Jose Villarreal's life has changed dramatically in just span of two months. The LA Galaxy Homegrown player has quickly developed from youth prospect to one of LA's key contributors.
To investigate Jose's rise, I wrote this feature on the teenager from Inglewood. I'll have a little more on the piece momentarily including the quotes that couldn't make the piece.
Features like this will become a weekly occurrence on LAGalaxy.com ranging from a wide variety of topics.
Without the services of Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, the United States fell 2-1 to Jamaica in a World Cup Qualifier in Kingston on Friday.
The Americans scored just 35 seconds into the match as Clint Dempsey tallied for the Americans. However, the Reggae Boyz roared back with goals from Rodolph Austin in the 23rd minute and Luton Shelton in the 62nd (Highlights of the game can be found here). The USMNT take on the Jamaicans again on Tuesday, September 11th at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Meanwhile, in MLS action, there is just a single game today between the Seattle Sounders and Chivas USA at 1pm, but it carries serious playoff implications for the LA Galaxy. If the Sounders win or draw today at CenturyLink Field, they will have clinched a playoff spot for the current leaders of the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose are currently leading the Supporters' Shield race at the moment and would be the first MLS team to clinch a berth in the postseason.
More to come later in the day.
LA Galaxy midfielder Dan Keat was an unused substitute but New Zealand began their campaign for the 2014 World Cup with a 2-0 victory over New Caledonia.
Shane Smeltz and Chris Wood scored as New Zealand picked up the first victory. Keat and New Zealand continue their campaign on Tuesday, September 11th against the Solomon Islands.
Keat has one appearance for New Zealand having participated in a friendly against Jamaica on February 29th.
Robbie Keane and the rest of Ireland's national team began their qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup in a big way on Friday with a dramatic come from behind victory over Kazakhstan.
Down 1-0 in the 89th minute, the Irish struck back as Keane drew a penalty and slotted in the equalizer. A minute later, Irish forward Kevin Doyle scored the game-winning-goal to put Ireland in the pole position in Group C, a group that contains European heavyweight Germany as well as Sweden.
Keane's goal comes after the Irish forward delivered an interview to the Irish Independent wherein the LA Galaxy forward admitted that he considered retiring from International play after several of his Ireland contemparies goalkeeper Shay Given and midfielder Damien Duff announced their retirement from the Irish squad. However, Keane commited his future to the Irish for the foreseeable future for as long as they are interested in his services.
"I thought about it," Keane told the Irish Independent. "And when Damien and Shay decided to go that way, it was a sad day for Irish football because they've been two of the best players this country has ever seen.
"But the thought of never putting on a green jersey again was quite difficult for me to come around to. Even now, I'm dreading that day. I'll keeping playing on while I'm fit and healthy and as long as the manager picks me.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Christian Wilhelmsson has arrived in Southern California and the Swedish International is hoping to make an immediate impact for the LA Galaxy.
However, Wilhelmsson had plenty more to say, below are his thoughts on Los Angeles and how it relates to his previous experience in Saudi Arabia.
WILHELMSSON: “So far, I haven’t seen so much, it’s like where I come from. Very hot and a lot of traffic. [he last played in Saudi Arabia]. When I start to see other places maybe it’ll be a bit different.”
(On playing in Saudi Arabia…)
WILHELMSSON: “I’ve said it before that it’s a surprisingly good level. It was very hot. As a player it’s not that different from other places. You have your games, you have your rhythm and your routine….It’s the same all most everywhere, but for the family, maybe it’s different with things to do, but not that much.”
(On cultural differences…)
WILHELMSSON: “Culturally, you have to know what is going on, how to be there. You learn quite fast. I tried to be as open as possible and try to respect them. It’s not a problem at all. I’ve been in a lot of places now and to adapt is one of my qualities.”
(On whether Saudi Arabia was difficult for his family…)
WILHELMSSON: “Of course, it was difficult in the beginning, but she [his wife Oksana] got used to it and she enjoyed it with me.”
(On whether he knows David Beckham, Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan…)
WILHELMSSON: “I played against David two times (Sweden vs. England) and Robbie as well with the national team. Donovan, I’m not sure if I know him personally.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan isn't quite back from his nagging hamstring strain, but the Galaxy captain is targeting a return to action during LA's next match on September 14th against the Colorado Rapids.
On Thursday, Donovan caught up reporters for the first time since departing for U.S. national team duty -- where he picked up the strain during the friendly against Mexico -- and discussed his recovery.
CARSON, Calif. -- The high-powered LA Galaxy offense got yet another weapon this week with the addition of dynamic winger and Swedish International Christian Wilhelmsson.
Among those impressed with the move is Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who expects to be on the receiving end of several crosses by the Swede once he returns from a nagging left hamstring strain. Donovan spoke to the media about the Swede and his own health following Thursday's training session.
