PORTLAND, Ore. -- The LA Galaxy are on the ground in the Rose City ahead of Saturday's match against the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field.
Above is a photo snapped of Crater Lake from the air. The lake and the surrounding national park are about four and a half hours outside of Portland. The Rose City carries a special place in my heart as it was the site of my very first game as the LA Galaxy Insider last July.
On the ground here in Portland, both teams trained at JELD-WEN Field in preparation for Saturday's match.
There is plenty of news from the Timbers side as forward Frederic Piquionne is back from international duty with Martinque and may be available for the match against the Galaxy. If he is available, expect the forward to be a reserve as he played 80 minutes in Martinque's Gold Cup match against Panama on Thursday. Timbers boss Caleb Porter is quick to label is side the "underdogs" against the two-time defending Galaxy, but says that is side is expected to be motivated for Saturday.
In the latest edition of View from the Booth, Cobi Jones and Joe Tutino analyze the LA Galaxy match against the Portland Timbers.
Check it out below...
CARSON, Calif. – Following the LA Galaxy’s final training session at StubHub Center before departing for Saturday’s match against the Portland Timbers, LA head coach Bruce Arena offered his thoughts on the team’s opponents and a host of other topics.
Arena touches on Portland’s turf field, the continued improvement of Robbie Rogers, and a number of other issues.
His quotes are below…
(On facing the Portland Timbers…)
ARENA: “Good team. They've had a good year to date.”
(On what the Timbers do best…)
ARENA: “They've got the best goalkeeper in the league. [Donovan Ricketts] makes big saves and keeps them in games. He’s probably responsible for half their wins this year. They don’t win many games. They've got seven wins and nine ties. I think that Ricketts is responsible for half of those results.”
(On Portland missing several key players this week…)
ARENA: “Does anybody playing a violin when we're missing players? Who cares? You have to get out there & play."
(On how hard it is to play on JELD-WEN’s Turf Field…)
ARENA: “This is the best one available. The other ones in the league are really atrocious and they shouldn't be allowed. This is a good field. The fields in Seattle, Vancouver, and New England are not good fields, this is a good field…It is the best. It’s a good field. Technically, I don’t know where that field comes from, but it has been the best one. It’s a good field. They've made it a little bit bigger as well, so no excuses there.”
(On how LA’s winning streak has helped the team’s morale…)
ARENA: “We'll see as we train tomorrow and continue to go.”
(On the play of Robbie Rogers…)
ARENA: “It’s been improving. It’s been a little slow, but over the last couple of weeks, we've seen him make some good progress. We're hopeful that it continues.”
(On the hoopla when he joined and whether it was a factor…)
ARENA: “It’s never been an issue with us. That’s why he’s here. The issue is whether he can help us on the field.”
(On what Rogers still needs to do to improve…)
ARENA: “Just get fitter, get his touch better, and everything. He’s now in position where he’s coming out of preseason so he has to catch up to the rest of the group. We've seen that even with a player like [Landon Donovan], it took Landon a long period of time to get up to speed with the rest of the team, and that’s been the case for Robbie as well.”
(On whether Rogers is at 75 percent…)
ARENA: “I never know how you do that with the numbers and all. Like scales of whatever, I never quite get it. I think that he’s a little bit away from where he needs to be, but he’s getting closer.”
CARSON, Calif. – Parity in MLS is nothing new, and despite the LA Galaxy’s early season struggles, the club is in striking distance of the top spot in MLS. However, as close as LA are to the league summit, they’re just as close to falling out of the five Western Conference playoff berths.
Currently just seven points separate the Western Conference’s best club Real Salt Lake (34 points) from the sixth team in the West, the Colorado Rapids (27 points). LA sits in the thick of the race just four behind RSL, but three ahead of the Rapids.
“It shows that there’s a lot of parity and no one is running away with it in this league, but you could look at it in two ways—yes, we’re four points out, but we’re also a couple points of being out of the playoffs,” said defender Todd Dunivant. “It could go either way. It’s encouraging on one hand, but we know that there’s a lot of heat coming from behind us as well. Seattle has games in hand and other teams have games in hand as well. It’s close all the way around.”
Should a couple of results go LA’s way this week then the Galaxy will inch ever closer to the top of the table. If LA defeats Portland on Saturday and second place FC Dallas defeat RSL then the Galaxy would sit just a single point back of the conference lead.
