06 March 5:22 pm

HEREDIA, COSTA RICA – Prior to the LA Galaxy’s training session in Heredia, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena caught up with traveling reporters  to discuss the match.

Arena’s complete conversation with reporters is below..

(On his thoughts on Herediano…)

ARENA: When you see teams from other countries, it’s hard to actually compare them. It’s not like comparing apples to apples, like where we have a better understanding in MLS in making a comparison. It’s a unique to what we are accustom to, in MLS, but certainly, that latin flavor. They have a bunch of good players on the ball, quick, but we’ll see what they look like next to us and vice versa."

(On Marcelo Sarvas’ comment that the game will come down to how the Galaxy manage facing a Costa Rican style of play…)

ARENA: “I think that you can have the same argument in Mexico.  Small countries have a style. It’s a little different. Is Costa Rica as big as California? Probably not. When you say that, look at Holland and England, ountries that are small and have one climate and one time zone, it’s a lot easier to have a style of play. That’s certainly what Costa Rica has. I’d say that it’s similar to Mexican soccer. They have a way of playing and it’s their style which is very unique to our country where we have all other kinds of issues that prevent that from happening.”

(On Herediano’s current level of play after their coaching change…)

ARENA: “Results indicate that they’re an improved team because of that.”

(On whether he relishes managing in tough environments…)

ARENA: “I don’t know if relish is the right word, but this is something that we think is part of the job and this is something that we think is important for our club. We’re developing as a club and we think that we should be able to compete successfully in international competitions. That’s what this is and it’s a challenge for our entire organization. How we get here, how we play, all that stuff is important. It’s an organizational challenge not only players and coaches. Then we return next week [to The Home Depot Center] and try to create an atmosphere for our team to be successful .”

(On whether getting knocked out at the quarterfinal stage in the 2011-2012 edition of the tournament motivates the club…)

ARENA: “I don’t think last year matters at this point because actually after that we entered into a new competition, which allowed us to be here. So that’s all forgotten. We did a good job as a team to get through the new competition and be here today and certainly we realize that it is challenging and important.”

(On any specific challenges with Herediano…)

ARENA: “It’s going to be a very competitive match. It’s going to be a fairly challenging environment with the fans, the surface and the officiating. We have to be ready mentally ready for that. If we can put all those distractions to the side and be able to focus and play for 90 minutes, we have a chance to win the game. Experience allows you to do that and we have enough players that have participated in these competitions where we think that we can be successful.”

(On whether he will use the first choice team or the second team…)

ARENA: “Again, circumstances are different. Right now we don’t have a game this weekend. We can play whomever we want and we don’t have to be concerned about that. For this game, we’re certainly going to put a team on the field that can win these games. No question about it, with what we think is our first team.”

06 March 2:46 pm

HEREDIA, COSTA RICA -- Robbie Keane has dealt with his fair share of hostile environments throughout his career and on Thursday, he’ll lead the LA Galaxy into another as they head to the volatile Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero to take on Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals first leg.

A rowdy crowd is expected when the two teams take the field, but LA already got a taste of the reception they’ll receive at kick off upon landing in San Jose on Tuesday evening. Keane has scored in hostile environments in CCL play in the past as he tallied in LA’s controversial defeat to Monarcas Morelia in Mexico during the group stages of the 2011-2012 tournament. 

Ahead of the quarterfinal first leg, the Galaxy captain admits that his club must rise to the occasion.

“It’s good, it’s something that you should relish and it’s always good to get a little bit of stick from the fans because it keeps you concentrated,” Keane told reporters at the team hotel on Thursday. “It’s a good opportunity for us. It’s going to be a tough game and we know that with everything that surrounds it. [The series] is 180 minutes and we have to be clever in our approach and think about the bigger picture rather than tomorrow’s game.”

But will the hostile crowd get under Keane’s skin? Quite the opposite it seems.

“Obviously, the stadium is fairly small and you’ll be able to hear everything that the fans are saying. Luckily, I don’t understand Spanish so it is quite easy for me,” Keane said. “It’s good to play in these games. I really enjoy it and when the fans get a bit angry, you can wind them up a little bit. For me, I enjoy it.”

06 March 1:26 pm

The Galaxy may be focusing on the CONCACAF Champions League, but on Wednesday, MLS released the complete schedule for the MLS Reserve League. 

