Beat

03 March 7:54 pm

LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Jose Villarreal started and went a full 120 minutes, but the U.S. U-20's fell 3-1 to Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. 

Mexico's Jesus Corona and U.S.' Benji Joya traded goals in the first ten minutes of the match, but in extra time, Mexico pulled away. Julio Gomez scored the winner off a bicycle kick off a corner in the 99th minute before Jorge Espericueta nodded home the third and final goal off a penalty kick in the 113th minute after Shane O'Neill was sent off for a foul in the box.  Villarreal wasn't the player with Galaxy affiliations to play as Galaxy Academy product Javan Torre started in central defense while former Academy starlet Mario Rodriguez started up top. 

Following the match, Villarreal was named to the tournament's Best XI along with his U.S. teammates Wil Trapp and Luis Gil. The Galaxy Homegrown's weren't the only players with local ties as Southern California-native -- and FC Dallas Homegrown player -- Richard Sanchez was awarded the golden gloves of the tournament for backstopping Mexico to the title. 

The draw for the U-20 World Cup takes place on March 25 in Istanbul, Turkey.

03 March 7:25 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Mike Magee sent a message to many across the American soccer landscape on Sunday afternoon -- it just might be time to stop labeling him as "underrated."

Magee scored the first hat trick of his career as the LA Galaxy defeated the Chicago Fire 4-0 to open their MLS season below. Magee did not wish to comment on the concept of being labeled underrated after the match, but his strike partner Robbie Keane, who is rarely at a loss for words, provided his own thoughts.

"Who calls him underrated? You are all in the media so it's obviously you [guys] because I've never heard any of the players in MLS say it," said Keane. 

I provided the following sidebar on Magee's performance below

Three goals for Magee lead to three points for the Galaxy against Chicago

03 March 7:19 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The ring ceremony is an essential part in American sports. A banner is raised celebrating a past achievement and glowing rings are distributed to the players and staff, but while the pomp and circumstance is certainly warranted, it is important for teams to remain focused on the task of winning games.

The LA Galaxy did just that on Sunday as they defeated the Chicago Fire 4-0 spurred on by a hat-trick performance from Mike Magee as well as a goal from Robbie Keane.  LA is now 3-1-0 on ring ceremony night all-time.

The Galaxy reflect on the ceremony and its importance below…

BRUCE ARENA: “I think that believe it or not, having gone through this before, it’s a good experience. This was something that we were well aware of for an extended period of time. When it came to this day, we knew what to expect. We’re obviously grateful for the support, the championship banner and the rings. Don’t get us wrong, but we knew this time how to put it in perspective. We were really eager to get out there, get that ceremony over with and play. That was a big focus on behalf of the game and obvious they did well today.”

TODD DUNIVANT: “It was awesome. Tim Leiweke pulled me in close and said, ‘it only gets better each time and they only get bigger,” and he’s right because this is a monster ring.”

MIKE MAGEE: “Getting the hat trick was cool, getting the win was cool. And, the best part of the day was getting the ring. So, it was an okay day.”

 

03 March 6:53 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy roared out of the gate on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Fire.

On the day that the Galaxy received their rings for the 2012 MLS Cup championship, Mike Magee scored three goals and Robbie Keane added a fourth as LA crushed Chicago to open the season with a victory. 

A few notes from the match are below:

*Mike Magee's hat-trick was the first of his professional career and the second multi-goal game since his brace in a match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Sept. of 2011. Magee is now on pace for 102 goals this season. 

*Leonardo made his first regular season appearance since April 17, 2011 when he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his right knee in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.

*The Galaxy's play in midfield was a far departure from the Beckham-era as Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho provided far more combination play that led to forays forward for LA.

*Colin Clark showed well in his first appearance with the Galaxy and was one of the club's standard-barbers in the first half as he was particularly active going forward and creating opportunities.

*Juninho appears to be LA's set-piece taker this season -- at least until Landon Donovan returns.

*The Galaxy are now 9-6-3 all-time in regular season openers.

*LA now head to Costa Rica later this week to take on CS Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. 

