CARSON, Calif. — Omar Gonzalez found the back of the net for the first time in 2014 during Friday’s 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, but the LA Galaxy center back was smiling after the result.
Despite a comprehensive performance against their archrivals, the Galaxy were forced to battle back from a pair of deficits after a pair of quick transition goals by San Jose. During both San Jose tallies, Gonzalez—and the rest of the Galaxy defense— were caught out of position as the Earthquakes notched a pair of counterattack goals.
“[It was] not one of his better games,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena of Gonzalez’s performance after the draw. “I think he could’ve defended a little bit better on the two goals, but they obviously weren’t too dangerous going forward and somehow we managed to concede two goals. That’s the story line.”
Gonzalez redeemed himself in the 49th minute when he broke free of Atiba Harris on a corner kick and placed a Stefan Ishizaki effort off the pitch and into the bottom corner of the Earthquakes net. Set piece finishes have become a specialty of Gonzalez, who has drawn considerable pressure from opposing defenses since his memorable tally in the 2012 MLS Cup final.
“I finally got my goal,” said Gonzalez. “When players don’t hold on to me [on set pieces], I can find the ball, so I’m happy that I could get open, and get my head on the ball.”
Even though he broke free against San Jose, Gonzalez doesn’t expect to be as open in the future.
“I definitely expect the [defenders] to be holding me. That’s the way it is,” said Gonzalez. “My job is to make the run, and it’s up to the referee to see that. I will just keep on doing that, and I’m sure I will keep getting held.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan's legacy is assured now, but there was a point when his status as the greatest American soccer player was in doubt.
Prior to end of the 2009 season, Donovan had a lukewarm relationship with U.S. fans who basked in his accomplishments for the U.S. National Team, but still felt that America's greatest soccer player should test himself abroad rather than stay in MLS. Donovan had succeeded winning three MLS Cups, but failed stints in Germany led to criticism for the star midfielder.
Fast forward to 2014 and the perception of Donovan has clearly evolved. Donovan enjoyed a pair of successful loan stints with English Premier League side Everton, won two more MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy and provided U.S. Soccer with its watershed moment with his iconic goal in the 2010 World Cup against Algeria. When the Galaxy star was omitted from the U.S. national team's roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, an upspring of popular support flowed for Donovan.
During his press conference on Wednesday, Donovan addressed his role in growing MLS and how the preception of his decision to remain in the league through the years changed.
"The perception of playing in the Major League Soccer has certainly changed. I think when you see the success of the teams here and the players here, the level of plays, the talents, and the desire for players in the other world to make this the league of choice if they want to play in, it’s important. I played here, the majority of my career with this squad because I wanted to be happy," said Donovan. " And my happiness always lay here playing close to my friends and family. I always thought it was much more important to be here doing that, than be lost in the shuffle somewhere in Europe or elsewhere. So, that for me was the perfect fit. It doesn’t mean that it is everyone’s choice, and that’s ok. But, for me, that was the perfect fit. I was fortunate that had some people who wanted come along and join the journey with me."
But once the final ball has been kicked in 2014, what will be next for America's greatest soccer player?
Donovan insisted that he hopes to travel with his girlfriend Hannah, but after that he's hoping to play role in youth development with the Galaxy going forward.
"I absolutely want to work with kids," said Donovan. "I spoke to [Chris] Klein extensively about working with the academy, and that for me will be a really good way to come closer to home. I fully expect that it will happen at some point."
And when Donovan decides he wants to return, Klein and AEG President Dan Beckerman insist that the club will welcome him back with open arms.
"Landon will always be the member of the LA Galaxy, always be the member of the AEG family, and when he decides what it is that he wants to do—what he wants to put his energy and heart into next—we will be there to talk to him about that," said Klein.
Added Beckerman, "Landon will be able to do whatever he wants. He has accomplished so much on the field, and for the love of the game. He will be able to do whatever he wants, whether that is working with the kids or working with the Galaxy. Whatever he does, he will obviously be successful. He is the best American player in the history of this country, and he will be equally successful in what he decides to do in the next chapter of his life."
The LA Galaxy host the San Jose Earthquakes for the first and only time at the StubHub Center on Friday in what will be Landon Donovan's final home game against his former club.
In the latest edition of "By the Numbers" we look into the match between the Galaxy and San Jose as well as Donovan's impact on both clubs.
Check it out below.
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy nearly added a player at the MLS transfer deadline, but according to head coach and general manager Bruce Arena, "forces" in the league prevented them from completing a move.
Reports surfaced on Wednesday that the Galaxy had signed U.S. international Sacha Kljestan, but the move did not materialize before the deadline which Kljestan tweeting that he was still a member of Belgian club RSC Anderlecht. Following practice on Thursday, Arena did not address whether it was Kljestan that the Galaxy were after, but admitted that LA nearly completed a transfer move at the deadline.