LA will play ten matches in Reserve League play starting with a match against USL Pro side L.A. Blues on April 7 at Titan Stadium in Fullerton as part of the league's partnership with the third tier league, the Galaxy will face the Blues again on May 7 at The Home Depot Center. Other matches of note include a pair of matches against Chivas USA on July 22 and Oct. 7 and a match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 8. 

The complete schedule for Reserve League is here

06 March 11:48 am

HEREDIA, COSTA RICA – Marcelo Sarvas’ return to Costa Rica has been headline news locally this week and amid all the attention, the Brazilian midfielder and several of his teammates had an opportunity to give back to the community.

Sarvas and his Galaxy teammates Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin and Juninho participated in a clinic with sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, Herbalife and the Club Sport La Libertad Foundation. During the event, children from local youth soccer team Club Sport La Libertad were able to sign autographs, pose for pictures with the 2012 MLS Cup trophy as well as run through soccer drills with the players.

It was Sarvas who served as the catalyst for the event as he spoke to Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena about the potential for an event during LA’s CONCACAF Champions League trip to face C.S. Herediano. Arena quickly agreed and the event was coordinated.

“It’s something beautiful, when you live in a country like [Costa Rica] you know how important that some words for the students are,” said Sarvas.  “I think that it’s very beautiful for Galaxy and Herbalife to do this and help these people. I’m sure that they had a beautiful day and they will keep this in their memory for a while.”

Photos and video of the event are below…

05 March 11:55 pm

HEREDIA, COSTA RICA -- The LA Galaxy touched down in Costa Rica on Tuesday evening ahead of their CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal first leg against C.S. Herediano.

The Galaxy were met at the airport by a group of Herediano supporters who chanted at the team as they entered their club bus. The group even had their own chant for LA midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, who scored a goal against Herediano in the 2011 Invierno final. LA hit the training ground tomorrow afternoon. 

Below are photos and video from the airport...

05 March 3:30 pm

To get a better feel for C.S. Herediano and the conditions that the LA Galaxy will face in Costa Rica, I spoke to Juan Carlos Aguero, a columnist for Fox Deportes in Costa Rica

Check out my chat with the Costa Rican reporter below…

LA GALAXY INSIDER “Herediano recently underwent a coaching change. How has the team changed? What info can you provide on the new coach?”

AGUERO: “Since the coaching change, Heredia has become more offensive, they changed the game strategy to 4-4-2 and cut off the double 5. The trainer, Marvin Solano likes to have the possession of the ball in every minute of the game.”

LAGI: “Which Herediano players should Galaxy fans be aware of?

AGUERO: “Yendrick Ruiz is the main scorer of the team, and on the Costa Rica league, he has scored six times [this season], he is a very talented player and really fast, he likes to play on the outside. Meanwhile, Ismael Gomez and Elias Aguilar create the game in the midfield, Gomez is a lefty and his specialty is set pieces, he is actually the most important weapon with Heredia [on set pieces]. Aguilar in the other side is very good with shots from outside the area and he has a great vision of game— both are very good with physical game.”

LAGI: “What is the perception of the Galaxy in Costa Rica?”

AGUERO: “The Galaxy is the team who has many followers in Costa Rica, the quality of the players is something to admire, also the Galaxy is the MLS Cup Champion at the moment and they have a lot of respect for them.”

LAGI: “How important is the Champions League to this team and teams in the Costa Rican league?”

AGUERO: “The tournament is very important to the team in terms of international prestige, Costa Rican teams look forward to play this tournament and want win it—even though it’s really hard due to the level of opponents.”

LAGI: “How important was it for Herediano to defeat Real Salt Lake in the group stage?”

AGUERO: “It was very important because they are aware they can compete with the MLS teams knowing they have more facilities and the game level is higher.”

LAGI: “Will there be a lot of focus paid on LA midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, who scored a game winner against Herediano in a cup final?”

AGUERO: “Yes, Sarvas scored in the [Invierno] final, and many [Herediano fans] claim that goal was offside, so he is not very accepted among Heredia fans.”

LAGI: “Can you talk about the Eladio Rosabal Cordero Stadium? What are the conditions like and what is the fan support like? Should a sell-out be expected?”

AGUERO: “Eladio Rosabal Cordero Stadium is actually very small, but there are some areas on the stadium that doesn’t have fences, so the Heredia fans can be feel really close and they are very intense and passionate for their team.”

05 March 12:58 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- No LA Galaxy player is more familiar with CONCACAF Champions League opponent C.S. Herediano than Marcelo Sarvas. 

