TORRANCE, Calif. – A.J. DeLaGarza understands that he's heading into one of the most important seasons of his professional career and the LA Galaxy center back is ready for the challenge.
For the past week, the 25-year-old defender has trained with the U.S. national team in preparation for the Feb. 29 friendly against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The camp is an immense opportunity for DeLaGarza as it represents a chance for him to make an impression with U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann just a year away from the 2014 World Cup.
“We all have an opportunity to make the World Cup [squad] so everyone is excited about this camp because it’s the year before the World Cup and it’s a big year for the U.S," said DeLaGarza. "[There] are a lot of competitions and a lot of games so guys are going to be needed.”
When the DeLaGarza re-joins the Galaxy for preseason, he’ll be faced likely be faced with a position battle with Meyer, who shined during the latter parts of the season and postseason after DeLaGarza went down with a knee injury. Although battling for a starting spot in the Galaxy back four promises to be a challenge, DeLaGarza feels that he is ready for the battle.
"I think that’s when I’m at my best when I’m vying for a spot and I have to come in every single day and do better than someone else or try to do better than someone else,” DeLaGarza said. “Everyone is playing for a spot, no one’s spot is guaranteed."
Whoever lines up at central defense will have a new goalkeeper as Italian Carlo Cudicini takes over the reins from Josh Saunders, who appears to be on his way out of L.A.
“It’ll be good, it’ll be different,” said DeLaGarza. “I’m used to [Donovan] Ricketts and Saunders back there and it’s going to be good though because he’s obviously a leader and played at the top club in the top league in the world.”
Regardless of who is in the starting lineup, DeLaGarza remains confident that the Galaxy can challenge for a third straight MLS Cup title— no matter how different the team will be.
“I feel like we’re going to be a totally different team,” said DeLaGarza. “ We've signed some good players and we've re-signed some players as well so whoever is out there, we’re going to play to win another championship.”
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told BeIn Sport that Brazilian midfielder Juninho was returning the Galaxy in for the 2013 season on Monday morning and now Juninho is offering a confirmation of his own.
On Monday evening, Juninho released a tri-lingual letter in Portugese, English, and Spanish via his official Facebook and Twitter accounts stating that he was returning "home" to the Galaxy -- seemingly for good. During his letter, Juninho expressed his gratitude to his childhood club São Paulo FC where he spent four years before placing him on loan to Brazilian side Toledo in 2008 and the Galaxy in 2009.
After his initial two year loan, Juninho returned to São Paulo in 2011, but despite re-signing with the club was unable to make a single appearance before being loaned back to the Galaxy. Although Juninho said then that he still “had a dream to try to play for São Paulo, it seems that he has made his decision.
"I would like to thank Sao Paulo Futebol Clube for these 10 years I was with the Club. The soccer player that I am today I owe it to you. Thank you for shaping me as the player and [sic] the person I am today. Things change, we have to make choices in life and I'm sure that choosing Galaxy was the right choice. It's a team that always believed in my soccer, that gave me the opportunity to return and show what I have to offer and come back to my fans who have always been by my side. I'm coming home, to our home! To the great team Los Angeles Galaxy."
What are your thoughts on Juninho's return? Excited for a Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas midfield pairing?
Share your thoughts below.
Arena also states the Galaxy are still hoping to bolster their midfield, which may include a Designated Player signing.
"We've been fortunate we’ve been able to re-sign Juninho, so we’ll have him back and (Marcelo) Sarvas and (Mike) Magee back in the midfield," said Arena. "And we need to get another player there and we’re working on it, as well, and there’s a chance we’ll get a designated player that can slip into midfield, as well."
Juninho returns to the Galaxy after another strong season for LA that saw him serve as a staple in Arena's midfield. In his third season for the Galaxy, Juninho made 42 appearances in all competitions while scoring nine goals and six assists. With David Beckham having departed, the Brazilian duo of Juninho and Sarvas is expected to be the Galaxy's midfield pairing heading into preseason.
What remains to be seen, however, is if Juninho is returning on a transfer or another loan from Brazilian side Sao Paulo.
Monday is an off day, but on Sunday, the MLS combine was in full swing on day three of the event.
Below are the highlights from day three.
