Omar Gonzalez solidified his spot as a legitimate option for Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. national team squad with an active 90 minute performance in the United States' scoreless draw against Canada on Tuesday at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The U.S. struggled to generate much offense against the organized Canadians, but Gonzalez was a rock in central defense as he helped shut down any forays forward by the Canadians. Gonzalez was also active on the attack as he was frequently targeted on set pieces as the U.S. looked to break the deadlock.
While Gonzalez excelled against the Canadians, his LA Galaxy teammate A.J. DeLaGarza was not on the gameday roster.
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CARSON, Calif. –Michael Stephens is well aware that he has an opportunity to solidify his place with the LA Galaxy this season and now it’s up to the energetic 23-year-old to lock one down.
After spending three seasons behind the likes of David Beckham, Juninho, and Marcelo Sarvas in LA's midfield depth chart, the departure of Beckham represents an opportunity for Stephens to lock down a regular spot with the Galaxy starting lineup in 2013.
“Personally, it’s a really important year for me,” said Stephens. “I’ve been kind of a role player. It’s time for me step up here and define a role on this team.”
While Stephens may be looking to carve out a place in the Galaxy’s starting XI, just where he fits on the field is still to be decided.
“We’re going to be playing him a little out wide as well as inside [the midfield]. In those terms, there are some adjustments depending on where he plays, he’s got to tactically understand and do it right,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “He’s been behind some good players, he’s been dealing with in the middle Beckham, Juninho and Sarvas last year and out wide [Mike] Magee, Christian [Wilhelmsson], Landon [Donovan] so it’s not a criticism of Mike because he’s just been competing against some good players.”
A few preseason notes…
*Bruce Arena on the situation surrounding goalkeeper William Hesmer, who was selected in the MLS Re-Entry Draft: “Nothing at this point.”
*Robbie Keane and Juninho will arrive in Southern California later this week. It appears doubtful that they will play in Friday’s preseason match against the U.S. Under-17’s
*Arena on Friday’s preseason match: “It’s the first time that we’ll go onto the field 11 v. 11 and just transitioning into a big game and play a little bit as a team.”
Former LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham has decided to train with English Premier League giants Arsenal as he continues mull over the next stop in his career.
Beckham began training with Arsenal on Tuesday at their training ground London Colney as he looks to keep his fitness up. When asked the inviteable question if Beckham could be an option for the Gunners to sign, the club's manager Arsene Wenger immediately shot down any speculation.
"He [Beckham] has asked to come here and work on his fitness. He has not done anything for a long time," Wenger told the media. "He called me. It is purely for fitness. There is no speculation of signing him or anything."
CARSON, Calif. –On Tuesday, LA Galaxy defenders A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez will look to further their International careers when the United States takes on Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The two Galaxy defenders and the rest of the U.S. squad departed for Houston over the weekend and finished up their final preparation for the friendly with a public training session on Monday evening. In his third camp with the national team, DeLaGarza has been impressed with the preparations ahead of the friendly against Canada.
“Every session has been short, but very intense. The quality is high [throughout the roster]. We’re getting good quality training every day and we’re getting minutes by scrimmaging so we’re moving along pretty well,” said DeLaGarza. “It’s been good. I kind of knew what to expect coming into this camp and all the guys are top quality players.”
Whether DeLaGarza will have a place in head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting lineup–or even the game day roster – on Tuesday remains to be seen, but Klinsmann has been impressed with what he has seen from the resourceful defender.
“He’s versatile; he reads the game very well. Sometimes, you don’t need to be the big strong guy and get into the battle because he gets in front of his opponent and wins it already,” said Klinsmann. “We told him, we see how things develop and we see a lot of qualities in him. He’s a different type of center back than Omar Gonzalez or Matt Besler and you need this to put your puzzle together.”
The U.S. National Team head coach summarizes the January camp in a video produced by U.S. Soccer below.
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy finally broke up their intense fitness preparation on Monday by participating in short-sided games for much for the club’s training session.