The Galaxy's Brazilian midfielder was one of the centerpieces of  L.D. Alajuelense sides that won the 2010-2011 Verano and 2011-2012 Invierno titles in the Costa Rican Primera division. Along the way, Liga tussled repeatedly with Herediano, but the most decisive clash came as both teams battled for the Invierno title. In the decisive second leg, Sarvas scored  (watch the video below at the :10 mark) as Liga advanced past Herediano in a penalty kick shootout  -- Sarvas scored there as well -- to win their second title in three seasons.

Ahead of a vital first leg, Sarvas expects Herediano to to attack from the opening whistle. 

"I'm pretty sure that they will press us from the first minute," said Sarvas. "They will come very aggressive against us because it's the way that they make things happen there in Costa Rica. It's nothing with organization with possession. You go aggressive, you play hard and play tough. It's the way that they make things happen."

LA will not only face an aggressive opponent, but they'll also deal with the close quarters at the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero, which seats 15,000 people and boasts a FieldTurf surface that Sarvas says is "between Portland and Seattle" in terms of quality.

But what reaction does Sarvas expect when he walks onto the field on Thursday?

"It'll be very hostile," said Sarvas. "[The goal came in a] final game so it is something memorable so I don't expect anything nice for me."

04 March 7:13 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- At Sunday's LA Galaxy regular season opener against the Chicago Fire, MLS commissioner Don Garber was on hand to pass out LA’s MLS Cup championship rings.

After the ceremony, Garber conducted several interviews with the media including an interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet and a halftime chat with print media.

The main topic of conversation during interview that was the state of the Galaxy's in-stadium rival Chivas USA, but reporters also touched on LA's season opener being broadcast nationally on Univision, Landon Donovan and other topics.

Garber's comments are below...

(On Chivas USA's poor attendance on opening weekend…)

GARBER: "When we launched Chivas USA, the idea was to have a team to be different and to cater to the Mexican American population in Southern California. It hasn't really been able to deliver on that vision since 2005. We went through ownership mediation -- Jorge Vergara and Angelica [Fuentes] took it over and they got a plan. It's the first game of a long season. We're certainly hopeful that it will improve. This is a market that needs, in my opinion, two teams and two different teams. We're hopeful that they'll be able to deliver on that."

(On whether or not there is concern that Chivas could become a farm team for C.D. Guadalajara...)

GARBER: "Not in any way. Remember where we were, we were hoping to get more Chivas de Guadalajara players in here from the beginning and we weren't able to do that for whatever reason. Now we've been able to do that and the players have been here for a couple weeks now. What I would encourage everybody to have is a bit of patience. They have an idea, they have a plan and we're hopeful that plan will be successfully executed. I think they need to do better in the execution. I think they need to put some real good resources on the administrative side and get really focused. The league has been assisting them and we have one of our club services guys working with them on the ticketing side to help understand the best practices that are going on with our other clubs. We're both hopeful that it will get better and we'll work hard to make sure that it does."

(On what difference between Chivas USA's plan in 2013 and in 2005...)

GARBER: "I think that they're executing on it and they didn't execute in 2005. We had [Francisco] Palencia, Claudio [Suarez] and a handful of players [from Guadalajara], but it didn't really get executed and they never really committed to it. [Former owners] Antonio and his brother [Lorenzo Cue] were the managing owners of the club and I am very close to them and they believed that there was more of an opportunity to have a more general market MLS team. There was not much of an identity difference between that team and any other MLS club. Jorge and Angelica believes that there is an opportunity to make a difference and they bought the team and they're going to deliver on that plan. What I would encourage everyone to do is, give them a shot, give them some time. The league is going to be very focused with them and we have made great process in this league in so many different areas and we're going to ensure that they're successful as well."

(On how patient the league can be with them...)

GARBER: "Listen, it's the first game. How patient? More than the first game...we're going to be focused to try to work with them and give them some resources internally to help them get better. We're going to spend more time with them to help them understand that operating a team with a difference is good, but they still need to understand that this is a traditional American sports market and they need to sell tickets, you need television deals and relationships, you need to have active sponsors who are going to promote and market your brand. You look at what the Galaxy have been able to do and it's a good model. They have to execute better.”

(On whether Chivas is limiting themselves by marketing simply to Spanish speakers…)

GARBER: "I think they have the right and there is an opportunity for them to have a different brand position. It's not just Spanish speakers per say, but more targeted to a Hispanic audience. Having different brands and a different identity is a good thing because you don't want all your teams to look and feel alike. What I would say is, let’s give them some time. If we’re here in June or July and we’re having the same issues that we’re talking about right now, this might be a different conversation.”

