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03 November 3:30 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Count Landon Donovan among those impressed by the San Jose Earthquakes forward trio of Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart, and Chris Wondolowski.

The Galaxy defense will have their hands full attempting to stop the trio, who accounted for 50 goals of the 72 that the Earthquakes scored this season. To put that in perspective, it is more than five of the teams that qualified for MLS Cup Playoffs, and would be in the sixth highest team output this season.

The most divisive of the trio is Lenhart, whose physical playing style has drawn the ire of many of his opponents this season, but has also seen him tally a total of 10 goals and two assists this season. Such an output led one reporter on Saturday to question whether Lenhart was U.S. National team material and while Donovan admitted that he'd leave the decision to U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Lenhart could be counted among the many that could help the USMNT.

"That’s not my decision to make, but I think that he’s had a great year. I think him and Gordon have a great partnership; him and Wondolowski have a great partnership. He’s a big part of their team and a player that we have to contain,” said Donovan. “There’s a lot of guys that could help the national team. I assume that anybody playing against him wouldn’t be too happy if they saw him lining up on the other side of the field from the U.S. team so you never know.”

But Donovan saved his chief praise for Wondolowski, who tied Roy Lassiter's record for most goals in a single season with 27 this year.

"I’ve talked to Frank [Yallop] about him actually and he says that he spends a lot of time in front of the goal everyday doing finishing. He plays on a team where he’s not asked to do a lot more than just get in front of the goal, and be dangerous. His runs are excellent, his timing is as good as anyone in this league, and his pure finishing ability is as good as anyone in this league right now," said Donovan. "When he gets a chance then he buries it. That’s a credit to how hard he works. I think people assume that he just all of a sudden became this great goal scorer. I think in talking to Frank and seeing him during the All-Star Game or with the national team, you see how much time that he spends doing it. I always like to say, success is no accident and it’s certainly not with him.”

03 November 12:43 pm

CARSON, Calif. – With a quick turnaround and numerous injuries, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has repeatedly stated that he anticipates lineup changes for Sunday’s Western Conference Semifinal first leg

One potential change could see Marcelo Sarvas slot into the center of midfield, in place of his compatriot Juninho. During Thursday’s Knockout Round victory over Vancouver Whitecaps, Juninho took a knock to his right Achilles, but has admitted that he is hopeful that he could feature in some capacity on Sunday.  Juninho did not train on Saturday, but head coach Bruce Arena told reporters after training that “his status is that he’ll be playing” on Sunday.

However, if Juninho is unable to start, Sarvas represents an option, particularly after his role in helping spark the Galaxy attack in Thursday's win.

“I don’t know what is going to happen. I hope [Juninho is] back and we have our full team ready to play,” said Sarvas. “If I have to play there, you don’t have to think too much, you just have to be ready to help the team in that position.”

Adding Sarvas to the lineup could be a benefit for LA as the Brazilian midfielder enjoyed great success during the two teams’ 2-2 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium in October. Throughout the match, Sarvas helped fuel the Galaxy attack by completing 24 of 31 passes while helping LA control wide stretches of the game. Despite his success, San Jose was still able to battle back from two deficits to earn a 2-2 draw against the Galaxy. But regardless of the result, Sarvas believes the Galaxy understand San Jose’s style of play.

“It’s a very simple game, the ball is in the defense, it’s a long ball direct to the forwards, and we fight for the second ball. For 90 minutes, they play like that. It’s nothing beautiful to see, it’s some kind of boring football in my opinion, but it’s the way that they are leading the league so we have to respect that, and be ready for it.”

And just how does Sarvas believe the Galaxy will approach San Jose?

“You have to be physical also; you have to be ready for the second balls,” said Sarvas. “You cannot rest during the game; you have to be alert for 90 minutes.”