*Highlights of the game are below...

03 March 5:43 pm

 

CARSON, Calif. -- Mike Magee was the hero as the LA Galaxy crushed the Chicago Fire 4-0 in their MLS regular season opener, but Brazilian defender Leonardo earned a milestone of his own as he made his first MLS appearance since undergoing a serious knee injury in April of 2011.

Leonardo discusses his first start in nearly two years below...

(On how gratifying to be on the field again...)

LEONARDO: "A lot of things were going through my head. Not just today, but even yesterday I was thinking about today. The fact that yes, it was almost two years ago and yes, this very exact team in Chicago when I got injured. And all the training sessions, games and games leading up to this moment I was thinking about everything. And I leave with a good feeling, that I’m ready not just for this game but the season and many more games."

(On if he ever thought about quitting and not being able to play again...)

LEOANRDO: "None. I had my faith in God and with that it was all there. I never lost confidence, I never lost my faith in God. And I just kept working hard."

(On how comfortable he felt today...)

LEOANRDO: I felt good. Like I told you guys at the beginning of the preseason, I wasn’t 100 percent, but I had five games to get in shape. Right now I’m hitting my stride and I’m ready for the season.

(On whether he is past the point of thinking about the knee...)

LEONARDO: No, I don’t think about my knee. I think more about the muscle mass on my knee and giving it enough rest, which I would normally do. I don’t think about the knee being strong enough or not being strong enough.

(On if he felt like he could 90 minutes today...)

LEONARDO: "Yeah, I thought I could play 90 minutes. Yes, it was a time of day where it’s really hot, so that sort of made me level myself a little more, not play very crazy and not make crazy runs. And that would lead to cramps or anything like that. But in the end I was confident in myself going 90 minutes."

 

03 March 11:53 am

The 2013 season is finally here for the LA Galaxy so as you get through your gameday routine before the LA Galaxy take on the Chicago Fire at 2 p.m. PT at The Home Depot Center, check out the following links and matchups to watch below.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

OMAR GONZALEZ vs. SHERJILL MACDONALD

A true battle of heavyweights as the burly Omar Gonzalez takes on Sherjill MacDonald, a bruising yet streaky forward for the Fire. MacDonald tends to use his size to earn space behind defenses, but expect him to endure a great deal of physical punishment from Gonzalez, which could limit his effectiveness. 

ROBBIE KEANE vs.  ARNE FRIEDRICH

On the other end of the field, Robbie Keane will be tasked with leading LA's attack against a feisty Chicago defense that is led by cerebral centerback Arne Friedrich. The feisty German veteran and his counterpart Austin Berry will have their hands full with Keane who will look to get behind the pair early and often. 

JUNINHO/MARCELO SARVAS vs. JEFF LARENTOWICZ/JOEL LINDPERE

Both midfields will be lead by two-way threats who are as comfortable in defense as they are in attack, so positioning will be key. Expect both teams to attempt to pressure their counterparts and force turnovers that could lead to dangerous attacking situations. 

LINKS:

*Bruce Arena admits that the Galaxy are ready for the real games to start.

*Robbie Keane will begin his era as Galaxy captain. During an interview earlier in the week, Keane gives an insight into his leadership style.

*Could Leonardo get the nod alongside Omar Gonzalez in central defense? If so, the Brazilian believes that he can do the job.

*Mike Magee missed out on the first two days of practice this week, but the Galaxy attacker says that he is ready to play.

*Read LAGalaxy.com writer Larry Morgan's preview to the match and remember LA will receive their championship rings prior to the game.

*Lastly, check out my Three Points to the game.

PREDICTED LINEUP:

Cudicini; DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Gonzalez, Dunivant; Franklin, Sarvas, Juninho, Clark; Magee, Keane

02 March 4:29 pm

The LA Galaxy's title defense will begun on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Fire.

The start of the season means the return of my "Three Points" to the match.

Check out my analysis in the link below and as always share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Three Points: LA Galaxy open the season against the Chicago Fire.

