CARSON, Calif. – A focal part of the offense of Seattle Sounders FC has been the play of forward Eddie Johnson and his success has not gone unnoticed by his former U.S. National Team coach Bruce Arena.
It was Arena who gave Johnson his start with the U.S. in 2004 and subsequently selected him as part of the USMNT’s squad for the 2006 World Cup. Johnson made two appearances on a squad that failed to advance past the group stage, but was considered by some to be one of the few bright spots of that underachieving group.
Johnson quickly developed into a rising star in MLS and with the USMNT, ultimately leaving for EPL side Fulham. It was in old continent that trouble struck as Johnson could never hold down a spot with the Cottagers before bouncing around Europe with spells at Championship side Cardiff City, Greek club Aris, and lastly Championship club Preston North End.
This season, Johnson has reinvented himself with the Sounders by scoring 14 goals and three assists for Seattle while also earning a place back on Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. team. When the Western Conference Championship kicks off on Sunday, stopping Johnson—and his forward partner Fredy Montero-will be key for LA to advance to their third MLS Cup in four tries.
On Saturday, the Galaxy boss told reporters that he was pleased with the way that Johnson has turned his career around over the last year.
“He’s had a really good year. He’s discovered his niche as a forward and that niche is to get at the end of service in the box. They make it pretty simple for him and he’s done his job and done it well,” said Arena. “I think he’s had a rough going over the last five years. It’s nice to see that he’s taken advantage of this opportunity.”
An update on the situation regarding ticket sales for Sunday's Western Conference Championship First Leg between the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC.
In response to a query from the LA Galaxy Insider on Saturday afternoon: "We are close to a sellout with limited tickets remaining. We opened the berm last night and are expecting a standing room crowd."
CARSON, Calif. -- Ahead of Sunday's Western Conference Championship First Leg, the following LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC players will be suspended for the second leg if they receive another yellow card.
LA Galaxy: DEF Omar Gonzalez, MID. David Beckham, MID: Marcelo Sarvas, MID: Juninho
Seattle Sounders FC: DEF. Jeff Parke, MID. Osvaldo Alonso, MID. Brad Evans
Remember, if one of these seven players is booked on Sunday, they will be suspended for the second leg, but if they pick a yellow in the second leg, they will not be suspended for the MLS Cup Final.
CARSON, Calif. -- Ahead of Sunday's Western Conference Championship First Leg, check out my Three Points to the game.
Agree or disagree with my observations? Leave your thoughts below.
CARSON, Calif. -- Time Warner Cable SportsNet has provided a pair of interesting videos on the ahead of Sunday's Western Conference Championship match against Seattle Sounders FC.
Access: SportsNet's host Chris Mcgee speaks to Galaxy rookie defender Tommy Meyer to discuss his recent play and preview Sunday's match against Seattle.
Mcgee also speaks to yours truly, to breakdown LA's victory in San Jose.
Be sure to check them out and leave your comments below.
CARSON, Calif. – Brazilian midfielder Juninho has been at the heart of the LA Galaxy midfield for three years and has enjoyed plenty of battles with Seattle Sounders FC. This Sunday, he'll be part of yet another battle in the Western Conference Championship First Leg at The Home Depot Center.
Juninho was stationed in the center of midfield for all three of the Galaxy’s matches against Seattle this season where LA accrued a 1-2-0 record against the Sounders this season. In those matches, the midfield battle turned on Juninho’s battles with Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans.
The Brazilian will need to be on point on both sides of the ball in the Western Conference Championship First Leg on Sunday as LA look to crack a Seattle defense that allowed just 33 goals this season—the lowest amount in the Western Conference.
Ahead of Sunday’s match, Juninho believes that team defense will ultimately decide the Western Conference Championship.
“Now, it’s who plays better on defense. We have two games and we need to be smart about that. I hope that we win both games and advance to the final, “said Juninho. “[We need to] play simple and smart because we have two games and the second game is [in Seattle]. We need to score a couple of goals [at home] and play smart and intelligent.”
The axe fell for two MLS head coaches on Friday.
The New York Red Bulls announced on Friday that the contracts of head coach Hans Backe and assistant Jan Halvor Halvorsen would not be renewed for the 2013 season while also announcing the appointment of Andy Roxburgh as the club's new Sporting Director. The Swedish manager will be replaced by Mike Petke on an interim basis.
Meanwhile, Soccer By Ives reports that Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser and his assistant Greg Vanney have been let go by the Rojiblancos. Speculation has swirled around the former Galaxy defender after Chivas de Guadalajara owner Jorge Vergara took sole ownership of the club earlier in the year. Vergara is scheduled to speak to the media at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills next Tuesday.
