Ahead of RSL, Bruce Arena questions the rationale behind the LA Galaxy's three back-to-back series in 2014
CARSON, Calif. – Thanks to a kink in the MLS regular season schedule and a rescheduled match due to the team’s CONCACAF Champions League participation, LA Galaxy will face Real Salt Lake for the second time in two weeks on Saturday. And that prospect does not bring joy to the face of LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena.
The match at Rio Tinto Stadium comes after LA’s emotional CCL series against Club Tijuana and is the third such time that LA will play back-to-back league games against the same opponent. Following LA training session on Thursday, Arena voiced his displeasure about LA’s odd schedule.
“We've tried to make it clear to the league that we thought this was not the way to do it, but they have their own minds,” Arena said following LA's training session Thursday morning at StubHub Center. “We're going to be the only team in the league doing this on three occasions this year. I don't think it's good.
“I think that it’s not a good way to end the year,” added Arena in reference to LA’s back-to-back end of the year matchup against Seattle Sounders FC. “They tend to think that we create the television ratings that haven’t been there that we’re going to create them. I don’t know how we’re going to create them at the end of the year. As much as possible, we should space the games out in-conference and out-of-conference as much as we can.”
The RSL “series” is one of three back-to-back matches that LA will play as they play a home-at-home series against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on April 12 and April 19 before ending the season with two games against Seattle Sounders FC on Oct. 19 and Oct. 25.
While Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan admitted that the schedule of back-to-back league games against RSL bracketing a CCL series with Tijuana wasn’t ideal, it was beneficial for planning purposes.
“In my opinion, [the schedule] helps. You don’t have to do that much preparation. We know exactly what Salt Lake is going to bring,” said Donovan. “It’s a very easy scouting report because we know that they’re a very good team and it’s going to be difficult, but we know exactly what to expect.”
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In the latest edition of "Kickin' It With Kelli," Time Warner Cable SportsNet sideline reporter Kelli Tennant speaks to A.J. DeLaGarza about life in Los Angeles, the Galaxy and his dog Diesel at Silvio's in Hermosa Beach.
Check it out below.
CARSON, Calif. – The bitter taste of Tuesday’s disappointing defeat to Club Tijuana has not yet dissipated for the LA Galaxy, but now as they look ahead to their match against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, they’re hoping to use their poor showing as motivation as they return to league play.
With the nightmare opening 30 minutes that led to a 4-2 loss to Tijuana still in their mind, LA understand that a strong start at Rio Tinto Stadium is vital if they’re going to earn their first league result of the year.
“If our mentality is better from the start, we’re very capable of getting a result there [in Salt Lake],” said Landon Donovan who started LA’s 4-2 defeat to Club Tijuana on Tuesday. “I think the guys are fired up and disappointed form Tuesday and we want to go put in a real good performance in Salt Lake.”
The match against RSL marks the second time in a two week span that the Galaxy will on Jeff Cassar’s side after LA dropped a 1-0 result in their home opener on March 8. In that match, the Galaxy outplayed Salt Lake, but ultimately poor finishing proved to be their undoing in the defeat.
As frustrating as that defeat to RSL may have been, it won’t be on the mind of Donovan once the Galaxy kick off on Saturday.
“What is fresh in our mind is Tuesday. The way that we started that game is not indicative of the team that we are,” said Donovan. “We’re very talented and we know that, but if we don’t compete then we can get beat especially against good teams."
There weren't many silver linings in the LA Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Club Tijuana, but the play of target striker Rob Friend may bode well for the future.
In my latest piece for LAGalaxy.com, Friend talks about his strong showing against Club Tijuana. Following the match, I asked Friend about the mood in the Galaxy locker room following their 3-0 first half drubbing against Club Tijuana that ultimately ended in a 4-2 defeat and an exit in the CCL.
"We had to dig deep, we had to show some character. You are never down and especially when you are away like this, all we had to do was get two goals and we were back in the game and we would have advanced," said Friend. "I think that last goal kind of killed us but we still showed and I think that if we would have played ten more minutes in that game we could have got a result. I think Tijuana was happy that the game ended when it did because we were pressuring them and I don’t think they could have handled us at the end there."
TIJUANA, MEXICO – The LA Galaxy players differed about the timing, but all admitted that LA surrendered their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with Club Tijuana within the opening 30 minutes.
LA conceded three times in the opening half hour as Tijuana pressed mercilessly, but nearly leveled the tie thanks to a Robbie Keane second half brace, that ultimately was not enough. Following the match, the Galaxy admitted their slow start in Tijuana cost them the series.
