CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening to snap a four-game winless streak, but although the scoreline was flattering, LA had plenty of respect for their dispatched opponent.
Prior to Marcelo Sarvas’ goal in the 27th minute, Sporting had strung together a 545 minute shutout streak, which is the fifth best in MLS history. Even after the goal, the game remained a back-and-forth affair with both sides testing one another until Landon Donovan scored the dagger in the 74th minute of play to put the game out of reach.
While the season may just be in its infancy, based on Saturday’s performance and Sporting’s early success, Donovan admitted that he would not be surprised to see Sporting in the thick of things come playoff time.
“They’re a very good team. I would guess that team would look different if they hadn't played in New York on Wednesday and traveled here,” Donovan told reporters. “There’s no question they didn’t have everything they normally do, but they still put up a good fight. They’re a good team and I wouldn't be surprised if they end up coming out of the East.”
Donovan also had plenty of praise for Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi, who many consider to be the heir apparent to the Galaxy veteran with the U.S. National Team.
“I think Graham has been terrific. Aside from the on the field stuff, I think that he’s handled everything really well,” said Donovan referring to the pressure Zusi has faced. “I know that he gets asked a lot about all this stuff and I said to him after the game that he’s doing a great job of handling it. You could tell tonight that he wasn't completely on his game, but he has moments where he has something special.
“I think that he’s done a great job, he’s someone that deserves to be where he’s at and I look forward to continuing to battle back and forth with him and continue to push each other.”
For a look at how Sporting Kansas City reacted to their 2-0 defeat to the LA Galaxy, a quote sheet is provided below.
Check it out...
SPORTING KANSAS CITY HEAD COACH PETER VERMES
On how he viewed his team’s performance:
“I actually thought up until the goal we were actually pretty good. Look, it’s a handball. It doesn’t get called and it breaks us a little bit right at that point. Now here we are, we already have the fatigue aspect to deal with and now we’re trying to chase the game after a goal gets scored based on an easy call by the referee and it doesn’t happen. At that point we go in at halftime trying to chase the game a little bit, coming back in the second half. Obviously the fatigue and the goal opened us up a little bit more. The second goal doesn’t really doesn’t mean anything at the end of the day based on the fact that we were trying to push forward to get back in the game at that point. It’s a tough road trip the way we had to travel.”
On the Galaxy’s pressing style of play:
“I think they were good tonight. They were good from front to back. I thought their energy was good. I will say though that we turned them over quite a few times in that first 30 minutes up until that goal. Then we started chasing and it sits in your mind you get a little fatigued and now all of a sudden we start to open up and I still think up to that point we were pretty decent and being away from home and trying to play against somebody is who we are and we’re going to keep doing it.”
On Sporting’s shutout streak coming to a close:
“I really don’t care personally about the shutout streak. All I care is that we have a clean sheet at the end of the game, we scored one or two then obviously we get the points. It’s a shame in a game like this because I think they’re two good teams, for a goal to be scored that way. You have center ref, you got linesman and you got fourth official and the fourth official is right there I mean he had a great view of it and for that not to happen between the three of them is a failure in the system. Those guys made a mistake for sure. I spoke to Ricardo but at that point, what are you going to do? I wish we had instant replay, that’d be great.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY GOALKEEPER JIMMY NIELSEN
On that Galaxy’s attack:
“Well, they were definitely better than we were today. It’s disappointing from my point of view with our performance today. Huge game, big game, in my opinion two of the better teams in the league and we didn’t perform at all. Overall, credit to LA, they were better than we were today.”
On Sporting’s shutout streak coming to a close:
“It’s disappointing the way we performed, that’s what’s disappointing. Not the shutout [streak ending]. Big games like this, you just don’t play bad like we did today. Right now I’m extremely disappointed and sad that we couldn’t perform better on a fantastic night like this, full stadium, two big teams, very disappointed.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY DEFENDER MATT BESLER
On the physical nature of the game:
“LA is a great team so we knew coming in that it was going to be a battle. It was a dogfight, there was a lot of physical play especially in the middle of the field tonight.”
