CARSON, Calif. – Three weeks after joining the LA Galaxy as the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Charlie Rugg returned to the training field for the first time on Monday.
The first round pick has been sidelined with a nagging groin injury since the start of the preseason and has been limited almost entirely to fitness work since joining the club last month.
“Charlie had his first day back on the field,” said head coach Bruce Arena on Monday. “He did some of the exercises and we’re going to try to get him doing full training tomorrow.”
The former Boston College forward is expected to play a role as an outside midfielder in his rookie season. Although he still has a ways to go before he can contribute on the field, Rugg admits that he’s feeling better each passing day.
“It feels good, I feel like I haven’t touched a ball in three weeks so it definitely feels good. They have me getting back into it slowly and I don’t want to jump back into everything too fast," said Rugg. "I did the warm-up with the team, I did the passing drills with them as well and if they would have had keep-away then I would have done that as well, but they went into a small-sided game and I was doing ball work on the side.
“I’m just taking it day by day and I’m just working towards that day that I feel 100 percent again,” Rugg added. “I haven’t felt a 100 percent in a while with my other injuries but I felt pretty good today.”
The LA Galaxy Academy Under-16's and Under-18's picked up a pair of wins this weekend against Rancho Cordova's San Juan Soccer Club.
The Galaxy U-16's began the weekend in a winning way by defeating SJSC's U-16 group 3-1. The scoring began with an own goal from SJSC's Elan Koenig, but San Juan equalized on a Claudio Celis goal in the 42nd minute. But the Galaxy would pull ahead for good with two unanswered goals from Alex Ramos in the 68th and Haji Wright in the 79th.
Meanwhile, LA's U-18's won a thriller on Sunday as they defeated SJSC, 3-2. The match was a exciting one with recent UCLA commit Nate Smith, Raul Mendiola and Jaime Villarreal -- the younger brother of Jose Villarreal -- tallying goals for the Galaxy while Padraic McCullaugh and Kenneth Day scored for SJSC.
Next weekend, both teams head to Canada to take on the Vancovuer Whitecaps FC Academy on Feb. 16.
The U.S. Under-20's are looking to qualify for the U-20 World Cup for the first time since 2009 and on Sunday, they began their preparation in ernest with a 2-1 friendly win against Jamaica.
The team including LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Jose Villarreal and Academy product Javan Torre are currently in Puebla, Mexico for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship which runs from Feb. 18 to March 2. The Yanks are in Group A with Haiti and Costa Rica.
Yanks Abroad writer Brian Scarietta tweeted Sunday's result below...
The US U-20 team defeated Jamaica 2-1 today and the US goals were scored by Jose Villarreal and Benji Joya
— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 11, 2013
CARSON, Calif. -- LAGalaxy.com has provided a postgame reaction video from Friday's 1-0 LA Galaxy preseason defeat to Real Salt Lake.
Below is a recap complete with thoughts from midfielders Michael Stephens and Juninho...
CARSON, Calif. – Michael Stephens made his preseason debut on Friday in the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake. The fourth-year midfielder had been sidelined with a right ankle injury for the past week.
Stephens entered the game at the start of the second half, playing 45 minutes —27 of those alongside another Galaxy player making his preseason debut: Juninho—in central midfield.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a big field; I’ve been in Chicago [during the offseason] playing small-sided [games] so it was a little bit different so I got through it alright,” said Stephens. “My ankle feels really strong actually; better than when I came in.”
Throughout the match, both teams struggled to generate a real attacking presence on a day that was marred by wet and windy conditions. Despite the result, after preseason victories over the U.S. U-17’s and the USL PRO’s Los Angeles Blues, Stephens felt that the rise in the level of competition benefited the Galaxy.
“I thought it could have been better. I think that they had the majority of the play. We didn’t give up too many chances, but we also didn’t create enough, but it’s our first game against an MLS team and we have a long way to go so we’ll get better,” he said. “The last two [preseason] games, everyone looks really good and feels really good, but that’s not the competition that we’re going to be playing against so it’s good play against teams that are challenging.”
The preseason debut wasn’t the only benefit for Stephens—and the rest of the Galaxy—as he got a chance to catch up with former LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who recently joined RSL on trial.
“I’m happy to see him,” said Stephens. “I’m glad that he got picked up and settled because he’s a friend of mine so I’m happy to see him and it’s good to see him playing.”
CARSON, Calif. – We know that Landon Donovan will return, but when he does is still a question mark.
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters on LA’s opening day of the preseason nearly three weeks ago that LA’s captain would return to action this year, but when that is still a question mark. However, Arena told Joe Tutino’s Galaxy All-Access Podcast that Donovan will return over the next couple of months.
"We expect to have Landon back in the near future, and by that I mean I would hope over the next couple of months we have that whole thing settled and he's back on the field playing for the Galaxy,” Arena said.
