TORONTO -- We're only a few hours until kick off of the LA Galaxy's first MLS regular season road game of the season against Toronto FC.
Below are my links, matchups to watch and predicted lineups...
*By far the biggest story of the week was Landon Donovan's return to the Galaxy. He returned on Tuesday and his teammates have been pleased with him so far. But just when he returns to the field remains a question mark. However, Donovan did discuss on a number of topics from mental health to Robbie Keane taking over the captain's armband.
*Meanwhile, Omar Gonzalez's return from international duty was also important news and he talks about his rise through the U.S. ranks and facing Toronto FC.
*Jack McBean enjoyed a strong game against the Colorado Rapids last week, but could not find the back of the net, this week, he believes that he can find a goal.
*My LAGalaxy.com preview focusing on Todd Dunivant facing off with old Stanford teammate Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen.
*Speaking of Nelsen, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena offered his own thoughts on the new TFC boss.
*Lastly, my Three Points to the game.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
JACK MCBEAN vs. DANNY CALIFF
A battle of youth against experience. McBean created countless chances against Colorado, but he'll face a stronger test -- quite literally -- in the physical Califf. Both quite physical on and off the ball, whoever can keep up the pressure will win the battle in the penalty area.
OMAR GONZALEZ vs. ROBERT EARNSHAW
Earnshaw has scored all three of Toronto FC's goals this season, but even though two have come off penalty kicks, his speed and guile make him a pest for opposing defenses. Gonzalez is likely to be the target on Saturday as the Welsh international looks to force Gonzalez into turnovers on the defensive end.
TODD DUNIVANT vs. JOHN BOSTOCK
Earshaw may have the goals, but Bostock has been one of TFC's true dangermen this year. With considerable pace down the right flank, he has sparked many of Toronto's counterattacking opportunities. Positioning will be key for Dunivant to put the Englishman under wraps.
Cudicini; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Dunivant; Franklin, Sarvas, Juninho, Clark; Magee, McBean
TORONTO – Todd Dunivant will take on his old Stanford teammates on Saturday in Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen.
The pair were teammates with the Cardinal before Nelsen opted to pursue his professional career. I spoke to Dunivant about Nelsen in this preview.
As for how he believes Nelsen's TFC side will play, Dunivant said the following:
DUNIVANT: “I don’t think they’ll sit back especially at home. They’re going to try and come out at us and put pressure on us right away.”
Meanwhile Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena offered these thoughts on Nelsen.
ARENA: “I think that in time, he’s going to be a real good coach if he’s not one already. He’s a bright guy and very passionate about the game and has all the tools to be a good coach and manager.”
TORONTO – The LA Galaxy landed in Toronto on Friday ahead of Saturday’s match with Toronto FC, but one player that did not make the trip is captain Robbie Keane.
Keane returned to Southern California earlier this week to continue treatment. Last week, Keane pulled out of Ireland’s World Cup qualifying match against Austria with a calf strain.
During the Irishman's international absence, Todd Dunivant took over the captain's armband against the Colorado Rapids last week.
WASHINGTON – Omar Gonzalez is back from a successful stint with the U.S. national team and has declared himself ready to participate in Saturday’s match against Toronto FC.
Gonzalez rejoined the Galaxy on Wednesday evening and immediately participated in two training sessions with the club ahead of their journey to Toronto on Friday. Following Thursday’s session Gonzalez told reporters that he felt “sharp” after his time with the U.S. squad, which included two 90 minute performances against Costa Rica and Mexico.
The Galaxy center back’s rise to U.S. national team regular has been impressive, but Gonzalez asserts that he’ll need to continue to perform for LA to keep his ascension going.
“It’s great. I’ve been ready for that level for a while now. It’s great to be in the mix and it’s great to get that kind of recognition, but that’s not what I’m looking for,” said Gonzalez. “I’m looking to be on the team and help win games and do whatever I can to be a part of that process and enjoying every single moment, staying humble then coming back to my club, the Galaxy and putting my head down and working hard to continue my success.”
But Gonzalez readily admits that the rise has done wonders for his confidence.
“It definitely feels good having that kind of recognition, But I just want to continue that and help the Galaxy win more championships,” the defender said.
One thing that Gonzalez admits helped him greatly was his performance his start against Honduras last month that steeled him for Azteca.
“I think Honduras, that atmosphere is as tough as it gets. With the humidity the field, the heat, and the fans, that was a great way to start off my career with the national team," said Gonzalez. "I think I learned a lot in that game. I felt a lot more prepared going into Azteca."
As for TFC, Gonzalez expects that the Galaxy will face a challenge against a re-energized Toronto FC side that he identifies as an organized squad.
"I haven’t really kept up with the beginning of the season, but I know that they beat KC and that’s a great start for them coming off two not so great years,” said Gonzalez. “They’re starting off on the right foot this year and it’s good to see. I’m looking for a good sharp and intense game.”
The LA Galaxy are traveling north of the border on Friday ahead of this weekend's match against Toronto FC.
Check my Three Points to the match below...
Agree or disagree with my points?
Share your thoughts below.
Courtesy of LAGalaxy.com's video department the LA Galaxy break down Saturday's match against Toronto FC.
Watch the video below...
Understandably so, much of the focus around Landon Donovan’s return has focused on when he’ll suit up again for the LA Galaxy and the U.S. national team, but during Donovan’s conference call with reporters, the Galaxy forward spoke about his absence in a different way.