I'll have more on the Galaxy as well as some players that I believe you should keep an eye on during draft day later in the day
adiPower vs. adiZero
Prime vs. adiPure
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters in December that midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson was unlikely to return to the LA Galaxy in 2013 and now we know where the Swedish midfielder is headed.
According to a report by Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen , "Chippen" was close to a deal with Baniyas SC of the U.A.E. Pro League. This report was later confirmed when Wilhelmsson's wife Oksana tweeted that Wilhelmsson had joined the Abu Dhabi club. The reports come following a series of interviews by Wilhelmsson's agent Fabio Alho stating that Wilhelmsson chose to return to his adopted home on the Arabian Pennisula.
Signed in September, Wilhelmsson finished his time in LA with nine appearances across all competitions while tallying one goal and one assist.
*On Friday, U.S. Under-17 head coach Richie Williams announced the 2013 Spring Residency Roster, which includes LA Galaxy Under-16 midfielder Rolando Muñoz. of Rancho Cucamonga.
*The MLS Combine is continuing in it's second day today with matches at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. There is no streams of the games, but the website Soccer By Ives is providing a live commentry while I'll have highlights once the matches are completed. For more Combine coverage, MLSsocccer.com has the highlights from Day One as well as the results of the Combine's speed, agility, and power tests.
TORRANCE, Calif. -- Edson Buddle may no longer be a member of the LA Galaxy, but the veteran forward will be calling The Home Depot Center home for the next two weeks as he participates in a camp with the U.S. national team.
Buddle was among 25 players -- including former teammates A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez -- called up by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the annual camp, which culminates in a match against Canada on Jan. 29 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The 31-year-old forward endured a whirlwind 2012, which saw him miss 15 matches across all competitions after undergoing knee surgery in May. After scoring three goals in 28 appearances across all competitions in 2012, Buddle was dealt to the Colorado Rapids for allocation money and a 2013 supplemental draft selection on Dec. 14.
As Buddle looks ahead to his new career with the Rapids, he spoke to reporters earlier in the week on time with the U.S. national team, his trade from the Galaxy, and his future in Colorado.
Buddle's thoughts are below...
(On getting the U.S. call up…)
BUDDLE: “It’s kind of random that I got the call, but that’s how it is in soccer and with the national team. I was just trying to be as professional as I can in the offseason in case I do get a call like this. Jurgen has worked with me and I’ve worked with Jurgen, and it’s always a privilege for me…I wasn’t expecting it. I had planned for my offseason with rehab and seeing where my knee was so I can get ready to go to Colorado.”
(On how healthy he is and his plan to return to full fitness…)
BUDDLE: “I can do everything, it’s just when I isolate things with my knee, I can tell the difference and that it’s not as strong as my left…while I’m here, I’m trying to get as close to as hundred percent as possible.”
(On whether he has something to prove…)
BUDDLE: “Every time that I step onto the field, I have feel like I have something to prove. I don’t feel like anything that I did in the past can help me going forward except for just my experience and how I prepare myself. That’s what I do each and every day, I don’t go out with the attitude that I’m owed anything for anything that I’ve done in the past.”
(On the preparations for the camp…)
BUDDLE: “Jurgen has told us that this is not a fitness camp; guys should be ready to play in this camp and preform. I’m sure that we’re going to do some fitness but it is part of the preparations because we have a game to play.”
(On whether 2013 is an important year for him…)
“Each year is a big year for me because I have individual goals and this year, with a new team it’s going to be challenging to get to know new faces and to get everyone on the same page. Individually, [I want] to just get fit and take my team as far as I can go with goal scoring and getting back on track.”
(On whether he was surprised that the trade came on Dec. 14…)
BUDDLE: “Yeah, I was surprised, but I never thought that it couldn’t happen. This is a business and coming into [the Galaxy] I knew that there were salary issues and coming in, I thought I would play every day, but with injuries things happen. It wasn’t a sense of Bruce [Arena] in the locker room not wanting me around. He still played me in the final so it still came as a surprise.”
(On how long it took him to accept the trade…)
BUDDLE: “It didn’t take me a few days, it took me a couple minutes because at first, you get a little anxiety, but it isn’t the worse thing in the world. When I was traded, the shooting in Newton happened and I realized that life isn’t that bad and the trade isn’t that bad because it’s good to be employed.”