After spending the first week focusing primarily on fitness work, the session represented an opportunity for head coach Bruce Arena to evaluate his players in a new way.
“It’s just a start, we had five weeks before we open so we have plenty of time, but it was good to get the guys out in a regular training session today,” said Arena. “It’s a group of young players, but it was good to see how some of the responded to the training and look at their habits as well as things they do well and not do well so we can build on that.”
Midfielder Michael Stephens was overjoyed to take part in actual on-field work.
“Finally, we cut up the monotony of running around in a circle. We took the balls out and I thought that we had a good first day. I thought that everyone was pretty sharp,” said Stephens. “On the first day, it is usually pretty frantic, but it was generally very good. You can kind of see all the new guys and how they are on the ball as well as how everyone came back from the offseason. It’s a lot more fun than just straight running.”
A couple more notes below…
* Arena told reporters on Monday that Juninho will “probably” be at Galaxy training on Wednesday. Juninho is currently in Brazil awaiting his visa.
*The Galaxy dealt with windy conditions today that seem to cause a greater problem for the assembled media than the players. Stephens had this to say on the conditions: “Today was windy which is a surprise for L.A. because we’re used to it being sunny and calm every day. It was nice until we did the wind sprints after practice because I think these 15 or 20 mph wind gusts made it hard to run on one side of the field.”
*One of the players who impressed in practice on Monday was Brazilian defender Leonardo who has recovered from the knee injuries that have plagued him over the past two years. LAGalaxy.com writer Larry Morgan spoke to Leonardo to discuss his recovery.
The kick off time for the LA Galaxy's April 13 match against FC Dallas at FC Dallas has been changed to 4:30 p.m. PT.
The match was previously scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.
CARSON, Calif. – This preseason, LA Galaxy Academy star Paul Arriola has been given a chance to train alongside the Galaxy first team and the 17-year-old attacker is savoring every moment.
A member of the United States’ Under-17 squad that went to the U-17 World Cup in Mexico in 2011, Arriola made his debut for the Galaxy’s Developmental Academy team in October. In just five appearances with the Galaxy U-18’s, he notched two goals for the West Conference Southwest Division leaders.
After a successful season with the Academy, the San Diego native was invited to train with Liga MX title-holders Club Tijuana in late-December. That prepared Arriola for his next big chance, an opportunity to train with the Galaxy during their preseason preparations.
“It’s a good opportunity to play with the first team and I want to be here,” Arriola recently told LA Galaxy Insider. “I’m just going to try and take in as much as possible so that I can learn from the veterans and the guys coming out of college so it really is a learning experience, but at the same time I want to prove myself to show that I can make it to next level.
Placing Academy players amongst the first team is nothing new for the Galaxy as over the past year, Developmental Academy starlets Oscar Sorto, Raul Mendiola and others have trained with the Galaxy’s top squad. With many of his Academy alums now contributing valuable minutes to the Galaxy, Arriola believes that one day, he might be able to do the same.
“You look up to everyone here because they’re professionals, but especially Jack [McBean] and Oscar who came from the same position that I am and I know that I can make it,” said Arriola. “Every opportunity whether it’s somewhere else on a trial or with the national team, it’s always an opportunity to show yourself and show how good you are.”
Chris Klein continued his meteoric rise up the LA Galaxy's business ranks just over two years since retiring from a 12-year career in MLS on Monday by being announced as club President.
The Galaxy announced the move on Monday morning. The Sports Business Journal reported the news first.
“We have always been impressed with Chris’ commitment and desire to excel on the business side of sports, and we have great confidence and faith that he will take the LA Galaxy to new levels,” said AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke in a statement. “We admire his passion and loyalty to the brand and his desire for the Galaxy to be the greatest soccer club in the history of this sport in this country. What makes Chris even more valuable to the Galaxy is his ability to understand our academy system, our development system and the partnership he has with Bruce will allow the Galaxy to continue to compete for championships year after year.”
