METAPAN, El Salvador. -- Michael Stephens has made his mark on the LA Galaxy, but if Thursday’s 3-2 result against Isidro Metapán is any indication, he’s proving his value as a leader, on and off the field as well.
The 24-year-old midfielder impressed during LA’s 3-2 CONCACAF Champions League victory in his efforts to marshal the Galaxy against a technical Metapán midfield. It wasn’t always easy, as Metapán’s speed and ball skills posed a challenge for the Galaxy. The night appeared to get worse in the 45th minute when Stephens saw a goal negated in the 45th minute after referee Hugo Cruz ruled that it had been in the goalkeeper’s possession, before Stephens slotted it in.
Stephens did not sulk over the play, instead providing a calming force on the field as Metapán would tie the match midway through the second half. Perhaps the, it was fitting that Stephens would put LA ahead for good, slotting a Pat Noonan shot that bounced off the bar the back of the net.
The work was hardly over for Stephens, however, as the midfielder’s clearances and timely tackles proved instrumental in helping the Galaxy maintain the 3-2 result. After Thursday’s victory, Stephens admitted that while he is just two seasons removed from his rookie’s season, he’s embracing his role as a leader of LA’s second team.
“I have a position of leadership with this team. The rookies this year have done a good job and this team has a real good fighting spirit,” said Stephens. “I think we’ve had a pretty steady line up with the first team so this reserve team has been together for most of the year. I think that really helped us tonight because of the continuity and being used to playing with each other.”
One player who has been the recipient of Stephens’ leadership is Garcia, who admits that his former college opponent has played a key role in his development in his rookie year.
“The guy has an engine that never stops. When we have players like that, it makes it a lot easier all around for everyone else,” said Garcia. “I played against him growing up and in college so me and Mikey have known each other for a while, but like anyone else, he makes everything simple. He helps you and gives you pointers and he’s a guy with great leadership skills, so when you have players like that the leadership comes out and everything else is much easier.”
There will be no attendance cap for the LA Galaxy's Knockout Round match against the Vancouver Whitecaps next Thursday.
The club said on Friday that they have reached an agreement with Cal State University Dominguez Hills to prevent the type of attendance caps that we had seen at times in the past.
The Galaxy's complete statement is below...
“Thanks to an agreement with the University, there is no hard cap on attendance for Thursday’s game with the Whitecaps, though the club is currently only selling tickets in the stadium’s lower bowl, which holds a capacity of 20,000 fans. A decision about upper deck and grass berm tickets will be made only if that complete allotment of tickets is purchased.”
LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane was fined an undisclosed amount by MLS' Disciplinary Committee for his public criticism of the offcials following the 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend.
Keane was not the only player fined as FC Dallas defender Jair Benitez was also fined an embellishment on a call in the 65th minute of FCD's match against the Seattle Sounders on Oct. 21.
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METAPÁN, El Salvador - Jack McBean may just be 17-years-old, but the second year forward looked like a wily veteran on Thursday, scoring a pair of goals as the LA Galaxy defeated Isidro Metapan, 3-2 at the Estadio Jorge "Calero" Suarez in Metapan.
From the outset, McBean was a handful for the Salvadoran defenders, forcing Metapan to use an early substitution to get additional bodies on the towering teenager. After creating a few early chances, McBean finally broke through in the 38th minute as he nodded home a cross from Bryan Gaul for the game's first goal. McBean would strike again in the 62nd minute, as a play that began with a Marcelo Sarvas free kick, ended with a Bryan Gaul header sailing past Pat Noonan, to a waiting McBean for his second goal of the night. The brace puts McBean with the second highest goal total all-time for the Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League with three goals. McBean is just a one behind Juninho, who has four over the span of two years.
The teenager's performance left head coach Bruce Arena impressed as the Galaxy boss commented that after a slow start, McBean roared back with a strong performance in the game's last 55 minutes.
Below McBean gives his thoughts on the match...
