CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo has the hopes of a nation resting upon his shoulders this week as he seeks to help Panama slay Mexico at the vaulted Estadio Azteca and reach the World Cup for the first time.
Panama currently sit in fourth place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tied on points with Mexico, but ahead on the goals scored tiebreaker. A victory against El Tri on Oct. 11 would help Panama inch closer to locking down fourth place, which would allow them to face New Zealand in a two-leg playoff for a berth in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Penedo’s Panama have had plenty of success against Mexico over the past year with the Central Americans picking up a 2-0-1 record in all competitions against El Tri. However, this time they’ll have to do so at the Estadio Azteca where Mexico are traditionally dominant, but dropped their last home World Cup qualifier to Honduras 2-1. With Mexico coming off their first defeat in 27 competitive matches at Azteca, Penedo knows that Los Canaleros are in for a battle.
“It’s going to be a tough game. A complicated game,” Penedo told LA Galaxy Insider on Sunday. “Playing in that stadium against that team is always difficult, but we have lots of confidence that we can have a good game. That’s what we want and that’s what the entire country wants.”
Although there is speculation that his U.S. National Team teammates Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan may return before the match between their two countries on Oct. 15, don’t look for Penedo to return if Los Canaleros can’t get a result in Mexico.
“If the result in Mexico doesn’t matter, we’d still have an opportunity [to qualify for Brazil] with the last game, but that will take care of itself. Right now, I just want to concentrate on Friday,” said Penedo. “Today was an important game, we got three points that we needed and it keeps us in the fight and on the right track.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan's tying of the all-time MLS regular season goals record is no doubt a great accomplishment, but let's look at it by the numbers.
134: Goals scored in Donovan's career
301: Number of games that it took Donovan to reach the mark compared to 365 for Cunningham.
25765: Number of minutes that Donovan has played in his career compared to the 22751 that Jeff Cunningham played.
102: Goals scored by Donovan for the LA Galaxy
32: Goals scored by Donovan for the San Jose Earthquakes
3: Number of regular season games left this season for Donovan to break Cunningham's record.
Now that you've looked at those numbers and read my sidebar on Donovan's accomplishment, I ask a simple question:
CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes got the goals in the LA Galaxy’s 5-0 demolishing of Chivas USA, but midfielder Michael Stephens was one of the true unsung heroes in the victory.
Stationed on the right side of midfield, Stephens was efficient as he completed 59 of 68 passes on the evening while frequently testing Chivas left back Jaime Frias. The 24-year-old assisted in LA’s build up play in the final third throughout the match, but he nearly got on the score sheet in the 57th minute when he launched a pass to Robbie Keane that was deflected off a Chivas defender in the penalty area.
After being afforded the chance to start for the first time since June 28, Stephens admitted that he was desperate to capitalize on the opportunity.
“I had a good game. I just kept it simple because there was not much running to do with how hot it was out there. It made my job easy and I just played small touches which is what Bruce wanted of me and it worked out,” said Stephens. “Any time that you get an opportunity, you want to do well with it and this year, I haven’t always taken the most of my opportunities, but today was a good one. I’m trying to build on it at the end of the year.”
Following the match, associate head coach Dave Sarachan took notice of Stephens’ stellar play.
“Mikey competes. The guy competes. He’s tactically very sharp in terms of knowing where to position himself. You never have to question his desire and his effort that he’s going to put in,” said Sarachan. “I think he made good decisions today. Fair enough, we had some space to play, but I think Mikey, in that role, both sides of the ball, did a very good job.”
Should Stephens get more opportunities?
Share your thoughts below.
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy associate head coach Dave Sarachan addressed the media following the LA Galaxy's 5-0 victory over Chivas USA on Sunday.
Sarachan's thoughts are below...
(On the win...)
SARACHAN: “It was no secret that we were at a point now that we needed three points. I thought the guys, given the conditions today and as hot as it was, came up with a very good attitude and came up with three points, which is the most important thing. It gets us closer to a playoff position. Sure it’s nice to score five goals, but the key was getting three points and we did that. It’s massive. We kind of think that the season started today.”
(On Landon Donovan tying the MLS all-time regular season record...)
SARACHAN: “We’ve known Landon for a long time. Very proud over these years to follow Landon, to be a part of Landon’s career. We say it over and over when Landon is healthy and in full tilt you take him over anyone else. Very proud and he should be very proud of the achievement, but he will be the first to tell you that the three points were more important. Just hope it continues.”
(On Gyasi Zardes’ performance today...)
SARACHAN: “Gyasi has been like a caged lion for us in terms of getting some points on the board. We spent some time in training, and hopefully it paid off a little bit for him, on recognizing moments where he can really use his speed to get by guys. Today, I thought he did an excellent job of finding those moments to find some space to use his speed to beat the defenders. That’s part one. Part two is that once you’ve beaten the defender you get to serve it properly, which he did. He had two assists and got himself a goal. Production wise we are very pleased for Gyasi. I thought in the second half, like most guys, tired a little bit, maybe took his foot off the gas. He’s a young guy, so he needs to understand that 90 minutes is 90 minutes, but this was a big game for him. I was pleased.”