If Fraser joins Backe, it will bring the total of MLS coaches relieved of their duties this offseason to three after the Montreal Impact parted ways with Jesse Marsch last week.
In other news, the MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Andy Najar for the entire Eastern Conference Championship series and fined him an undisclosed amount for hurling a ball at Jair Marrufo -- who will officiate this Sunday's Western Conference Championship Final -- after being awarded a yellow card for a hard challenge on Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere in the 71st minute of the Eastern Conference Semifinal First Leg last week.
Also, Seattle Sounders defender Marc Burch offered an apology for directing a homophobic slur at Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson in the 75th minute of their Western Conference Semifinal Second Leg at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday night. No word yet if Burch will be suspended, but Houston Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark was suspended three games for using a similar slur toward a ball boy during a game in Seattle earlier in the season.
CARSON, Calif. -- Below are LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena's comments from training on November 9.
(On being surprised that Seattle got through over Salt Lake…)
ARENA: “I’m not surprised at all. The way those teams played this year that was the only goal scored in their four games. Obviously don’t expect a low scoring game, a close game.”
(On what Seattle does well…)
ARENA: “Their defending has been an important part of their planning on how they’re going to win games. On the road they really put an emphasis on defending as a team.”
(On how confident the Galaxy are against Seattle…)
ARENA: “We’re going to step on the field ready to play and win on Sunday.”
(On having the last laugh at team’s critics…)
ARENA: “I don’t pay attention to a whole lot that’s said and written.”
(On if there was any advantage over Seattle from past series…)
ARENA: “It’s immaterial. We’re just trying to win a game, win and move on to MLS Cup final…You can wipe the slate clean on all of these series. What happened in the previous ones is immaterial.”
(On what it takes to beat Seattle…)
ARENA: “Probably score more goals than the Sounders…You have to play well, concentrate on the fact it’s two games, maybe two games plus 30 minutes, maybe two games plus 30 minutes and penalty kicks. Anything can happen. You got to hang in there at all times and no lead is safe.”
(On how well the Galaxy is playing now…)
ARENA: “We’re playing well enough to win this competition.”
(On Mike Magee’s knack for scoring big goals…)
ARENA: “That’s the qualities of a good player. He’s always been a player that’s been good in and around the penalty area. When he gets a look at the goal, he’s pretty good getting his shots on the frame. Half the battle of scoring is if you can’t hit the goal the likelihood of scoring is diminished greatly.”
CARSON, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes series behind them, the LA Galaxy have turned their focus on Seattle Sounders FC, who they will face in the Western Conference Championship.
Seattle won the season series 2-1-0 with the Galaxy, earning two victories –both at CenturyLink Field in Seattle—by a combined score of 6-0 before LA won the season finale at The Home Depot Center 1-0 in August. While Seattle has enjoyed success this season, LA have the edge in postseason matches with Seattle after defeating the Sounders in the 2010 Western Conference Semifinal.
Although the Galaxy have displayed success against Seattle in important matches, Magee believes that LA are facing an uphill battle in the two-leg championship series.
“No, they have the advantage. They have more points than us and they get the second leg at home so I think that the pressure is on them to win,” said Magee. “They’ve obviously proved that they could go to Salt Lake and get a result which is extremely hard to do. I definitely that say that they’re favorite at the moment.”
The Sounders will arrive at The Home Depot Center with one of the stingiest defenses in MLS, having only conceded 33 goals all season –the top mark in the Western Conference and second in MLS—due to the steady play of goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. However, that isn’t the only weapon that the Sounders carry as Seattle boast a plethora of talented attackers like Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero, Mauro Rosales, among others.
And just how does Magee think that the Galaxy defeat Seattle?
“We just have to want it more,” Magee said. “I think they’re a team that is playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of motivation Especially, playing against us, like San Jose, they’ve always wanted to beat us and they’ve judged themselves based on their successes and failures against us. This is their MLS Cup and it’s going to be very big for them.”
One thing is certain for Magee, who expects more of the physical play that epitomized LA’s series with San Jose.
“It’s going to be more,” Magee said. “As you get closer to the MLS Cup Final, it’s going to get more important and more physical. I’m expecting an all-out battle.”
Below is Mike Magee's appearance on MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio.
Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid seems to have gotten a little extra motivation on Thursday night from the LA Galaxy.
On Thursday afternoon, the Galaxy Communications department released a training schedule that mistakenly labeled Sunday’s Western Conference Championship as “LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake.”[the image can be found here along with another foible by the league office]. The ex-Galaxy boss took notice of his mistake and made sure to use it to his team’s advantage before their decisive Western Conference Semifinal Second Leg.
"LA thought they were playing Salt Lake,” Schmid told reporters on Thursday.” They put out a press release and said they were playing Salt Lake, so we hate to disappoint them. That's motivation enough for us right now."