12 March 3:49 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Jose Villarreal is back with the LA Galaxy from international duty and the Homegrown forward may slide right into LA’s starting XI starting with Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal second leg against C.S. Herediano.

Villarreal returned to Southern California last week from Mexico after scoring three goals while helping the U.S. reach the final of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship and qualify for this summer’s U-20 World Cup in Turkey.  Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena opted not to bring Villarreal to Costa Rica last week, but he told reporters on Tuesday that “all options are available” ahead of Wednesday’s decisive tie.

Should Villarreal start, he’ll likely be placed alongside Robbie Keane up top while the Galaxy captain’s current forward partner Mike Magee slides into midfield.  If Arena does opt to start the 19-year-old forward on Wednesday, Keane is confident that he can do the job.

“He’s a great young player. I told him last year at the end of the season before I left that ‘next year could be a big season for you, so make sure you keep yourself fit and keep yourself sharp when you come back for preseason’ and that is what he’s done,” said Keane. “He’s been with the national team and played very well with them. He’s a good player and he’s good to play with because he’s very clever and the two of us like to keep the ball on the ground and play to feet.

“Mike Magee can fit in there also, so [Villarreal has] got to come in and do as good a job,” added Keane. “Naturally, he’s kind of a front man, and like I said, he’s been playing regular games with the national team so he’s fit and sharp. He looks good in training and hopefully, we can play well together.”


Want to see Villareal partner with Keane? Or would you rather see Magee alongside the Irishman?

Share your thoughts below.

12 March 2:39 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Ahead of Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal second leg match against C.S. Herediano, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena spoke to reporters about the decisive second leg.

Arena’s thoughts are below…

(On whether Wednesday’s second leg match was the most important game of the year for him…)

ARENA: “Not of the year, it’s one game at a time. All of the games are important. This is very important and obviously, we have a game on Sunday. We think that it is very important to advance to the semifinals of this competition.”

(On how badly he wants to take the Galaxy to the Club World Cup…)

ARENA: “We’d certainly like to do that, so obviously, this game tomorrow is very important.”

(On what he saw in Costa Rica and what concerned him about Herediano…)

ARENA: “They’re a good team. All the teams in this competition are good teams. There’s nothing really concerning. We know that we need to play well in order to advance.”

(On some coaches underestimating the CCL competition and his own thoughts on that tactic…)

ARENA: “Every coach has to make their own decision with the tournament at different stages. I know that you’re referencing Tigres, I don’t know their schedule or what is important to them so perhaps that’s their reason. But for the Galaxy, we think that this game tomorrow is very important.”

(On whether he would give up games in MLS to win the CCL…)

ARENA: “We’re focused on tomorrow’s game. We don’t win tomorrow’s game then we don’t go anywhere. We take it one game at a time and make decisions as we move on.”

(On maintaining focus amid likely dramatics from Herediano…)

ARENA: “It’s the same in every game, no different. They understand that. That is what experience is.”

(On whether any focus will be shifted to Sunday’s match with Chivas USA over the CCL match…)

ARENA: “We’re not worried about Sunday’s game. We’re worried with this game first and then Sunday afterwards.”

(On the team’s health heading into Wednesday…)

ARENA: “We’re okay. You’re never 100 percent, but we’re in pretty good shape.”

(On what he expects Herediano to do…)

ARENA: “Likely start with a defensive posture. We have to have good focus and concentration early in the game and we can’t give up a goal.”

(On whether he feels that the Galaxy need to score early…)

ARENA: “It would help. It would help.” 

12 March 2:09 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have reiterated throughout the week that they’re focused solely on their own game plan ahead of Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League second leg tie against C.S. Herediano, but that does not mean that the team is not mindful of some of the Costa Rican’s weapons.

Two players in particular are Argentine midfielder Ismael Gomez and Costa Rican attacker Elias Aguilar, who both enjoyed a measure of success in the first leg down in Costa Rica.