“The game was over in the first 10 minutes. It’s as simple as that. We started off slow and when you concede a goal in the space of 57 seconds; you can’t start away from home like that especially in a game like this and go on and expect that everything is going to be okay,” said Robbie Keane. “Once you concede one goal then you have to get organized and concede again, then five minutes later, you concede again. It put our backs against the wall and when we had to fight to get back in the game.”
Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan agreed.
“When you start a game like that then you don’t deserve it. We lost the game in the first 25 minutes, we know that,” said Donovan. “It’s disappointing because we know what we’re capable of, we showed what we’re capable of, but unfortunately for us, we were a little naïve and it showed.”
TIJUANA, Mexico – The gap between MLS teams and Mexico ones in CONCACAF Champions League remains.
The LA Galaxy crashed out of the CCL on Tuesday with a 4-2 defeat to Club Tijuana that saw them fall to the Liga MX side 4-3 on aggregate. LA’s loss gives MLS clubs a 2-27-5 record all time against Mexican clubs in Champions League and a 0-8-2 record in knockout round matches.
Following LA’s defeat, which featured three Tijuana goals in the opening 30 minutes of the game,Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan admitted that the gap between the two leagues was apparent on Tuesday.
“I think that you see the difference in the leagues in nights like tonight. We’ve got about eight who are mature and know how these games are while they’ve got 20 guys who know how these games go,” said Donovan. “That’s the difference in the payrolls and that’s where it is going to be difficult to make that next step until we get on equal terms where we can have the type of players that know how to play in these games.”
TIJUANA, Mexico – Bruce Arena spoke to the media following the LA Galaxy’s 4-2 defeat to Club Tijuana on Tuesday at Estadio Caliente. With the loss, the Galaxy exited the CONCACAF Champions League 4-3 on aggregate.
Arena’s comments are below.
(On the Galaxy’s 4-2 loss…)
ARENA: “It wasn’t our intention to make this game entertaining but it certainly became an entertaining game. Our first half play was awful right from the start. We understood the conditions, the field was going to make the game hectic, make the ball bounce around and spin and all that. Right from the start we conceded a goal in the first minute, very disappointing, and it took our team 30 minutes to get into the game and we positioned ourselves in the second half to advance. We got another goal and conceded the fourth. The game was 90 minutes but certainly the first 45 minutes put us in a hole.”
(On both teams’ overall performance…)
ARENA: “I think they were good. The way we played, they couldn’t beat that. We didn’t win a tackle, our backline was very poor. Let’s be fair, we weren’t good. How good they were I don’t know. They were certainly better than we were.”
(On whether the result can be called a choke…)
ARENA: “A choke? I don’t know. It didn’t look like the guys were choking in the second half. It was a good game, it ended up being a good game and we were certainly positioned to get that second goal and advance. A choke is not a good description of the performance and the character of our team. I’d choose another word.”
(On Rob Friend’s performance in the second half after coming on for Samuel…)
ARENA: “We had to be more direct, no question about it. He gave us that and he was the presence and engaged Landon [Donovan] and Robbie [Keane] a little bit more with his presence there. And I thought Samuel had a very good first half.”
TIJUANA – Club Tijuana may be down a goal in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against the LA Galaxy, but there’s little reason to worry from the Xolos camp ahead of Tuesday’s decisive second leg.
Tijuana have been near invincible at home in recent years with the team dropping just one match in their last 18 league games—a 3-0 defeat to Chiapas Jaguar in February—and will be looking to use the crowd to their advantage against the Galaxy.
If Tijuana can use their home advantage to their favor, former Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez promises that his old club will be in for a “very tough day” at the Estadio Caliente.
“We can be very unpredictable, and that's a very dangerous fighter to face,” Former Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez told reporters on Monday prior to the first leg. “The good thing about a fight, it just takes one punch. And we're one of those teams, we have some punch.”
Outside back Greg Garza, who was one of the most dangerous players in the first leg, believes that the Tijuana have found spaces to exploit in the Galaxy back line.
“They’re a very dangerous team offensively; they have a lot of good players in the attack," Garza told MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio podcast on Monday. "Maybe their weakness can be in their back line and we have to take advantage of that.”
Just because you're in town for an important game, doesn't mean that you can't have a little fun.
During the LA Galaxy's training session at Estadio Caliente on Monday, LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane fired an amazing trick shot firing a pinpoint laser into a nearby shopping cart pushed by LA Equipment coordinator Rafael Verdin.
Check it out below.