When asked during a media conference call about whether he spoke to Sports Psychologists or specialists during his absence, Donovan eloquently discussed the reception that he received for his decision as well as the rationale behind his decision to take a break from the game.
“I speak to many people often that I love and care about and love and care about me often. Not just during this time, but I’m constantly speaking to people to try to be a better person and be a better player. Unfortunately, in this society and many other societies, we have a sort of stigma that being in a difficult mental place is not acceptable. We should pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and fight through it and it’s a little peculiar to me that whole idea, if someone is physically hurt we’re okay with letting them take the time to come back, but if someone is in a difficult place mentally, we’re not okay with allowing them to take the time that they need to come back.
“Hopefully, there’s a few people out in the world who can relate to this and can somewhat be inspired. That doesn’t mean that everybody should be lazy and take as much time as they need and do whatever they want in life. Obviously, there’s points in life that are difficult, but if you’re really at a place where struggling mentally then we need to be more compassionate and understanding of people in all walks of life and understand that they might need time away too. That was certainly the case with me. I had the added physical element where my body was exhausted, but if I didn’t take this time off, I would have been useless to everybody this year in a professional setting and probably a personal setting as well. I absolutely needed it and I’m very glad that I did it.”
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WASHINGTON— With Robbie Keane still dealing with an injury and Landon Donovan still not completely fit, it seems likely that Jack McBean will retain his starting position against Toronto FC on Saturday.
McBean started alongside fellow Homegrown product Jose Villarreal and went 90 minutes in LA’s 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids last week, but while he terrorized Colorado to the tune of four shots on frame, he was unable to get a goal. Although McBean could not find the back of the net, the 18-year-old asserts that he feels ready if called upon.
“I got a good 90 in Saturday, I would have liked to finish some of my chances, but I’m still feeling confident and I’ll be ready to go,” said McBean.
However, that does not mean that McBean has not forgotten about those missed chances against Colorado and the teenager asserts that he'll be able to turn those shots into goals in the future.
“I need to focus a little bit more in the final third and get one for myself,” said McBean. “I’ll try to hit it first time and be sharper in the final third,” said McBean. “I think I was a little bit tentative and just wanted to hit it on target rather than pick a spot and go for it all.”
WASHINGTON -- Landon Donovan re-joined the LA Galaxy earlier this week, but now that he has re-joined his team, the question remains: when will he return to the field?
After joining the team on Tuesday, Donovan has participated in three training sessions and has already drawn rave reviews from his Galaxy teammates, particularly for his sharpness and skill despite missing the club's preseason and first five matches.
“He’s been doing work still," said defender Sean Franklin. "He’s been working out so it’s not like he’s coming in like it is preseason. He’s not 90 minute fit, but he can definitely make a difference for this team.”
“He seems like he didn’t take any time off.," said forward Jack McBean. "He seems fit, he’s still as good with the ball as he was before. He’s very impressive so far, that’s for sure.”
As for Donovan, he affirms that there is no set date for his return, but admits that he was keeping fit during his absence.
"I actually feel really good. My body feels as good as its felt in a long time. I've been very fortunate and blessed to be able to get my heart and [cardiovascular] fitness back quickly every time that we have an offseason or a break," said Donovan. "Now it's just about getting the soccer part back. That part, I've been doing my whole life, so it's kind of like riding a bike so it comes back pretty quickly. Once Bruce feels that those two pieces are meshed and ready and I feel like I'm ready then we'll get back on the field and start playing."
But could one possibility be the Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series against Monterrey, which begins on April 3 at The Home Depot Center?
"I could potentially see myself playing some role. I think it might be a little early to say I'm going to be playing significant minutes, but you never know," said Donovan. "Obviously, I understand the importance of this tournament to our club, to our team, and to our organization and if I feel could and I could contribute then I want to contribute."
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WASHINGTON – Landon Donovan has returned to the LA Galaxy, but for the first time since the 2007-2008 MLS regular season, he will not serve as the club’s captain. That role has been taken over by Irish forward Robbie Keane, who has donned the armband since the outset of preseason after serving as Donovan’s vice-captain during the 2012 season.
Keane captained the Galaxy during their first four matches of the season, while defender Todd Dunivant took over the armband while the Irishman was away on International duty during their 1-0 victory against the Colorado Rapids last week.
Finally back in the fold, Donovan threw his support behind the club’s new captain while also offering further thoughts during a conference call with reporters on Thursday.
“Robbie’s been as influential player as any over the last year and a half. He is justifiably earned the respect of all of us, all of his teammates and the entire club,” Donovan said. “I love being the captain of any team that I play for, I thoroughly enjoy it, I’m also very aware and Bruce made it very clear that this would be the case so there is no surprise here. At the end of the day, whether I’m wearing the armband or not, I’m going to do the same things and I’m going to act the same way.”
“I’d be lying to say that I don’t want to wear the armband, I’ve always wanted to wear the armband or both the Galaxy and the U.S., but my actions as of late, could be perceived as not captain-like by some,” Donovan added. “Although, I would argue that making sure that you’re mentally engaged is being a leader and taking the time away that you need is being a leader so that you can contribute in a positive way. But I understand how that’s not always perceived that way. I will support the team in any way that I can, if at any point when Robbie is out, Bruce wants to make me the captain, I will be proud to wear it and I will continue to do the things that I’ve done.”
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