After LA’s 1-0 defeat to RSL, Arena touched on the matter admitting that he remains in contact with the Galaxy captain and even spoke to him earlier on Friday. Although there is no update just yet, the LA boss is confident that LA can persevere no matter when Donovan returns.
“When he comes back, he comes back,” Arena told reporters earlier in the week. “I'm not going to worry about it. We're going to have a team ready to play come March 3, whether Landon's here or not. ...I don't know how long it's going to be. But we're going about our business. You lose players all the time: injuries, suspensions, [World Cup] qualifiers. A lot of things impact your ability to have all your players on the field at the same time. If this is another example, then so be it. And we'll get on with it.”
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy dropped their first game on the preseason in a 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake on Friday in the club’s third preseason match of the year.
The match was marred by wet and windy conditions that played an impact on the style of play. After much of the game was stuck in the center of the park, Salt Lake went up 1-0 in the 27th minute when winger Ned Grabavoy received a ball from Kenny Mansaly and slotted a beautiful strike past goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. LA nearly leveled the score in the 41st minute when a give-and-go between Rafael Garcia and Robbie Keane put Garcia free on goal, but his chance was saved by RSL’s Nick Rimando.
In the second half, a familiar face returned to the Home Depot Center as Josh Saunders – who is currently on a trial with RSL – took over for Rimando in net. Despite having more of the possession in the second half, LA challenged Saunders only once in the 79th when Jack McBean’s header was saved by the former Galaxy goalkeeper.
More notes from the scrimmage below…
*LA lined up in the following lineup at the start of the match:
*Garcia was by far the most active player on the field as the second-year midfielder combined well with Sarvas and showed a willingness to go forward.
*LA made two changes in the second half as McBean replaced Mike Magee and Michael Stephens replaced Hector Jimenez.
*Stephens was making his preseason debut after missing LA’s previous two matches with an ankle injury.
*By the 65th minute, LA was in the following lineup:
*The match was Juninho’s preseason debut and the Brazilian told reporters that he is at “85 percent” *fitness at the moment and hopes to start in the club’s next preseason match.
*RSL lined up in the following lineup at the start of the first half
*At the start of the second, Josh Saunders took the net for RSL. A photo of him in action is below…
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) February 8, 2013
*By the second half RSL was in the following lineup…
*Justin Davis is an RSL trialist, who spent last season with the NASL's Minnesota Stars FC while Benji Lopez is an RSL Academy player.
LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal was among the 18-players called up by U.S. Under-20 head coach Tab Ramos for the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico, but before he left, I caught up with him for this Insider Interview
Check out the video of my interview with Villarreal below.
How do you think the U.S. will perform? Expect Villarreal to lead them to the U-20 World Cup?
Share your thoughts below.
LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Jose Villarreal and Academy product Javan Torre have been named to U.S. Under-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos' 18-man squad for the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico.
Villarreal is one of 11 professional players on the roster, five of which ply their trade in MLS. Meanwhile, Torre, who is recently finished his freshman season at UCLA is one of five players still enrolled in college. Also on the roster is former Galaxy Academy star Mario Rodriguez, who is currently with 1. FC Kaiserslautern in Germany.
The U.S. find themselves in Group A with Costa Rica and Haiti and open the tournament against the Caribbean nation on Feb. 18. The top four teams from the tournament, which runs Feb. 18 to March 3 will advance to the U-20 World Cup in Turkey later this year.This U.S. team is loaded with expectation after the highly-touted 2011 group failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup after falling to Guatemala in the Semifinal round.
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Cody Cropper (Southampton FC; Maple Grove, Minn.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Zackary Steffen (FC DELCO Academy; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (5) : Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (C.D. Guadalajara; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.)
CARSON, Calif. -- An ankle injury has kept LA Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens on the shelf for the club's opening pair of preseason matches, but on Friday, Stephens is set to return to the field as LA take on Real Salt Lake.
Stephens returned to full training on Wednesday and appeared sharp in finishing drills as he practiced with the club's forward and midfield players. In Stephens' absence, second-year midfielder Rafael Garcia has performed well alongside Marcelo Sarvas with LA's starting XI, but after watching his teammates at the start of the preseason, he is ready to return to the field.
"I missed the last two games with my ankle injury and [Wednesday] was my first day back so I'm excited about it," said Stephens."I got in a tackle with [Rafael Garcia] and he stepped on the inside [of his ankle], I had MRIs and everything, but it was nothing so I'll back...obviously, you always want to play, but it's better to miss some time now then having [the injury] happen again in three weeks."
The match will be Stephens' first since the 2012 postseason, but the 23-year-old midfielder isn't going to let his excitement get the best of him.
"It'll be fun to finally playing in another game so I'm definitely a little bit anxious," said Stephens. "But it's a long process and it'll be a long preseason."