Gomez will be known for firing his penalty kick into the cross bar in the 87th minute, but he was particularly down the right flank after coming into the match at the start of the second half. His finest chance came in the 71st as he fired a pinpoint free kick just wide of Carlo Cudicini’s net.

Meanwhile, playing from an attacking midfield position, Aguilar was able to create a pair of dangerous chances that both sailed wide of the Galaxy net, Aguilar exited with an apparent injury in the 78th minute, but traveled with the club to Southern California.

With both players expected to play key roles on Wednesday, the Galaxy understand that they must be wary.

"He was dangerous," said Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant of Aguilar. "He was smooth on the ball and knew that surface well and it played to his strengths.   So those are guys that we're going to have to keep an eye on. They're danger men and they got some speed, then... [Gomez] changed it a bit for them. In the end, we still got the zero, which was the biggest thing for us. Two games and two shutouts is a good sign for us and our defense."

11 March 6:43 pm

CARSON, Calif. –LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Jose Villarreal helped the U.S. U-20’s qualify for the 2013 U-20 World Cup, but as he turns his focus to earning a spot in the first team, he addressed his experiences in Mexico.

Villarreal spoke about his experience with the U.S. U-20’s at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship and his goals to earn a spot on the first team in my piece for

However, as interesting were Villarreal’s thoughts on the Latino influence in head coach Tab Ramos’ squad. Nine players on the 20-man roster were Latino and seven of those players were in the starting XI during U-20’s 3-1 extra time loss to Mexico in the final.

When asked about the style of U-20’s play, the Galaxy Homegrown forward admitted that it brought back pleasant memories of playing in the Sunday league soccer in his hometown of Inglewood.

“Obviously, we have a lot of Hispanics in the team and the U.S. has a tradition of [having] a lot of white players so being able to have many Hispanic players playing on the field, it was something else,” said Villarreal. “Especially after growing up and playing in Sunday leagues with a bunch of Hispanics, it was like having that feeling again. We’re all very good players on the ball and technically, we’re very skilled so it was a lot of fun.”

The U.S. weren’t the only nation to take advantage of American-born Latinos like Villarreal as Mexican goalkeeper Richard Sanchez (from Mission Hills, Calif.) and Uvaldo Luna (Houston, TX) both featured for El Tri. As countries from across CONCACAF continue their recruiting process in the U.S., Villarreal expects this trend to continue, but he’s quick to admit that he is more than happy with the U.S.

“It’s just the way it is. Whoever takes the opportunity or get called up. If Mexico decided to call up some kid from around here then they’ll take the opportunity unless they’re a die hard U.S. fan,” said Villarreal. “If you get the chance, and you have the double nationality then you have to take it. But I’m happy where I am with the U.S. and I’m happy to represent my country.”

11 March 6:11 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy returned to training on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s decisive CONCACAF Champions League second leg match against C.S. Herediano at The Home Depot Center.

LA and the Forenses will have all to play for in the second leg after the two teams battled to a scoreless draw last Thursday. Attacks were few and far between, but a Mike Magee goal was negated on an extremely-questionable offside call in the 67th while Herediano’s Ismael Gomez failed to convert a penalty kick in the 87th minute.

“We’re in position to advance if we win the game,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “I would say that most of the time, you need to come home in these competitions and need to win the game.”

Heading back to The HDC will be a major benefit for the Galaxy, particularly, after the harsh conditions at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero. Throughout the first leg, the Galaxy saw their attacks stopped, not by Herediano defenders, but an unforgiving turf surface.

With two days left until their second leg, defender Todd Dunivant admits that LA is still recovering from their experience last week.

“You expect turf fields to, at least, play true, but it was really bumpy and really uneven. That’s just not what you expect out of a turf field. That is the one thing that you should be able to get [from a turf field] is a true surface and that wasn’t the case,” said Dunivant. “It was very hard and even now, a lot of guys are complaining about their knees and joints…so it’s a good thing that we didn’t have a game this weekend. It was smart by the league to give us that break and they canceled their game against Saprissa, so we’re going to be on even terms.”

