CARSON, Calif. -- One win is all that separates the LA Galaxy from moving one step closer to defending their 2011 MLS Cup title.
With a victory over the worst team in MLS, Toronto FC the Galaxy will clnch a berth in the 2012 MLS playoffs. LA head into the match as heavy favorites due to their 7-0-2 record in all competition while TFC have not registered a win since July 18th, going 0-6-3 in that span. But despite the completely opposite records of both teams as of late, the best way to describe is simple, "It's a trap." During the nine game winless run, Toronto has lost only one game by more than one goal, but throughout the season, TFC have shown an inability to close out games having conceded 17 goals in the last 15 minutes this season.
TFC are likely to be led by the attacking duo of Ryan Johnson and East Los Angeles native Luis Silva, who have shown an ability to create numerous scoring chances despite their poor finishing. A playoff berth hanging in the balance, Galaxy forward Landon Donovan and A.J. DeLaGarza admit that LA is not taking Toronto for granted.
DONOVAN: "We weren't exactly our best at the beginning of the year, but they're a much improved team even from when we played them and I think that Paul Mariner has done a really good job with them. You can tell that they have a different attitude and a different mentality. They really believe that they can win every game, regardless of where they are in the standings, when you watch them play, they believe that they can win every game. They've played a lot of good playoff teams very difficult, they've won some games, they've taken points from some teams so we have to be alert."
DELAGARZA:"It'd be nice to clinch no matter what, we have five games left and a single win would put us in. It'd defnitely be good to get it out of the way and out of our minds against a team that knocked us out of a competition that we thought taht we could have won or at least, gone pretty far. It's a big game, these are the most dangerous teams to play, they have nothing to lose so they can go after it. They don't have to sit and defend if they don't want to. We just have to be aware of that and limit their chances."
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy's 2012 campaign began with a shock exit in the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League at the hands of Toronto FC, but now nearly six months later, LA will have their shot at redemption against TFC.
LA's exit from the CCL sent the Galaxy stumbling out of the gate, with the club even being mired in last in the Western Conference at one point. But now, on the heels of their rematch with a TFC that is currently in last place in MLS, LA have the ability to not only eliminate past demons, but clinch a playoff berth in the process as a win over Toronto can put LA into the 2012 MLS Playoffs.
Below are thoughts from Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan and Mike Magee on facing TFC...
DUNIVANT: "They’ve had our number this year at least. Traditionally, they’ve done well against, they always get up for the game whether it’s at our place or theirs, they’re up for it. Last year, they came back and scored a couple of late goals to tie it up and this year, they knocked us out of the Champions League so there is certainly some history there and they’ve done well against us so we’re not going to take this game lightly by any means."
DONOVAN: “That left a sour taste in all of our mouths. We’re not happy with the way that finished and we’re lucky that we get a chance at redemption.”
MAGEE: “ Toronto's got our number so we're definitely not overlooking them. I don't know if it's a rivalry, but it’s definitely something that when you found out you’re playing them, you remember what it felt like to be eliminated in Champions League. It definitely left a bad taste in our mouth.”
The LA Galaxy will pay tribute to their first ever MLS Cup winning side on Saturday.
Before their match against Toronto FC, LA will host Alumni night and honor the 2002 MLS Cup winning side. The festitvaties include an induction into The Home Depot Center Wall of Legends as well as an Alumni match at 5:30pm ahead of the 7:30p.m. kick off for the main event. (More about Alumni night can be found here). To get you in the right frame of mind, legendary Galaxy radio announcer Joe Tutino has provided a series of special pieces of content on LA's first MLS Cup winning team.
First, Tutino tells the story in his own words with this story on the club.
Tutino and 2002 Assistant coach Ralph Perez provided a special edition of the All-Access podcast below:
Lastly, a special video on the Galaxy's history, also narriated by Tutino.
Good morning everyone,
It is time for the eighth edition of "Ask the Insider." Today's question comes is from Luis Martel What do you think of Bruce Arena's starting XI? And do you think Bruce cares about the CCL?