“It could go that way or we could be down seven again,” says Dunivant. “It’s tight and it’s going to be tight. We just want to keep collecting points and keep moving up the table. Obviously, the top three is our ultimate goal. We’d love to [have] the Supporters’ Shield, I think that anyone would, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We just want to keep moving up the table, keep getting points, and we’ll talk about that stuff as we get down to the last few games of the season.”
Dunivant admits that while he does watch the standings, he won’t allow LA’s placement to distract him or the team.
“We've been through it enough and we know that top three is the most important thing,” said Dunivant. “Obviously, seeding matters, but at this point we're just over half way through the season and there’s such a long way to go that to talk about that stuff would be foolish at this point.”
CARSON, Calif. – Former Chivas USA midfielder Laurent Courtois continued to train with the LA Galaxy and following Thursday's session, Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena offered his take on what he's seen from the versatile Frenchman.
“Nothing that I don’t already know, I've seen him for a number of years with Chivas,” said Arena. “He’s a good player.”
As for whether or not Courtois could earn a deal with the Galaxy, Arena said that no decision has been made right now.
“It remains to be seen. We’ll see if this continues,” Arena said. “It is open right now and at some point, it’ll end with a determination.”
Montreal's Marco Di Vaio defeats Robbie Keane in MLS All-Star "In the Game" race for final spot on Fan XI
Montreal Impact forward Marco Di Vaio defeated LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane in the AT&T MLS All-Star ‘In the Game’ Challenge’ to lock down the final spot in the MLS All-Star Fan XI, the league announced on Thursday.
Fans utilizing the Impact forward scored 73,838 goals through FIFA Soccer 13, which outpaced the other 26 eligible players. According to the release, Keane finished second to Di Vaio with 69,797 goals.
In total, more than 480,000 goals were scored by fans.
Remember, this doesn’t mean that Keane can’t make the All-Star team as he can still be selected through player voting or as a commissioner’s selection.
A former Academy coach with Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake, Muñoz has also spent time as an assistant coach with Chivas and the U.S. Under-15 national team.
On Wednesday, I spoke to Muñoz about his new position and how his move to the Galaxy came about.
My conversation with the new LA Galaxy Academy coach is below…
LA GALAXY INSIDER: (On how his move from Chivas USA materialized…)
MUNOZ: “[Galaxy Academy Director Pete Vagenas] approached Chivas to begin to have conversations with me, and obviously, Chivas granted permission to have those conversations. I knew Pete from years of playing [in MLS], but when he gave me a phone call and we met, the reality is that the opportunity was too good to pass up. I’m very excited about Pete being the Academy Director. I loved his vision for this club and where he wants to take the academy, especially with the full support of [Galaxy head coach and general manager] Bruce Arena and [LA Technical Director] Jovan Kirovski. It was a no-brainer after that.”
LAGI: (On what he might have gained from working with Chivas…)
MUNOZ: “When I originally came over from Salt Lake, I was able to work with the first team under former [Chivas USA] coaches Robin Fraser and Greg Vanney for almost two years. That experience at the first team level and being able to bring it back to the kids, such as what it takes to be a professional, is the biggest thing that I got out of it.”
LAGI: (On what the past season was like with Chivas…)
MUNOZ: “100 percent, this [past season] was the hardest challenge of my young coaching career. My number one priority was to protect my players and the academy players from everything that was happening on the outside, and just making sure that we focused on our objectives and goals to further their development as we had done over the past two years. I think that I did a pretty good job of that, but at the same time, it was very challenging.”
LAGI: (You say that you protected the players, what does that mean?)
MUNOZ: “I just told them to try and stay focused, and not worry about what is happening with the first team or Academy Director [Teddy Chronopoulos] getting fired. [I told them] just to make sure that they were focused on their own development and our team. For the most part, we did a good job by getting to the playoffs and winning the Southwest conference. We fell short [of an Academy title], but I think for the most part, everyone is going to walk away a better person and better player.”
LAGI: (On how the Academy will change under Peter Vagenas and how he plans to help…)
MUNOZ: “Listen, first and foremost, our number one objective is to produce players for the first team, and produce players for Bruce’s eyes—players that can jump right in immediately and contribute. Everything that Bruce does with his staff will be implemented all the way down to the Academy. At the same time, our academy teams need to have an identity for themselves as well. Pete’s vision is to create this top-to-bottom unification of style, systems and all that kind of stuff. Like I said, our number one objective is producing not only a good player for the first team, but also a good human being.”