(On whether he’s spoken to Colorado Rapids Oscar Pareja…)
BUDDLE: “With the two forwards [Conor Casey and Omar Cummings] gone, I’m kind of curious to see who they’re going to bring in. I was expecting Cummings to be there and now he’s gone so they told me that they’re looking for me to be that person up top to score goals. Hopefully I can provide that and deliver when needed, but they’ve been very welcoming and I expected that coming into a new club. I don’t want to promise anything though; I know that I have to work for everything that I get.”
(On playing at altitude…)
BUDDLE: “Hopefully it can add to my fitness especially this late in my career. Hopefully I can take advantage of that while I’m there.”
LA Galaxy Homegrown players Jose Villarreal and Oscar Sorto have been called up by U.S. Under-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos for a week-long training camp from Jan. 14-22 in Puebla, Mexico.
Joining Villarreal and Sorto is former Galaxy Academy defender Javan Torre who is currently at UCLA.
During the camp, the U.S. will face Panama twice in closed-door matches on Jan. 19 and Jan. 21. Ramos selected Puebla as the location for the U.S. camp as the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship will take place in Puebla from Feb. 18 to March 3. The four countries from the tournament will qualify for the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey, which takes place from June 21 to July 13.
Eight of the 20 players called up to the U.S. U-20 squad are California natives.
The complete list is below...
GOALKEEPERS : Jon Kempin (Sporting Kansas City; Overland Park, Kan.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.)
DEFENDERS: Mikey Ambrose (Maryland; Frisco, Texas), Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Unattached; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS: Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Alejandro Guido (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina; Mission, Texas), Daniel Metzger (Maryland; Holmdel, N.J.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS: Brandon Allen (Georgetown; Old Bridge, N.J.), Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Daniel Garcia (North Carolina; Dallas, Texas), Darius Madison (Virginia; Philadelphia, Pa.), Jonathan Top (FC Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas) Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.)
Coaches from across MLS have descended upon Ft. Lauderdale, FL this weekend for the 2013 adidas MLS Player Combine. The complete schedule can be found here.
As we look ahead to see who the LA Galaxy will nab with the number 19 pick in the first round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and the 24th and 38th selections in the second round, I've compiled a few links to set for the combine.
First off, a must read ahead of draft time is the coverage on Soccer By Ives, starting with his MLS Draft Big Board.
Youth Soccer site Top Drawer Soccer has their own through breakdown of all players available for the SuperDraft as well as positional rankings.
Lastly, MLSsoccer.com has videos, mock drafts and team-by-team previews of their own.
Remember, I'll be on the ground in Indianapolis next week to cover the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
When the LA Galaxy visit the White House this year, they'll have some company with them when they meet President Barack Obama - the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
In a press conference marking the return of the National Hockey League after a lengthy 113-day lockout, Kings Governor and AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke told reporters that the Galaxy would visit the White House on the same day as the Kings.
“We have a tentative date and we’re waiting to see if it works on the president’s schedule,” Leiweke told reporters. “We’re going to take the Kings and the Galaxy on the same day, and do it in one shot with both teams. No one’s ever done that before, but, then again, no city has ever had two championships like this. We’re going to bring all our guys back from the Galaxy, including Mr. [David] Beckham, and all of the Kings during a road trip.”
As for possible dates, the Galaxy's trip to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 15 to face D.C. United seems unlikely as the NHL's lockout shortened 48-game season will already be completed. The Galaxy will travel to the East Coast numerous times before then including a March 30 trip to face Toronto FC as well as a likely seven day jaunt in mid-May that will include matches against the Philadelphia Union on May 15 and New York Red Bulls on May 19.
The Kings schedule has not been released.
Hearing that Pat Noonan has called time on his 10-year MLS career and will become a member of Bruce Arena's coaching staff taking over the assistant coach spot vacated by new Technical Director Jovan Kirovski.
The 32-year-old Noonan ends a ten-year professional career that began in 2003 when he was selected 9th overall in the MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution. During his career, Noonan made stops in New England, Norweigan club Aalesunds SK, Columbus Crew, Colorado Rapids, and Seattle Sounders before joining the Galaxy.
In his lone season with the Galaxy, Noonan made 14 appearances across all competitions scoring two goals. Although Noonan was not a regular for the club during MLS play, he played a valuable leadership role in LA's CONCACAF Champions League campaign.