On the Galaxy’s attack:
“We knew coming in it was going to be a difficult challenge. LA is one of the best teams in the league and when they’re playing well they’re a tough team to beat at home so we have to give the credit to them. And for us, it just wasn’t good enough for tonight and we’ll have to make it better for our next game.”
On breaking down the Galaxy prior to the game:
“We had a few areas we wanted to expose but again, credit to them. They played a great game. We weren’t able to break them down and they got two against us. So, credit has to go to them.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY FORWARD GRAHAM ZUSI
On Sporting’s approach early on and how they veered away from it:
“After the first 15 minutes of good pressure and balance, we got away from that for one reason or another. Our initial pressure on the ball disappeared and allowed them to move the ball up the field at their liking. And that’s when they can cause some problems. Given that much time on the ball, their movement off the ball is very good as well. We kind of fell apart defensively and allowed them to get a couple goals.”
On Landon Donovan’s return to the Galaxy and his performance tonight:
“It wasn’t that long of an absence but Landon’s a great player, always has been always will be. I don’t think you saw him miss a beat out there. He was a key on both of their goals and he’s looking like Landon of old.”
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CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan earned the headlines during the LA Galaxy’s 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City, but Marcelo Sarvas was arguably the finest player on the field for LA.
Sarvas and Juninho led the Galaxy’s midfield pressure which overwhelmed Sporting’s midfield. As a result, LA created several scoring opportunities on the counter including Sarvas’ goal in the 27th minute. The play created some controversy as many believed that Sarvas’ committed a handball after controlling a turnover by Sporting’s Oriol Rosell.
The goal wasn’t the only stellar aspect of Sarvas’ performance as the Brazilian was nearly flawless in his distribution as he finished the game with 42 completed passes out of 51 attempts along with 10 tackles won and two interceptions.
Although Sarvas called the performance the Galaxy’s best of the season over 90 minutes, he admitted that LA had shown shades of this type of showing earlier in the season.
“Today we won the game, that’s why it seems better, but we are doing this every game. “The spirit is on how team goes to the field. We always go to press and win games. All of our lines were in good position and everything they had the ball, we were close to steal the ball and make turnovers then go on the counter attack.”
And as for that hand ball shout on his goal, was it one?
“I don’t think so,” said Sarvas. “I had no intention to hit the ball, I stole the ball and the ball came up. It’s about interpretation of the referee and I thought he did well.”
But would he have been angered if it was called?
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena offered his thoughts following Saturday's 2-0 LA Galaxy victory over Sporting Kansas City.
Arena's thoughts are below.
(On his general thoughts following the game...)
ARENA: "A more complete match for us, pretty solid over 90 minutes. Obviously not perfect, but I think that we haven't closed games out the right way this year, we haven't played well in the last 15 minutes of games and I think tonight, we did that. Obviously, the second goal was important, it was a great combination between [Robbie] Keane and [Landon] Donovan and obviously, the first half, [Marcelo] Sarvas' goal was a big goal. Overall, a pretty solid performance by our team over 90 minutes."
(On Landon Donovan's performance...)
ARENA: "A much improved performance. He played well...You see every game, he's getting better."
(On the back four's play...)
ARENA: "I think the entire back line played a good game tonight, obviously, A.J. [DeLaGarza] and Omar [Gonzalez] are pretty comfortable with each other, I thought Sean [Franklin] and Todd [Dunivant] did well, but collectively as a team, it was much more complete, which certainly helps our back line."
(On how Jack McBean's decision making is improving...)
ARENA: "Fine. He's still a young player at 18-years-old and I thought that he gave us a solid performance tonight."
In the game notes for Saturday's clash against Sporting Kansas City, the LA Galaxy revealed their injury report.
The report is below...
In the wake of this week's tragic events in the city of Boston, the LA Galaxy Foundation will donate 10,000 dollars to the One Fund Boston, which was created to help those most affected by the events on April 15.