Thousands of miles away from the rough conditions at El Rosabal, Arena expects to see “more of what [Herediano] is made of” in the second leg, but does he expect them to drop back in hopes for a draw and a goal off a counter attack?

“Yeah, I would think that’s a logical assumption to make. Herediano is a good team, they’re experienced and just like with our team, we feel like we’re in position to advance, I think so do they,” said Arena. “Obviously, any kind of draw where there is a goal scored is in their favor and they would advance. 0-0 sends it into extra time, 1-1, 2-2 and etc. favors Herediano, so we need to be solid on both sides of the ball.”

11 March 4:33 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy announced the signing of 2013 MLS SuperDraft selection defender Kofi Opare on Monday

The second round choice (24th overall) from the University of Michigan has been training with the club throughout the preseason and appeared in four of the Galaxy's seven preseason games.  Opare will be eligible to make his club debut this Wednesday when LA face C.S. Herediano in their CONCACAF Quarterfinal second leg at The Home Depot Center. I examined Opare's interesting past in a feature during the preseason

LA signed their other SuperDraft selections Charlie Rugg and  Greg Cochrane on March 1.

11 March 1:25 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are gearing up for their CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal second leg against C.S. Herediano on Wednesday, but head coach Bruce Arena provided a small update on when Landon Donovan will return to the fold.

The Galaxy announced on Feb. 17 that Donovan will rejoin the club at the end of the March, but on Monday following LA’s training session, Arena offered some clarification.  

“We said late March. If he was coming back in mid-March, we’d have said mid-March,” said Arena. “I would say the last week of March would be our definition of late-March. “

When asked if that means if Donovan could return any day between March 24 and March 31, which is the final week of March, Arena agreed, but did not offer an exact date.

“It’ll be the last week in March,” said Arena. “He’s coming back one of those days.”

LA take on Toronto FC on March 30 at BMO Field, but regardless of his return date, Donovan is not expected to appear in that match.

11 March 1:05 pm

C.S. Herediano arrived in Southern California on Sunday ahead of Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal second leg at The Home Depot Center against the LA Galaxy.

Both sides battled to a scoreless draw in the CCL Quarterfinal First Leg at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero last week. 

The complete squad is below...

GOALKEEPERS: Daniel Cambronero, Leonel Moreira

DEFENDERS: Pablo Salazar, Cristian Montero, Marvin Obando, Waylon Francis

MIDFIELDERS: Esteban Ramirez, Oscar Granados, Elias Aguilar, Ismael Gomez, Carlos Hernandez, Jose Garro, Kendrick Pinnock

FORWARDS: Yendrick Ruiz, Minor Diaz, Victor Nunez, Jorge Barbosa, Olman Vargas

*Bold and italics denote a first leg starter. Italics denotes substitute appearance

A few notes:

*First leg starter left sided midfielder Jose Sanchez did not make the trip to Southern California. Sanchez went 45 minutes and was replaced by Ismael Gomez at the start of the second half.

*Olman Vargas spent the 2012 season with the Columbus Crew. Vargas appeared in 11 matches, making seven while scoring one goal.

*Herediano earned a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake during their last trip to the U.S.

11 March 9:38 am

During the LA Galaxy's trip to Costa Rica, I caught up with LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane to discuss becoming captain, his leadership style and whether he takes pride in wearing the armband.

Check out the interview below. 

10 March 8:48 pm

The LA Galaxy returned from Costa Rica earlier this week with a scoreless draw against C.S. Herediano ahead of Wednesday's decisive CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal second leg.

 Below are a selection of videos, photos and stories from LA's trip to Central America. 

Arriving at the Airport...

First Morning...

Herbalife Clinic

Training session...

Touring the Monster's Cave..

Pre-game Festivities...

The Penalty...

Post-game Thoughts...


Marcelo Sarvas' return to Costa Rica...

Pura Vida for Sarvas: Costa Rican return an emotional for Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas


Earlier on Sunday, Herediano departed San Jose, Costa Rica for Southern California.