(On the Galaxy being shown on Univision nationally as opposed to an English language network...)

GARBER: “We have a great partner in Univision. They’re as important to us as any of our other broadcast partners in terms of what they pay for those rights and the market that they can reach. This is the first time that we’ve really gone out and given them a great game to try and support that relationship. We’re excited about that…There are 50 million people in this country that are watching Univision and connecting with the sport in the Spanish language and I’m not even remotely apologetic about that. It’s a big part of the league’s strategy.”

(On whether he was concerned with Chivas USA not having a local television partner…)

GARBER: “Concerned is probably not the right word. They need to get on local television. By the way, it’s a requirement so they have to work hard to get a deal done and they haven’t been able to that yet. But they’re going to need to get that done; it’s a requirement for them.”

(On whether the league was consulted about Landon Donovan’s leave of absence from the Galaxy…)

GARBER: “Consulted is probably not the right word. It’s more that we were communicated with. I spent some time with Landon and I think I talked about that during my State of the League [address] last week. I’m very sympathetic for what Landon is going through. That guy has had the responsibility of this sport on his shoulders for a longtime. He’s been an unbelievable ambassador for [MLS], for our national team, for every kid that loves the game.  If he needed to take a breather, that’s his right. He’s not getting paid during that time period, but I feel for what he’s going through and I’m really excited for when he comes back.”

(On whether there are minimum standards that MLS sets for its franchises in terms of attendance and investment…)

GARBER: “It’s less about minimum standards. It’s not a specific amount of money. Every market is different and every ownership group has different resources. AEG can spread it all around [with] 28,000 employees where Vergara doesn’t have that opportunity. But what we do, do is we work with all our clubs and understand what they’re spending, understand what resources they’re applying. And try to help them figure out decisions that they’re making are good decisions or whether not they should be different. The league is engaged in that process. I’ve seen across the twittersphere that the league should come in and do something [with Chivas USA]. Well, these are teams that are owned by individual investors, they’re governed by the league and what we can do is help them get better and try to work with them to understand the different challenges that they face. Listen, this is not the first team in Major League Soccer’s 18 years that we’ve had challenges with. They turn around.  We had this conversation in Kansas City a number of years ago and [Sporting Kansas City] is one of the banner franchises in our league and I would hold it up to almost any professional soccer team in the world. There was time where we’ve had similar discussions like this so we’ll get this right.” 

04 March 6:29 pm

The LA Galaxy’s back-to-back MLS Cup win was selected as the No. 2 Sports Moment of 2012 at the 8th Annual LA Sports Awards on Sunday.

The Galaxy’s MLS Cup win was second only to the Los Angeles Kings’ first-ever Stanley Cup victory over the New Jersey Devils in June. AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke was also presented with the  2012 Sports Executive of the Year award.

The LA Sports Awards are presented annually by the Los Angeles Sports Council, which celebrates the greatest sports moments of the year in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. 

Prime Ticket will televise the awards show on Sunday, March 10 at 9:30 p.m. PST.

04 March 5:12 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may have started their MLS regular season campaign with a bang and a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Sunday, but by Monday morning, they needed to shift their focus to Thursday’s CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal first leg against CS Herediano in Costa Rica on Thursday.

The CCL provides no shortage of challenges: whether it is hostile crowds, poorly maintained fields or inconsistent officiating, but over the past two years, the Galaxy have attempted to alleviate the effects of one challenge—lengthy international travel—by traveling on a chartered flight.

LA travel to Costa Rica on Tuesday, but rather than board a commercial flight for the five hour and a half hour journey, LA will travel via charter to San Jose, Costa Rica.  The conditions are far different than traveling on a commercial flight -- think no screaming babies in aisle seats -- but is traveling charter really a difference for the players than a cross-country trip in MLS?

“It cuts off two and a half hours of the travel if not more, just waiting around for petty little things to get done," said Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens. "It’s not bad, it’s definitely better than a cross-country flight to New York on a commercial flight. It shouldn’t be too bad; they take good care of us.”

Does that mean that they’ll be more rested once they touch down in Central America?

“As rested as you can be for being on a five and a half hour flight," Stephens admitted. "It’s a big difference than if we were flying commercial. I think we’re lucky…the way the [team] takes care of us is very good.”