"It was a real hard fought game. I thought for 90 minutes, we put it all out there on the field and I thought we did okay with the conditions," said McBean. "It was a hard field and one that were not used to playing on. There was a rough crowd and some calls didn't go our way, but we grinded through and go the win."
(On the club being strong mentally after the goal and braving tough conditions...)
MCBEAN: "Especially when we went up 2-0 and they were tying us both times, when we got that third goal, we all knew that we'd have to shut it down and not let that third goal in. We played Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico and that was a good test for us as well, but the more experience that we get, we play well as a group together, and I thought we deserved to win."
(On his development...)
MCBEAN: "I've been putting in a lot of hard work this year, and it’s finally paying off. I’m happy about it"
With a 3-2 victory over Isidro Metapán on Thursday and Chivas de Guadalajara’s 2-1 victory over Xelajú , the LA Galaxy clinched the fourth seed in the CONCACAF Champions League.
The LA Galaxy will face Costa Rican club Herediano in the Quarterfinals. The winner would take on either top-seeded Monterrey or eight seeded Xelaju in the semifinals.
A couple of notes from the result:
*Jack McBean tallied a pair of goals and has now tallied three CCL goals in his career, putting him second on LA’s all-time list just one behind Juninho, who has four.
*The Galaxy were incensed with a call in the 45th as referee Hugo Cruz took away a goal by Michael Stephens after the shot tapped in by Stephens was ruled to have been in possession of goalkeeper Mondragon.
*Stephens had the last laugh, tallying a goal in the 79th minute to give LA the victory.
*Bryan Gaul had a pair of assists on the night.
*The match will be the second time in three years that the Galaxy have faced a Costa Rican team as LA took on Alajuelense in the group stage during last year’s tournament.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador. -- When Bruce Arena opted to go with a Reserve-laden lineup for the LA Galaxy’s second CONCACAF Champions League match on Aug. 29 against the Puerto Rico Islanders, many in the media—including this reporter—were surprised and skeptical.
However, Arena’s move paid off as the Galaxy’s reserves crushed the Islanders 4-0. When LA’s next match rolled around, it was no surprise that the Galaxy opted for a similar lineup that again shined, this time earning a tough scoreless draw in Puerto Rico.
As the Galaxy look to boost improve their seeding for the CCL quarterfinals, Arena is once again expected to turn to his reserves as he looks to earn a victory against Isidro Metapán at the foreboding Estadio Jorge Calero Suárez. A place that has proved to be a house of horrors for opposing teams as Metapán’s last competitive defeat came against the Colorado Rapids in CCL group play on Sept. 29, 2011, a span of 26 matches.
Although the match promises to be a challenging one, the Galaxy reserves believe that they are up to the task.
“It’s important on a couple of different levels, one for seeding for the next round and it’s important that we get three points and put ourselves in a good position,” said forward Pat Noonan. “We’ve obviously advanced, but now is a good opportunity for guys to get their minutes and show something to the coaches so we can get a result. It’s going to be a difficult atmosphere, but I think we’ll be up for the challenge.
“It’s important; a lot of these guys have deserved it so getting these opportunities,” Noonan added. “The coaching staff has stuck with us so it’s been good for guys to get the experience in tough situations and I think that’s one of the reasons that we’ve been able to get results.”
SAN Salvador, El Salvador -- Ahead of tonight's game between the LA Galaxy and Isidro Metapán, check out my Three Points to the game, which can be found below.
Do you agree or disagree with my observations?
Share your thoughts below.
Ahead of tonight's LA Galaxy clash against Isidro Metapán and Guadalajara vs. Xelajú, here are the LA Galaxy's scenarios for the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League...
A Galaxy win over Metapán and Guadalajara win over Xelajú: The Galaxy will hold the fourth seed and face fifth seeded Herediano of Costa Rica.
A Galaxy win over Metapán and Xelajú win over Guadalajara by a margin less than five goals: The Galaxy would hold the fourth seed and face fifth seeded Xelajú.
A draw with Metapán and a Guadalajara win over Xelajú: The Galaxy would hold the sixth seed and face third seeded Seattle Sounders FC.