03 November 11:53 am

CARSON, Calif. – After missing Thursday’s Knockout Round match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC with tightness in left hamstring, right back Sean Franklin is hopeful that he can participate in Sunday’s Western Conference Final first leg against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Franklin told reporters after training on Saturday that the tightness in his hamstring stopped “a couple of days ago,” causing him to be optimistic for Sunday.  

“Everything seems good,” said Franklin. “I trained the last two days so we’ll see how I feel tomorrow. It’s up to the trainers and we’ll talk to Bruce about it. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, playing tomorrow.”

While those comments are similar to the ones that Franklin made following last Sunday’s match against the Seattle Sounders, -- when the injury first surfaced and caused him to exit the match at the half-- Franklin admitted that need to be smart about his injury prevented him from playing on Thursday.

“It was something where it was the right time to be smart about it,” said Franklin. “I felt something in the Seattle game, they said be smart about it and I’m trying to do everything that I can to make sure that it’s 100 percent.”,

03 November 11:01 am

CARSON, Calif. -- The Professional Referee Organization announced on Friday via Twitter that Referee Ricardo Salazar will officiate Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal first leg between the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes. 

Salazar officiated just two Galaxy matches this season, LA's match against the New England Revolution in March, and their 1-1 draw with FC Dallas in April that saw him deal out six cautions -- three to the Galaxy -- and award a penalty kick for each side. Meawnhile, Salazar officiated just two San Jose matches this season, a  2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls in April where he issued four cautions and a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA in May that saw him issue five yellow cards -- three to San Jose . Salazar has a history of officiating big games at The Home Depot Center having served as the referee for the 2011 MLS Cup Final. 

While Sunday's clash between the Galaxy and San Jose promises to be a physical clash, the Galaxy believe that they will need to focus on their gameplan rather than Salazar's officiating.

“It's something that we can’t worry about. We can’t think about the referees, we just have to go into the game,” said Dunivant after training on Friday. “Salazar doing the game; he’s probably the best ref in the league. He did our final last year and has done a lot of big games, so he won’t be an excuse for us. We can’t think about the referees going into this game, we have to think about San Jose.”

03 November 10:40 am

CARSON, Calif. -- For the first time since 2005, the LA Galaxy head into the Western Conference Semifinal as the series’ lowest seed, meaning that The Home Depot Center will host the first leg of the two-leg series against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Of the 36 home-and-home series in MLS history since their introduction during the  2003 MLS Cup playoffs, the top seeds have advanced 22 times.  Whether this actually classifies a competitive advantage or disadvantage for either team remains a heated topic for debate, but Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant is convinced that it means little.

“I guess that technically it should be, but in reality, it’s not. A lot of times, the only real advantage to having the second leg at home is knowing what you need to do   and also having that  overtime in penalties, but that’s not a huge advantage,” said Dunivant. “Last year, Salt Lake got up 3-0 on Seattle and it was too big a hill for [the Sounders] to climb when they got home.  It can go either way, D.C.. and New York just swapped, and I don’t think that’s going to change drastically what is happening in that series. It is two games and you have 180 minutes to decide who is going through and who is advancing.”

Curiously enough, LA’s opponents in that 2005 series? None other than the 2005 Supporters’ Shield winners, the San Jose Earthquakes.

02 November 1:30 pm

LA Galaxy released their Friday injury report earlier this afternoon.

Off the list are David Beckham and Landon Donovan, who both went 90 minutes on Thursday, while David Junior Lopes was downgraded from out to questionable with a left facial fracture. Added to the list were Sean Franklin and Christian Wilhelmsson, neither of whom dressed in Thursday’s Knockout Round victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Not added to the list is Brazilian midfielder Juninho, who is optimistic that he will be available for Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal against the San Jose Earthquakes after sustaining a kick to his right Achilles in the closing stages of Thursday's match

Prior to the injury report being released, head coach Bruce Arena told reporters after Friday's training session that there was a “good chance” that Franklin is ready for Sunday, while the club is taking a wait and see approach on Wilhelmsson’s status.  However, Arena admitted that some moves are expected ahead of Sunday.

