LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal was among the 18-players called up by U.S. Under-20 head coach Tab Ramos for the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico, but before he left, I caught up with him for this Insider Interview
Check out the video of my interview with Villarreal below.
How do you think the U.S. will perform? Expect Villarreal to lead them to the U-20 World Cup?
Share your thoughts below.
LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Jose Villarreal and Academy product Javan Torre have been named to U.S. Under-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos' 18-man squad for the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico.
Villarreal is one of 11 professional players on the roster, five of which ply their trade in MLS. Meanwhile, Torre, who is recently finished his freshman season at UCLA is one of five players still enrolled in college. Also on the roster is former Galaxy Academy star Mario Rodriguez, who is currently with 1. FC Kaiserslautern in Germany.
The U.S. find themselves in Group A with Costa Rica and Haiti and open the tournament against the Caribbean nation on Feb. 18. The top four teams from the tournament, which runs Feb. 18 to March 3 will advance to the U-20 World Cup in Turkey later this year.This U.S. team is loaded with expectation after the highly-touted 2011 group failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup after falling to Guatemala in the Semifinal round.
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Cody Cropper (Southampton FC; Maple Grove, Minn.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Zackary Steffen (FC DELCO Academy; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (5) : Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (C.D. Guadalajara; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.)
CARSON, Calif. -- An ankle injury has kept LA Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens on the shelf for the club's opening pair of preseason matches, but on Friday, Stephens is set to return to the field as LA take on Real Salt Lake.
Stephens returned to full training on Wednesday and appeared sharp in finishing drills as he practiced with the club's forward and midfield players. In Stephens' absence, second-year midfielder Rafael Garcia has performed well alongside Marcelo Sarvas with LA's starting XI, but after watching his teammates at the start of the preseason, he is ready to return to the field.
"I missed the last two games with my ankle injury and [Wednesday] was my first day back so I'm excited about it," said Stephens."I got in a tackle with [Rafael Garcia] and he stepped on the inside [of his ankle], I had MRIs and everything, but it was nothing so I'll back...obviously, you always want to play, but it's better to miss some time now then having [the injury] happen again in three weeks."
The match will be Stephens' first since the 2012 postseason, but the 23-year-old midfielder isn't going to let his excitement get the best of him.
"It'll be fun to finally playing in another game so I'm definitely a little bit anxious," said Stephens. "But it's a long process and it'll be a long preseason."
CARSON, Calif. -- Charlie Rugg was selected with the LA Galaxy's 19th overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, but nagging groin injury has prevented the 22-year-old forward from seeing much time since preseason began several weeks ago.
However, as LA's third week of preseason winds down, the forward is nearing the practice field and is expected to return to full training by the end of the week.
College Signing Day is a national holiday among those that follow college football. While college soccer’s own signing day does not get the same level of exposure and scrutiny, it is an important deal as well.
Seven LA Galaxy Academy products signed their letter of intent to schools across the country on Friday as they look set to begin the next stage of their soccer development.
Leading the way is Galaxy Academy starlet Paul Arriola, who is currently training with the club’s first team throughout the preseason. Arriola has committed to national powerhouse UCLA for the fall semester. Joining Arriola at UCLA are two other Academy players; defender Nathan Smith and midfielder Willie Raygoza. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Josh McNeely and midfielder Drew Murphy are heading to Isla Vista to attend UC Santa Barbara while highly touted forward prospect Justin Dhillon is heading to Cal Poly.
Rounding out the group is defender Vincent Reyes, who is off to Florida International University in Miami, where he will be coached by Bruce Arena’s son Kenny, a former Galaxy U-16 head coach.
CARSON, Calif. – Fitness concerns with midfielders Juninho and Michael Stephens have forced Rafael Garcia into a starting midfield role at the start of the preseason and the second-year midfielder has wasted no time impressing..
In LA’s victories over the U.S. Under-17 national team and Los Angeles Blues, Garcia has been extremely influential in two first half appearances. As he looks to build upon a rookie season that saw him make a total of five appearances in all competitions, Garcia admits that he is taking whatever chances that he gets in stride.
“It’s been going good. I’m happy to jump in and help out. I’m just working hard and trying to do my thing,” said Garcia. “The team has been helping me out…with pointers here and there, talking from the back line and a few little things, but it’s been coming along well and I’m happy to get the minutes.”
During LA’s opening preseason matches, the second-year midfielder has been partnered alongside midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, who has provided an offensive presence that balances Garcia’s grit and energy.
“We work well together, he obviously brings the experience and I bring the energy so it works well,” said Garcia. “He brings experience so [I learn] when to go on certain runs, when to hold the ball, when to play long.”
But what has Garcia gained in these first two preseason matches? “Mostly fitness,” he admits, but also plenty of “confidence and motivation.”
“Anytime that you get to start a game whether it’s a practice game or a real competition, it’s always an honor,” said Garcia. “For me, I just look at it as I have to keep working hard and when my number gets called, I just have to learn from these opportunities.”
LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez started and went 90 minutes in the U.S. national team's 2-1 defeat to Honduras in a World Cup Qualifier
Gonzalez started alongside former Houston Dynamo defender and current Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron in the middle for the U.S. national team. Clint Dempsey put the U.S. ahead in the 35th minute off a beautiful through-ball from Jermaine Jones.
However, Honduras tallied two unanswered goals with the first coming in 39th minute on Juan Carlos Garcia's incredible bicycle kick goal that blew past goalkeeper Tim Howard. Honduras went ahead for good in the 78th minute when the Central Americans capitalized on a defensive lapse by the U.S. with Jerry Bengston giving Honduras the victory.Gonzalez had a stoppage time header, but fired his chance over the bar.
Complete highlights of the game are below...
How do you feel Gonzalez performed? Do you expect him to start when the U.S. continue the Hexagonal against Costa Rica on March 22 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park?
Share your thoughts below.
Omar Gonzalez is facing an important test on Wednesday as he slots into the starting lineup for the U.S. national team for their World Cup Qualifier against Honduras in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
The U.S. national team lineup for the Qualifier is as follows:
Howard; Chandler, Gonzalez, Cameron, F. Johnson; Williams, Bradley, Jones; E. Johnson, Dempsey; Altidore.
What are your thoughts about Gonzalez starting? Do you think that he can perform well?
Share them below.
The LA Galaxy held Media Day on Monday with plenty of action and cool inside looks...I've compiled all of the pieces into one location...
*LAGalaxy.com released a Storify stream of all the photos that were tweeted from the club's official Twitter account.
*Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable Deportes provided of photos of their own including a large photo gallery.
Lastly, LAGalaxy.com followed Jose Villarreal and Bryan Gaul through the activities in the video below...
LAGalaxy.com's videographer Paolo Ferrari has provided a highlight video of Tuesday's 3-0 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Blues.
Check out the highlights below...