"We came close. There were just forces in the league that prevented us from doing it," said Arena. "I won't go into the details, but that's the reason. Our organization did everything possible to secure a player and unfortunately there were forces fighting really hard to not allow that to happen. Subsequently it didn't.
"We did everything possible to acquire a player and probably should have been able to do that."
CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan is hanging up his boots at the end of the season.
The LA Galaxy midfielder announced via his personal Facebook page on Thursday morning that he’ll be retiring from the sport of soccer at the end of the 2014 MLS season. The all-time leading goal scorer for MLS and the U.S. National Team, Donovan has four goals and seven assists this season.
Donovan is expected to speak at a press conference at StubHub Center on Thursday.
Landon Donovan proved to be the hero of MLS yet again on Wednesday evening.
In a brief cameo, Donovan scored the game-winning goal in the 70th minute as the MLS All-Stars defeated the reigning German champions FC Bayern Munich 2-1 at Providence Park in Portland. For his strike, Donovan was awarded the MLS All-Star Game MVP award. Bradley Wright-Phillips added the first goal for the All-Stars while Robert Lewandowski scored the lone goal for the Germans.
With the score tied at one goal apiece, Donovan broke the deadlock in the 70th minute with stellar finish past Germany World Cup champion goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for the game-winning strike after a pass from Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. After scoring the eventual game winner, Donovan was promptly pulled from the match after his brief 26 minute appearance.
Omar Gonzalez was not available for the match, but the Galaxy defender was present for the match as he was honored after the game along with the rest of the MLS and Bayern Munich members of the U.S. World Cup squad.
CARSON, Calif. – Could Sacha Kljestan be coming to the LA Galaxy? According to one report, yes.
Corner of the Galaxy reported on Wednesday that the U.S. international has been acquired by the Galaxy ahead of the MLS Transfer Deadline. Soccer By Ives initially reported that LA were interested in Kljestan and were lining up a deal using the league’s allocation order.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has continued to be tight lipped about any possible deal but did tell reporters on Wednesday that a Galaxy transfer deadline move was "possible" and that "we'll likely know in the near future what is going on."
A Galaxy spokesman offered no comment about the report as of Wednesday afternoon, but sources tell me that the deal is a possibility heading into the deadline.
Will Kljestan join the Galaxy?
Share your thoughts below.
CARSON, Calif. -- Jose Villarreal is back and the LA Galaxy Homegrown Player believes that he has plenty to prove returning to Southern California.
In my latest piece for LAGalaxy.com, Villarreal talks about his frustrations with his stint with Cruz Azul and his eagerness to shine for Galaxy II. Villarreal failed to register a single appearance for the Cruz Azul first team, but scored in his first appearance for Los Dos last weekend in their loss to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds
More of Jose Villarreal's thoughts on coming back are below.
(On whether he regrets his transfer to Mexico…)
VILLARREAL: “I wouldn’t say regret, but it was a challenge. But it was a challenge that I learned a lot from. It wasn’t really a failure or a little disappointment. It was something like I went to Mexico with a mentality to do well, and it didn’t go my way. I came back with the same mentality, and I will try to do the same thing that I’ve been doing here.”
(On whether he was disappointed in the way it ended…)
VILLARREAL: “Maybe if I had gotten few more games, then my decision would have been a lot tougher. So it is what it is, and I’m happy with that.”
(On the main lesson that he learned in Mexico…)
VILLARREAL: “Lifestyle is different obviously, but the society isn’t as wealthy as it is here. So, you can see the difference of the way players live versus the way that the people live. So that was the learning off the field. And on the field, it was a different kind of soccer, and got to learn it the first two years that I was here, so from the five months that I was there, I will try to bring what I learned over there and mix it up with the style over here.”
(On whether the biggest regret at Mexico was not getting enough minutes…)
VILLARREAL: “I think that was what it was. I was coming from being on the bench and getting few minutes with the Galaxy here and there, and few starts, and Champions League. So, I went down there and I couldn’t play the Champions League because of the rule, and those games were good, and we ended up winning the Champions League, so it would have been good to get into those games, but as you said not being able to get minutes. Maybe I could have waited, but I didn’t so, we’ll see what happens from now. Most of the minutes that I was getting were with the U-20s. I think I played 10 minutes with the Hidalgo team, so it was a bit frustrating but it was just some bumps on the road and I just got to keep going.”
(On the differences between top players in Mexico and in the USA…)
VILLARREAL: “From the top players like top players like Robbie Keane, who is from oversea, 90% chance is a goal. So he is the guy that you want on your team. You could see the difference. For example, Gyasi has been great this season. Last season, he had a lot of opportunities and he was working on it. Now you give this player minutes there is confidence when he steps on the field. Just keep going and the result is going well so I’m happy for him.”
(On any first team aspirations that he holds…)
VILLARREAL: “I haven’t really talked about that. I’m focused, right now, and I’m looking to make a full commitment with [Galaxy II head coach Curt Onalfo] and the second team. I am happy to be with Curt. I’ve been working with him for a while and he is a good coach.”