“I think that we’re going to make changes to our lineup whether those guys are in or out,” said Arena on Friday.

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: DF David Junior Lopes (L facial fracture); DF Sean Franklin (L Hamstring Tightness); MF Christian Wilhelmsson: (R Quad Tightness)

02 November 12:50 pm

The LA Galaxy Foundation announced on Friday that they will be collecting monetary donations for Hurricane Sandy relief at this Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal First Leg against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Galaxy Academy players and Red Cross volunteers will be stationed outside of each entrance at The Home Depot Center on Sunday from 4 pm to 6 pm to collect donations for the American Red Cross' Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. 

02 November 9:17 am

Before we turn the page to Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal match against the San Jose Earthquakes, check out my Three Points to Thursday's 2-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC. 

Find my Three Points to the game here.


Agree or disagree with my observations?

Leave your comments below. 

02 November 8:05 am

CARSON, Calif. -- Down a goal in their Knockout Round match to Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the Galaxy needed a goal to save their season -- enter Mike Magee.

In the 69th minute, David Beckham played a short corner into Juninho, who launched a cross into the box that found the right foot of Magee, whose volley found the back of the Vancouver net. Just four minutes later, Landon Donovan put LA up for good after a foul in the box by Vancouver's Martin Bonjour led to a penalty gave LA their second and final goal of the night. 

Although Magee's postseason success is becoming a regular occurrence for the Galaxy -- his goal was his fourth goal in five postseason games -- the Galaxy attacker can't seem to pinpoint the reason for his success, but what he can explain, is the heightened intensity that the MLS Cup Playoffs bring. 

"I feel it," said Magee. "I’m so much more nervous for these games than I am any other, but just as a team, we battle as a team, and I’ve kind of been the beneficiary goal-wise the last two years, but this team keeps battling away. Being down a goal, we had to push and tonight it was my turn."

Magee's teammates Beckham, Donovan, and head coach Bruce Arena discuss his goal below...

DONOVAN: "He’s a type of player that shines in moments like this. There’s something special about players like that, a lot of guys do it when games don't matter or they'll score the third goal in a three to nothing win that don't matter, but Mike
scores goals that matter. He’s done it consistently since he’s been here."

BECKHAM: "That’s what Mike does. He gets in positions – he’s a clever player, he’s a really intelligent player, and we were putting a lot of balls in the six yard box, and I saw Juninho for the short corner and obviously he put it in a position right just at the penalty spot, and Mike was there."

ARENA: "Great goal, obviously an important goal. We're real pleased with the result; not an easy game."

01 November 11:30 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Central to the LA Galaxy's comeback from a one goal deficit to defeat Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-1 was the play of substitute Marcelo Sarvas. 

After coming on for Hector Jimenez in the 52nd minute, Sarvas' quick passes and speed made an immediate impact as he helped draw the attention of the Vancouver defense, leading the opportunties like Mike Magee's game-tying-goal in the 69th minute of play. With Juninho dealing with an apparent Achillies injury, Sarvas may be called into action during Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal first leg against the San Jose Earthquakes. 

Sarvas discusses his role in Thursday's Galaxy victory below... 

(On playing right back…)

SARVAS: I think in the situation today, we’re behind in the score, everybody has to help in some way, and when the coach asked me if I could play in that position, I didn’t think, just said yes, of course. I’m happy everything worked good and I think I did a good job.”

(On his Instructions from Arena…)

SARVAS: “He asked me to play offensive because they had everybody sitting back and just waiting, so they asked me to play wide and try to cross the ball and to score. To make it 1-1.”

(On LA’s Patience…)

SARVAS: “That’s important to have guys that are used to playing games like that, that you can control the motion, that you can control the time, we were behind because they scored but we had that game controlled.  We had the ball possession, sometimes a little bit slow with the ball but we had the game, we just had to score the first goal then we knew that the second would come.”