A draw with Metapán and a Xelajú win over Guadalajara: The Galaxy would hold the seventh seed and face second seeded Santos Laguna.
A Galaxy/Metapán draw and a Xelajú/Guadalajara draw: The Galaxy would hold the sixth seed and face third seeded Seattle Sounders FC
A Galaxy loss to Metapán and Guadalajara win over Xelajú: The Galaxy would hold the seventh seed and face second seeded Santos. LA could finish eighth and face top seeded Monterrey, provided Chivas makes up a +4 goal difference. Currently, LA at +7 with nine goals while Chivas is +3 with five goals.
A Galaxy loss to Metapán and Xelajú win over Guadalajara: The Galaxy would hold the eighth seed and face number one seeded Monterrey.
It was a banner week for the LA Galaxy Academy that featured each of LA's youth teams went unbeaten last weekend.
The week began with LA's Under-18's 7-0 demolition of Irvine-based youth club Strikers FC with Justin Dhillon tallying three goals, Oscar Sorto scoring two, while Paul Arriola and Jack McBean added one each. In the Under-16 match later in the evening, LA picked up a 3-2 victory over the Strikers with Christian Chavez, Steve Martinez, and Alex Ramos scoring for the Galaxy U-16 side.
In other action, LA's Under-15's defeated the Chivas USA U-15's, 5-1, LA's Under-14's crushed Arsenal FC 5-1. Adding to the Galaxy Academy's winning ways were the LA Under-13 side who defeated CZ Elite 4-0 and LA's Under-12's who beat Nomads and Pateadores by the score of 2-1.
But the victories weren't the only thing making news as a trio of players were making headlines of their own...
U-18 midfielder Paul Arriola has gone to spend the week training with Mexican side Club Tijuana for a week. Arriola announced the training stint on his Twitter account earlier in the week, but in a statement LA Galaxy Vice President Chris Klein told LA Galaxy Insider that U.S. youth international will be back with LA next week.
"Paul Arriola is someone that we are very high on in our Academy," said Klein. "He is simply training in Tijuana for the week and will be back with the Galaxy on Monday."
Meanwhile, Galaxy Under-16 players Rolando Munoz and Jorge Miranda each played a role in the United States' Under-17's 3-1 victory over Chile in a friendly in Argentina. The Under-17's are in Argentina participating in the Four Nations Tournament in Santa Fe, Argentina, where the U.S. won their first game of the tournament, 5-1 over Chile on Tuesday. Munoz and Miranda are back in action on Thursday with a Four Nations match against Argentina before closing the tour on Oct. 27 against the Paraguay U-17s.
Against the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend, the LA Galaxy enjoyed several good moments, but also a couple moments that were not as good as LA played to a 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Throughout Sunday's clash against San Jose, LA's defense did well to limit San Jose's wide play as well as their reliance on second balls, which have been an important part to the club's success this season. However, on San Jose's two goals-- both of which came on set pieces --the Galaxy defenders admitted that their marking could have been much cleaner. With Sunday's match against Seattle Sounders FC serving as the final tune up ahead of next Thursday's Western Conference Knockout Round against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, defender Omar Gonzalez believes that LA's must iron out any kinks as soon as possible.
“I think from here on out it’s just about worrying about ourselves and the way we show up to games and how we start halves. Last game we started the game very well, but then second half we didn’t start so well. I think there’s just crucial moments in the game where we have to have our heads right," said Gonzalez. "And that’s beginning of games, the beginning of the second half, every time there’s some kind of stoppage just be focused and be mentally prepared to make plays. I think if we worry about ourselves and how we go into the game and how we’re going to play, it’s going to be really hard for teams to beat us.”
(On preparing for a game where the result doesn’t have an impact...)
GONZALEZ: “I think first and foremost you never want to go out with that kind of mindset. You always want to go out to win a game and to put your best effort out there. So for us it’s all about fine-tuning things that we need to right before Thursday’s game. It’s a crucial game, because it’s getting close and after Sunday’s game it’s going to be a brand new season, the postseason, playoffs start and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”