02 March 4:07 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy wrapped up their preparations for Sunday’s regular season opener against the Chicago Fire with a lively training session on Saturday morning.

After a successful preseason that saw the club go 5-1-1, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena believes that his club is itching for the season to start.

“We’re looking forward to the game,” said Arena. “We’ve certainly had enough of preseason at this point. We’ve been together five weeks so it’s time to play the games that count…We’re prepared. We have to deal with the ring ceremony beforehand so we have to be good and focused and have the right kind of concentration. We have to understand that it is part of the day, and rightfully so, and then get on with the business of getting ready for kick off.”

They’ll open the season against a Chicago side that is coming off a successful season in 2012 that saw the Fire get knocked out by the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Houston Dynamo in a Knockout Round match. If the Fire are to return to the postseason, it will be in large part due to an organized back four that is headlined by 2012 Rookie of the Year centerback Austin Berry.

“They’re a disciplined team with their block of six in defending,” said Galaxy forward Mike Magee. “You got to be patient. They’re not going to come out of their block of six so you have to be patient. We have to pass well and if we get a chance early then we have to finish it so we can make them lose their shape.”

Meanwhile, for centerback Omar Gonzalez, the focus will be on slowing their attack—particularly forward Sherjill MacDonald who scored four goals in 14 appearances for the Fire in 2012.

“He likes to sit on the line and threaten behind you so we have to be aware of where he is. If they bring Maicon Santos in then we have to be aware of his left foot,” said Gonzalez. “They’re going to be really confident and move the ball around, but like I’ve said in years past, it’s about how we start the game and our mentality because if all those things are right then it’s highly probable that we’ll win the game.”

A couple of notes...

*Tommy Meyer was back at training on Saturday and spoke to reporters to provide an update on his recovery. The second-year defender told reporters that he began running for the first time on Saturday as he concentrates on improving his fitness. 

*Chandler Hoffman trained with the club for the first time on Saturday.

"The Galaxy formally announced the signings of SuperDraft selections Charlie Rugg and Greg Cochrane.

*The Galaxy will receive their championship rings prior to Sunday's game. More information on the rings can be found here.

02 March 2:26 pm

CARSON, Calif. – When the LA Galaxy take the field against the Chicago Fire on Sunday, they’ll have a new captain for the first time since the 2009 season as Robbie Keane takes over for Landon Donovan. 

Keane’s teammates admitted earlier in the week, however, that little change is expected with the Irishman taking possession of the armband for good. The 32-year-old forward has served as the club's vice-captain since the start of the 2012 season and he vows that he'll remain the same type of leader now that he is the face of the franchise.

“Listen, if I can help the franchise and help this team win games and win championships for me, that’s important. Everything else will take care of itself,” said Keane.  “I’m not one of those people that goes home and really thinks too much [about] being on billboards and stuff like that. I’ve been playing for a long time and I know that it is all part of what you do. It’s something that you just take it on board and that’s it.”

When asked to describe his leadership style, Keane admits that he’ll bring plenty of his trademark candor to the role of Galaxy captain.

“It’s about being a leader on the pitch and off the pitch. It’s important to tell people if they’re not doing the job and without being captain, I’m that person anyways. I like people around me to do better and be better. I only do it to help the team and help the players around me become better players,” said Keane. “For me, the most important thing is that people respect you and look up to you. I’m not one of those these people that will go behind people’s backs, if I’ve got something to say then I will say it straight to their face. If you don’t like it, I don’t really give a [expletive] to be honest with you.

“I’ve been in teams since I was 17 that had a lot of big players who gave me bollocks for a few years and it made me a lot stronger and the player that I am now,” added Keane. “You learn [a lot from] these experienced players so if I can help the players then great.”

One place that Keane will certainly help the Galaxy in 2013 will be on the scoresheet as he looks to repeat his impressive goal tally of 23 goals in 37 games across all competitions last season. Although Keane serves as the primary weapon in the Galaxy offense, the Irishman insists LA are not a one man show. And to prove his point, he looks back at the current situation at his previous club Tottenham Hotspur. 