After retiring Klein was named Senior Director of the Galaxy Academy before named club Vice President a year ago. In his new role, Klein will work with AEG Sports Chief Operating Officer Kelly Cheeseman to oversee business operations with the club.
"I am thrilled with this opportunity and excited to continue working with the great group of individuals we have on our staff," said Klein in a statement. "The Galaxy's best days are ahead of us and I am thankful that Tim and his team at AEG have the confidence in me to help lead us into the future".
David Beckham may not have chosen the next challenge of his career yet, but according to the British tabloid The Mirror, he is currently attempting to lure several of England's biggest stars across the Atlantic.
British Tabloids are always of questionable factual value so take this with a heavy grain of salt, but the tabloid states that Beckham has been attempting to lure Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard, Manchester United's Michael Carrick, Stoke City's Peter Crouch, and Chelsea FC's Ashley Cole to MLS to as the article states "finish their careers in the U.S."
In the same article, former English International Jermaine Pennant -- who is currently with Stoke City with Crouch -- states that he is interested in a possible move to MLS as well.
A few more evening notes and must reads:
*Across the hall, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola aka "El Chelis" may have put an end to rumors surrounding his goalkeeper Dan Kennedy stating "I need him more than anybody" after declaring him the Rojiblancos' captain.
*In a stirring feature story, the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter examines the story of Chivas' draft pick Carlos Alvarez in an impressive feature.
*Seattle Sounders FC re-acquired forward Lamar Neagle from the Montreal Impact in exchange for an International spot.
*A report states that D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon has been called up by Trinidad and Tobago.
*One of the great must reads from the past week comes from SB Nation's Jorge Arangure Jr. who examines Liga MX side Club Tijuana, who he brands "The Americas' Team."
CARSON, Calif. – Forward Charlie Rugg may have been the LA Galaxy’s first round selection the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, but the rookie from Boston College believes he has plenty to prove.
When Rugg was selected by the Galaxy with the 19th overall pick last Thursday, the 22-year-old rookie was overjoyed as he watched the draft with several of his friends and Golden Eagles teammates. However, as he enjoyed the moment, he couldn’t help but notice the ensuing reports from draft experts praising his skill, but questioned if he was a reach for LA in the first round.
Despite battling through a pair of injuries last season—a hyperextended knee in the beginning of the season and a strained hamstring at the end—Rugg notched five goals and four assists in his senior season with the Golden Eagles.
“I was injured for most of my college career which hurt my draft stock a little bit. I kind of feel like coaches might have forgotten about me,” said Rugg. “Then there was some buzz about me being a little bit of a reach in the first round so I definitely have something to prove.”
During his time with Boston College, scouts and coaches praised his speed and strength as he racked up 28 goals and 18 assists while earning three consecutive All-Atlantic Coast Conference First team nods. However, Rugg insists that his development as a player hasn’t all been physical, but mental as well.
“One of the things that I’ve learned as I’ve grown up and other guys have caught up to me speed and athleticism wise is that I’ve learned to play better soccer,” said Rugg. “My technical skills have gotten better and in college I learned to play with my back to the goal so I can adapt.”
Rugg will need his adaptation skills in his first year in the professional ranks as he must not only learn how to handle a inevitable step up in play from college to the pros, but also –possibly—a new position.
“I’ve heard that I might be turned into an outside player,” said Rugg. “It’s where I started my career as an outside midfielder and they might put me out there, which I’m completely ready for. It might just take some reshaping.”
But Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is confident that he can flourish at the professional level.
“He’s a good player, he’s technically good,” said Arena. “He’s physically gifted and we’re going to learn more once we get involved a little more with each other and play some outside competition.”
If Rugg does impress, he’ll have the chance to learn from the likes of Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and join a young stable of Galaxy attackers that includes Jose Villarreal, Jack McBean, and Gyasi Zardes. As he begins his professional career, the young forward is excited for his new opportunity.
“I think that I learn well so it’s great that I can learn from such great players,” said Rugg. “I look forward to playing at the highest level.”