The club will also be hanging flags of the New England Revolution, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and Boston Red Sox as well as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the grass berm during Saturday's match against Sporting Kansas City. The Galaxy will also observe a Moment of Silence pre-game to honor the victims.
“The LA Galaxy have been tremendously moved by the outpouring of support from around the world to those who have been affected by the recent Boston Marathon bombings and wanted to assist those families by making this donation,” said Galaxy President Chris Klein in a release issued through the club's website. “We consider our club to be a family and we were pained to learn that Southern California native John Odom, the father-in-law of our former goalkeeper Matt Reis, was one of those who were injured in Monday’s attacks. Matt will always be a member of the Galaxy family and we are all thinking of him and his family in this time of need.”
CARSON, Calif. – It has been an extremely positive week for Gyasi Zardes, who trained fully with the LA Galaxy for the first time this week and even made a brief appearance for the Galaxy reserves on Monday.
But will the Homegrown forward make the gameday roster for Saturday’s clash against Sporting Kansas City?
Zardes has been impressed with his fitness level during the week’s training and did well during a brief 17 minute shift in a Reserve League match against Seattle Sounders FC on Monday, but whether he makes the roster on Saturday remains a question mark.
“I would definitely be surprised, but I’m working my way into it and that is what I’m looking forward to it,” Zardes told LA Galaxy Insider. “[Head coach Bruce Arena] keeps everyone on their toes [in terms of roster selection], but it’d be very exciting and my dream come true because I haven’t stepped on the field.”
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) April 18, 2013
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, defender Omar Gonzalez and forwards Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan preview Saturday's clash against Sporting Kansas City.
Watch the video below...
CARSON, Calif. – A red card suspension to Leonardo has created a vacancy in the center of the LA Galaxy defense for this weekend’s match against Sporting Kansas City and who fills it may help LA snap their recent four-game winless run.
One of the primary options is A.J. DeLaGarza, who has started all nine of the Galaxy’s matches in 2013 across all competitions. A staple in the LA back four at central defense, DeLaGarza has primarily played at right back this year making six of his nine appearances out wide.
With Leonardo suspended and the Galaxy developing a habit of conceding late goals— seven of the eight goals allowed this season have come in the last 12 minutes of games—a return to the pairing of DeLaGarza and Gonzalez may be necessary.
“It’s something that we’ve done for years now. We’ve had Todd, myself, Sean and Omar back there for a number of years now so we’re all comfortable and know each other pretty well,” said DeLaGarza. “If that happens, we have to get back to what we’re good at, which is shutting opponents down for 90 minutes plus.”
If DeLaGarza is stationed at center back, it could help LA shut down an athletic Sporting attack led by Graham Zusi and Claudio Bieler. Known for his speed and positioning, DeLaGarza is aptly suited to stop Sporting’s fleet-footed attackers
That may not be the only benefit for DeLaGarza, who admits to feeling more confident at central defense than he is out wide.
“I’m probably more confident in that I know the game better from that position,” said DeLaGarza. “In terms of reading the game well and just giving the ball to people who are going to make the plays for us in Juninho and Marcelo [Sarvas] instead of me trying to be a playmaker from the center back spot.”
CARSON, Calif. – Central to Sporting Kansas City’s efforts this season has been the play of reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Jimmy Nielsen.
The Danish ‘keeper has followed up his strong award-winning 2012 season with yet another strong performance this year having only conceded three goals while making 11 saves and keeping a 0.43 goals against average. Currently Sporting have a five-game shutout streak and have kept their opponents scoreless for the last 512 minutes.
LA’s own goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini admitted that Nielsen is quite the weapon for Kansas City, but he’s more focused on stopping their high-octane attack.
“He’s doing very well. Last year, he was the best goalkeeper in the league. It’s a team that looks pretty solid and this year they have a very good striker in [Claudio] Bieler, who is a very good goleador. They’re getting stronger and last year they were first in their conference so they’re a team to beat.”