“People are talking about [Tottenham Hotspur left winger] Gareth Bale being a one-man team but even though he’s on fire, he’s got [good] players around him,” said Keane. “I think for me, without the other teammates giving me the chances to score goals, I wouldn’t be half the player that I am.”

As a player and a captain, results take precedent for Keane, but the Irishman hopes that his blunt leadership pays dividends for his teammates.

“They have to get on board,” said Keane. “You’re not doing it to disrespect anybody, you’re doing it to try and help them become better players and maybe in a few years when they look back at their time here, hopefully they can say that I did help them.”

02 March 12:08 pm

CARSON, Calif. – On Sunday, the LA Galaxy will celebrate winning their fourth MLS Cup title, but for all the team’s success on and off the field, Galaxy President Chris Klein believes that greater days are ahead for the club.

At the unveiling of a new sport court for the Carson Boys and Girls Club, I caught up with Klein for a quick chat on the state of the club.

Check it out below...

LA GALAXY INSIDER: “Chris, what is the state of the team heading into the 2013 season?”

KLEIN: “I think the state of the team is very good. It’s not perfect, obviously, we’re still missing Landon, but I think that the preparation that the team has had has been as good as it can get. We have our home opener which we have to deal with then our focus turns to Champions League. Bruce has been very clear is our initial goal in 2013 is to start better than 2012, which seems simple, but it’s something that the team and group is focused on.”

LAGI: You mentioned the CONCACAF Champions League, just how important is that competition for the team as a brand and on the business side?

KLEIN: “It’s important for us as the Galaxy. There’s no brand or business issue, it’s important for us. Our league and the Galaxy have to establish that we are the best league and the Galaxy has the best team in this region. And that includes being able to complete effectively against Mexican clubs, it’s very simple. We have to establish that we can do that.”

LAGI: You’re heading into the first year without David Beckham. How does that change things for the club?

KLEIN: “I don’t know that it changed things a lot. One thing that we realized that as great as an asset as David was, he helped us to realize what the Galaxy could become—a worldwide brand and something that people wanted to see. Now we’ve taken that torch and continued on. We’re confident that the Galaxy’s best days are ahead of us.”

LAGI: Has there been any impact on business side from Beckham’s absence?

KLEIN: “No, there hasn’t. We’ve had very few people that have called in and said that they don’t want to come to our games because David is not there. That’s not a slight against David; it’s more of a good thing for the Galaxy. People come out to see the Galaxy and to see us win. David was instrumental in helping us win two championships back to back and I think that is where his greatest contribution was.”

LAGI: “Handing that the business side is your primary job now, what is the state of the organization on that front?”

KLEIN:  “It’s going very well. Last year, our season ticket holders increased almost 100 percent. We were not where we were supposed to be, but we’re looking to add to that again this year. We have a different approach in terms of relating to the local community. Whether it is [community initiatives] or whether it’s relating to the soccer community or whether it’s getting people to come to our games. We want to create an atmosphere that looks and feels like a soccer game that you can see all over the world."

LAGI: “The club has been very aggressive on the marketing side with an outdoor marking campaign across Southern California. How has that impacted the club?

KLEIN: “It helped. Our intention was to be bold with our marketing. We shouldn’t be shy about who we are and who we want to be and that starts at the top with our ownership group with Tim Leiweke and AEG. We’ve won two championships in a row and our expectation is to keep the level very, very high. We have great backing from our owner and I think that’s where it starts. To be able to go out and market the way we do, to have the players that we have and to have the organization and staff that we have says something about our league and about the Galaxy."

LAGI: “Lastly, what is the discord like between the Galaxy and other organizations about marketing strategies? Do organizations regularly share info on what works in their market with other clubs?

KLEIN: “Absolutely. We can all learn from other organizations. One of the great things about our league is that we’re not too proud to ask for help. If we see something that we think works well, what do they say; imitation is the greatest form of flattery. We’re okay to do that and we’re also very open that if someone sees something that we’re doing that makes sense to them, then we’re happy to share that information with them.” 

--

What are your thoughts on Klein's comments? 

Share them below.