LAGI: (On his thoughts on the Galaxy Academy after being an outsider…)
MUNOZ: “One of the biggest reasons why I came over was because the Galaxy, in my opinion, is the best and biggest club in the country with the best talent pool in Southern California. It’s only a matter of time before we’re going to blow this thing up and really become the dominant force in the Development Academy out of all the clubs in MLS.”
LAGI: (On how he changes the Galaxy’s reputation of a “recruiting” academy…)
MUNOZ: “Listen, it’s a process. It starts all the way to our affiliate clubs with our younger kids, U-12’s, and making it go all the way up. From what I hear and what I see, our 10 and 11-year-olds that we’re starting through this system are very exciting. Our U-14’s are one of the best teams in the country, so listen, it’s a process and it’s going to take time to see the fruits of our labor. But we’re starting to scratch the surface of what the potential could be.”
LAGI: (On any interesting players that he sees on the roster…)
MUNOZ: “Haji Wright is a kid who has been part of the U-15 national team and a kid that I got to work with on national team camps. He really has a bright future and I would say that he’s the most exciting player that I can think of right now.”
LAGI: (On whether he’ll stay active in the U.S. Under-15 National Team…)
MUNOZ: “That’s only a part time job with camps and tournaments. As far as I know, I’ll continue to work with that. The club is very supportive of me working with the national team, so that will continue.”
LAGI: (On his growth over the past few years…)
MUNOZ: “Making this move finally is what I’ve always envisioned, what I’ve always wanted, and what always strived for in my career. Coming to the Galaxy there is going to be more growth in my development as a coach. Whether it’s working with the U-23’s or the reserves or other opportunities to be a part of the first team down the road, was very intriguing for my move. It’s been a rapid increase in my career and I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’ve had a lot of important mentors as well. I’ve just tried to learn from all the positive and negative experiences, and I know that will continue here as well.”
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy announced on Wednesday that former LA player Mike Muñoz had joined the Galaxy Academy coaching staff.
Muñoz has coached at the Academy level with Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake. He has also spent time as an assistant coach with Chivas USA and the U.S. U-15 team. It has been reported that Muñoz will coach the club’s Under-16 team, but there has been no official announcement on his placement in the staff yet.
“Mike Munoz is an accomplished young coach with a proven track record and we are excited to be adding him to our coaching staff,” said LA Galaxy Academy Director Peter Vagenas said in a statement. “The Galaxy Academy will continue to help nurture and produce players for our first team and Mike, who has already shown the ability to develop young talent, will play a major role in that endeavor.”
A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Muñoz played three seasons in MLS over the course of four years with Chivas USA and the Galaxy.
“It is an honor to be a part of this club and to work with the LA Galaxy Academy,” said Muñoz, who ended his playing a career and began his coaching career with the Galaxy. “The primary reason that I decided to join the staff is Peter Vagenas and the rest of his coaching staff. I have enormous amount of respect for Pete as a player and as a person and I know he is the right man for this job to move the program forward. I’m very excited to get started and helping to continue to grow the Galaxy Academy.”
The 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game is heading to Portland
MLS announced on Wednesday that Portland's JELD-WEN Field will host the 2014 MLS All-Star Game, marking the first time that the game has been played in Cascadia.
“The Portland Timbers and their passionate fans have certainly earned the honor of hosting the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game,” said Commissioner Don Garber in a statement. “This match will showcase to an international audience the incredible devotion to the game in the Pacific Northwest that serves as one of the most important stories for our league.”
The game is still a year away, but are you planning to make the trip to Portland for the match?
Share your thoughts below.
Landon Donovan added another page to the U.S. Soccer history book on Tuesday when he became the first U.S. player to tally 50 goals and 50, after tallying one goal and two assists during the Americans 6-1 victory over Belize in the opening match of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Donovan notched his 50th assist when he fired a pinpoint cross to Stuart Holden that gave the Americans a 4-1 lead in the 58th minute. The Galaxy midfielder notched his 51st assist just 14 minutes later when he provided a helper on Michael Orozco Fiscal’s finish. Donovan wasn’t the only star on the night as San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski scored his first hat trick of his international career with three goals in the first half.
In the 78th minute, Donovan put the capper on the night for the Americans with a penalty kick goal that gives him 52 goals and 51 assists in his 146 appearances with the U.S. National Team.
The U.S. returns to action on July 13 against Cuba at Rio Tinto Stadium in their second match in Group C.