(On Michael Stephens’ performance today...)
SARACHAN: “Mikey competes. The guy competes. He’s tactically very sharp in terms of knowing where to position himself. You never have to question his desire and his effort that he’s going to put in. I think he made good decisions today. Fair enough, we had some space to play, but I think Mikey, in that role, both sides of the ball, did a very good job.”
(On defeating Chivas USA...)
SARACHA: “I’m just happy we won. It didn’t matter who we played today. It’s a Clasico, and I know that you guys build that up as an emotional affair. I think that we are at a point in our franchise that it’s not quite the emotional affair that you guys think it is. It was just another game today. We respect them. I think their coach is a classy guy. I think their staff is trying to get that ship righted. We respect them. We look at this as we banged in some goals, which we were pleased about, and got three points. It happened to be against Chivas.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan further solidified his place as the greatest player to play in MLS on Sunday as he tied Jeff Cunningham for the MLS all-time regular season goal scoring record.
Donovan tied Cunningham's mark of 134 career regular season goals on Sunday with with goals in the 23rd and 41st minutes respectively. Whereas Cunningham reached 134 goals in 365 appearances, Donovan reached the tally in 301 games.
Donovan's record-tying goal is below...
Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez will be heading joining U.S. National Team for their World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and Panama after being called up by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Sunday.
The LA Galaxy duo were among the 20 players called up by Klinsmann for their World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica on Oct. 11 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. and Panama on Oct. 15 in Panama City. The pair is likely to join up the U.S. squad immediately following Sunday’s SuperClasico against Chivas USA.
As for how the international call affects the Galaxy, the lone question mark surrounds their status—and that of Robbie Keane and Jaime Penedo—for LA’s Oct. 16 match against the Montreal Impact. The timing of the match may make it impossible for any of LA’s four players to feature against Montreal just a day later.
The U.S. complete squad is below.
GOALKEEPERS : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)
In LAGalaxy.com's video preview, Landon Donovan, Todd Dunivant and Robbie Keane preview Sunday's SuperClasico.
Check it out below...
CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA has struggled to find the back of the net this season with just 29 goals to date, but with Erick “El Cubo” Torres leading the attack, they possess a weapon as dangerous as any in MLS.
The 20-year-old Torres has scored seven goals in 12 appearances—all coming in his first nine games—since joining the team in July on loan from Chivas de Guadalajara. Although the young forward has been held off the scoreboard in the Rojiblancos’ last three games, Landon Donovan insists that he’s a major point of concern for the LA Galaxy heading into Sunday's SuperClasico.
“He’s a really good player. I've been really impressed with him,” said Donovan. “He’s as effective of a player as there is in the league when he’s playing this way. We have to be very aware and often times this year, he’s pulled off plays that have gotten them points or kept them in games, so for me, he’s the focal point of their attack. No question.”
With the young Mexican forward drawing great acclaim for his ability to find space behind opposing defenses, the Galaxy understand that they must be aware of him at all times.
“He’s always moving along the backline and always towing the line of being offside. He’s crafty and he has a nose for the goal similar to a [Chris] Wondolowski,” said defender Todd Dunivant. “He’s got aggressiveness about him and no fear. Those are good qualities for a striker and he’s got a lot of goals.”
In the latest edition of "The Scouting Report" MLSsoccer.com's Dan Haiek and Matthew Doyle take a look at Sunday's SuperClasico.
Take a look below...
CARSON, Calif. – Call Sunday’s SuperClasico against Chivas USA a “must win” for the LA Galaxy or whatever you like, but LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is preaching patience and focus for his club as they look to solidify a spot in the postseason.
Arena will be suspended for Sunday’s match after leaving the technical area during last week’s 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers, but when asked if his team –which sits just a point from of being out of the postseason—is facing a must win, the Galaxy boss countered that sentiment.
“This is what we do for a living. People that can’t take pressure, can’t take criticism and all of that stuff that is tough and can damage your ego and confidence a little, that’s part of the game,” said Arena. “I’ve watched our congressional leaders tear themselves a part and they’ll have to deal with that and get everything headed in the right direction. Our job is easy; we’re just playing a game. This can’t be the hardest thing in life that we’re experiencing right now.
“As for any of that fine line stuff, this is it. We’ve been a team that has generally responded well to big games, so we have to show that down the stretch.”
Whether the match is a must win remains to be seen, but the Galaxy head coach is quick to note that with four games remaining in the 2013 MLS Regular Season schedule, every game counts.
“We’re now entering October and there’s not a team qualified for the playoffs yet. Every game is pretty important,” said Arena. “Everything is up for grabs at this point. The team with the most points in the league has 52? We’ve got 45 and you’re already writing our obituaries."