The starting XI in the matches against the Puerto Rico Islanders has beeen a source of contention for many in the LA Galaxy twitterverse and while I'll admit to initial shock when I first saw the lineup sheet before the match in August, I believe the youth-laden squad has been successful in the two matches that they have played so far in the CONCACAF Champions League. Not only have they earned important results (a 4-0 win at The Home Depot Center in August and a tricky 0-0 draw in Puerto Rico) to keep the Galaxy in front in Group 5, but the young squad has performed very well in both matches, further increasing their own development. But aside from boosting the confidence and form of the young players, depth is critical when attempting to advance in contintential and domestic competitions and the use of the young squad keeps LA's first team fresh for important league matches.
To answer the second part of your question, I think it is immensely clear that Bruce Arena and the entire Galaxy organization have put a lot of emphasis into the CCL and aspire to become the first MLS team to reach the Club World Cup. Following the club's shock exit from the CCL in March, both players and coaches admitted that falling in the CCL to a great deal out of the team as it been an important priority for the Galaxy to advance in the competition. Aside from the assurances from the club's coaches and players about winning the tournament, even AEG President Tim Leiweke has come out numerous times stating that it is important for the Galaxy as a club and as a brand to win the CCL.
Thanks, Luis you can get your tickets by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For everyone else, remember to leave your questions on the LA Galaxy Facebook page following the club's next match against Toronto FC on September 22th for the chance to have your question featured and win tickets to an upcoming Galaxy game.
As we begin to turn the page from Wednesday's scoreless draw between the LA Galaxy and the Puerto Rico Islanders in CONCACAF Champions League play, check out this interview video by LAGalaxy.com of defender Andrew Boyens.
Boyens went 90 minutes in the scoreless draw with the Islanders and heaped considerable praise on goalkeeper Bryan Perk while delving into his own experience with humid conditions.
If you listen closely, you can hear me asking questions to the defender.
BAYAMÓN -- Rafael Garcia and the rest of the rest of the LA Galaxy attack created plenty of chances on Wednesday night, but LA were unable to find the back of the net, settling for a scoreless draw on Wednesday.
The rookie midfielder was by far the most active member of the Galaxy throughout the match as he completed an 55 of his 62 pass attempts on Wednesday. One of his passes helped create one of the Galaxy's best scoring chances of the night in the 49th minute when he sent a ball over the top to Kenney Walker, whose shot from close distance was saved by Puerto Rico goalkeeper Richard Martin. The 23-year-old midfielder had a chance of his own in stoppage time, but fired the shot just over the crossbar.
With a strong performance against the Islanders, Garcia is likely to be in contention for a starting position during LA's next CONCACAF Champions League match on October 25th against Isidro Metapán.
Below are Garcia's thoughts on the match...
GARCIA: “It’s a hard environment and I think that may have had something to do with it, but the fact of the matter is that we didn’t show as much as we should of. For whatever reason, it wasn’t clicking, we got a second wind when Landon, Juni and Marcelo came in and we created a few more opportunities, but it was a tough night for our offense.”
(On Brian Perk's performance)
GARCIA: “Outstanding. A shutout on the road, it doesn’t get any better than that, I thought his leadership was second to none, he organizes well so we couldn’t be happier.”
(On the implications for group play…)
GARCIA: “We knew that with a win today, we could have maybe clinched and now we just have to go to El Salvador and get a result there. We know that it’s not going to be easy, the environment is obviously tough there, but we just have to be ready for it.”
(On whether Arena will keep the young group together in El Salvador…)
GARCIA: “Those decisions are up to them. I’m sure that the guys that get called up are more than happy to get out there and give it their best, but like I said, whatever that they decide, we support it 100%.”
If you were unable to watch last night's scoreless draw between the LA Galaxy and the Puerto Rico Islanders -- or like me, were unable to see replays of the action down in Puerto Rico--our friends at Univision Deportes have published highlights on the match.
BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico -- Landon Donovan was well-aware that it was never going to be easy when the LA Galaxy traveled to the Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium on Wednesday. It certainly wasn't.
The Galaxy battled not only an extremely eager and active Islanders side desperate to stay in the CONCACAF Champions League, but the intense humid conditions and less than ideal field at the JRL Stadium. Despite the scoreless draw, the match was a back-and-forth affair with both sides trading chances throughout as both goalkeepers were repeatedly called in to action to preserve the shutout.
One of the primary offensive catalysts for the Galaxy in the second half was Donovan, who came on in the 60th minute for Pat Noonan -- his first appearance in the CCL this campaign -- and proceeded to spark several scoring chances for LA. Donovan became even more effective late as he was able to move from a free ranging role in the center to a position up top once Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas entered the match, but ultimately LA was unable to get the tying goal.
Below are Donovan's thoughts from the match...
DONOVAN: “We wanted to win, but we knew this would be a different game from the one a few weeks ago. Give them a lot of credit, they played that game like it was a World Cup final. They did a good job defensively, they created a couple chances and I think in the end, we needed one good play, one special play to win the game and we couldn’t find it today.”
(On the conditions…)
DONOVAN: “Yeah, I think that our guys wore out a little bit at the end. You can tell that they’re a lot more used to playing in this then we are, they had some good energy still at the end. I think that Bruce did a good job of getting some of us fresh guys into the game to try and make a play, but on the night it just wasn’t going to be.”
(On the play of Perk…)
DONOVAN: “Perk was great, he made one good save early and one good save late and was really solid in between. I thought our back four did a good job, Kenney and Rafa did a good job, it’s just a shame that we let that performance go without winning because they played well and Perk played well.”
(On the result's implications on Group 5…)
DONOVAN: “Well, we’ll see if Puerto Rico beat Metapán here then it’s over and even if they tie, it’s going to make it really difficult. We’ll do a little scoreboard watching and hope that it is all wrapped up, but if not then we have to go in there and win, which we’re prepared to do.”
BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico -- The LA Galaxy earned plenty of chances on Wednesday night, but ultimately failed to score as they settled for a scoreless draw against the Puerto Rico Islanders.
Whether it was the Galaxy's difficulty finishing, the stellar play of LA goalkeeper Brian Perk or the energetic play of the Islanders, there were no shortage of storylines on Wednesday.
Do you agree with my Points? What were your points?
Share your thoughts below.
Due to the lack of internet once we depart the stadium, here is a brief post of notes from Wednesday's scoreless draw between the LA Galaxy and the Puerto Rico Islanders.Quotes and reaction coming once we have internet on the team's charter.
*Tonight was Edson Buddle's first start for the Galaxy since tearing his right mensicus on May 26th against the Houston Dynamo. Buddle made his first appearance since undergoing right knee surgery in June during LA's victory over the Islanders in August. For the most part, Buddle struggled to get going offensively as he still appears to be battling the effects of his knee surgery.
*Brian Perk was fantastic on the night making seven saves -- four coming in the second half -- for the Galaxy including two key stops in the final ten minutes to keep the game scoreless. His counterpart Richard Martin made four savse.
*With the result, the Puerto Rico Islanders are now eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League.
*The Galaxy tallied seven corner kicks on the night and 12 fouls as well as 14 shots. Puerto Rico meanwhile tallied three corners, ten fouls and 11 shots.
*The match was Landon Donovan's first appearance in the 2012/2013 CCL campaign. He was injured with a left hamstring strain for the matches against Isidro Metapan and Puerto Rico at The Home Depot Center.
*Jay Needham and David Foley were electric for the Islanders as they led Puerto Rico's high pressure defense whcih kept LA's attack under wraps.
*A.J. DeLaGarza, Jose Villarreal and Michael Stephens remain under yellow card watch heading into the final match against Isidro Metapan on October 25th in El Salvador. Remember, that yellows stick with players until after the quarterfinal round.