfield and the record-setting first season in MLS by Michael Gspurning and it’s no wonder they have the top defensive numbers in the West."

DP Christian Tiffert came into the club at midseason; how role has he played since joining the team?

GASCHK: "Tiffert has shown versatility in that he can play all three midfield roles in front of Alonso.  He’s not afraid to track back and get involved in the action, but his best attribute is his ability to set up goalscorers in opportune places.  He was the top setup man in the Bundesliga for a reason and while the assists haven’t come yet, his calmness on the ball has been important in the patient attack for the Sounders."

What will Seattle’s mindset be heading into the first leg, knowing that the club will have a second leg at CenturyLink Field?

GASCHK: "That is a great question.  Coming off of a very difficult series with Real Salt Lake, many teams would bunker in and hope for a scoreless draw in the first leg.  But that’s not really the style that has gotten this team to the point where they are one of the top two teams in MLS over the last four years, along with the Galaxy.  This team likes to play and I think that’s what we will see on Sunday."

Lastly, Seattle has enjoyed success against the Galaxy this season, but have struggled in the past.  How does this Seattle team view the Galaxy and how do they feel they can beat them?

GASCHK: "The Sounders have a tremendous amount of respect for what the Galaxy have been able to do.  There is a reason they have had the success that they have had in recent years and the series between the two teams has been very tightly contested in every year except 2010, when the Galaxy won all four meetings in the regular season and playoffs.  Outside of that year, Seattle has gone 3-2-2 against LA and has won twice on their way to the US Open Cup title.  This year, they are much more equipped to take a patient tact against the Galaxy and that’s how they’ve had success.  There are key matchups all over the field, but if the forward tandem of Johnson and Montero can have success against Omar Gonzalez and Tommy Meyer – if A.J. DeLaGarza can’t play – then that could carry Seattle in this playoff series."

10 November 9:08 pm

Seattle Sounders FC will be without Marc Burch for the Western Conference Championship and MLS Cup, if they get that far.

On Saturday evening, Burch was suspended three games by the MLS Disciplinary Committee and fined an undisclosed amount for directing a homophobic slur at Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson during the Western Conference Semifinal Second Leg at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday. If Seattle are eliminated by the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Championship, he will be suspended for the first game of the 2013 season. In addition to his fine and suspension, Burch will also attend diversity and sensitivity training. 

“Major League Soccer has a zero tolerance policy in response to this type of behavior from its players or staff,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a statement.  “While I understand and believe that Mr. Burch is remorseful, Major League Soccer is committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.”

The 28-year-old left back was a staple in the Seattle lineup this year, starting in 19 of his 29 appearances this season while also tallying three assists. Burch started both legs of the Western Conference Semifinal against RSL, going 90 minutes in both instances.

With Burch out for the duration of the playoffs, defender Zach Scott appears to be the most likely option to slide into his position.