Below are Donovan's thoughts on the Swede...
DONOVAN: “I’ve only seen him train once now and we all know his resume speaks for itself, but I think that it’s low risk and potentially really high reward for us. We’re fortunate at this club that we get a number of players that reach out and want to play here. It’s a big advantage for us and if he can help us along the way then it will be great.”
(On the depth that Wilhelmsson adds…)
DONOVAN: “We saw our depth last week, we were able to put really our second team on the field and really hammer Puerto Rico here. So that’s going to be important, we know that’s important, we learned that last year and you never know what happens. Robbie’s gone a couple games, David wasn’t training today, I haven’t been training so guys need to be ready to step in and that’s been a really good quality in this team over the last couple years since Bruce has been here.
(On MLS’ perception in Sweden…)
DONOVAN: “I think that Sweden is an underrated national team in the world, I think that they have some very good players and we’re hopeful that one of them can help us here. I think that it’s good that they want to come and play here and I think that you’re going to see more and more of that.”
(On Wilhelmsson proving that MLS is an underrated league…)
DONOVAN: “It’s probably similar to the Swedish league, I think when you don’t know a lot about it, you just assume that it’s not very good. So, I think that the more high quality, high profile players playing here the better because it helps spread the word about how good this league is.”
(On Wilhelmsson giving LA their first true wide player…)
DONOVAN: “It gives us an added element that maybe we haven’t had as much. I think that Hector [Jimenez] does a good job of providing that when he’s playing. He gives us an ability to get wide and to get crosses in front of the goal for a long time, we had Eddie Lewis and Chris Klein here who were more typical wide players, but we’ve kind of gone away from that. Our style of play is a little more different and if you can have players that can provide that it’s really helpful because you can’t just clog the middle and worry about the guys in the middle. You need to pay attention to the guys wide and that’[s something that can be helpful down the stretch.”
(On whether he’d be playing more at forward because LA has that wide presence…)
DONOVAN: “Probably, the good thing now is that we’re getting Edson [Buddle] back in the fold. Jose [Villarreal] played well, [Jack] played well in the game against Puerto Rico so we do have some depth at forward, but there’s a lot of players in the midfield vying for minutes and my guess is that I’ll be primarily used up top.”
(On the team developing more dimensions and perhaps more than last season…)
DONOVAN: “I think that the early part of the year, as bad as it was, was really helpful and I think that it made it really clear, how to be successful and if we don’t do things the right way, then you’re not going to be successful. And now we’re in a really good groove where we understand what it takes. We were talking about how much impact our young players have had this year and it’s really impressive that we have probably 25, 27 guys who could probably play in most teams in this league. It’s a credit to Bruce and what he’s done and Curt with the reserve guys
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may be in the midst of a two week break from MLS play, but there will be no rest for forward Robbie Keane, who has joined up with Ireland for World Cup qualifying.
Keane and the Irish will begin their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign on Friday against Kazakhstan as part of a two match stint hat includes a friendly against Oman in London that the Galaxy forward will not take part of. The Irish face quite the challenge as they are drawn into Group C against Germany, Christian Wilhelmsson’s Sweden, Austria, Faroe Islands and the Kazakhs. The top team from each of the eight groups will qualify automatically while the runners-up take part in a two-leg playoff match.
Below are Keane’s thoughts about Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers….
KEANE: “I’m looking forward to seeing the lads again. We’ve got a long trip to Kazakhstan and obviously, I don’t know too much about them, but I look forward to seeing the guys again and hopefully start to getting back to winning ways with them.”
(On rebounding as a nation from a challenging European Championship…)
KEANE: “I think that as a nation, it’s important that we qualify for every tournament. That needs to start now; we sort of qualify for one and then miss out for ten years or so. That’s not good enough; we need to [qualify] every two years or every four years. It’s important for our nation that we qualify for these tournaments.”
(On the squad’s depth…)
KEANE: “It’s pretty much the same squad that we have. There aren’t many players that have come in, obviously, Shay Given and Damian Duff have retired so, but there was already players in the squad anyway that would take their place so there is not really a big change from a few months.”
(On whether he is in better fitness than his teammates who just started their season..)
KEANE: “Yeah, obviously, their season has just started a couple weeks ago. I’ve played a lot of games and whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure.”
The signing of Christian Wilhelmsson by the LA Galaxy sent shock waves in MLS circles as club's prepare for the stretch run, but I was curious about how the move played in his native Sweden.
In order to find that out, I reached out to one of Sweden's most respected soccer journalists Olof Lundh. Lundh is Editor-in-Chief at noted Swedish soccer website fotbollskanalen.se and also works for Sweden's biggest TV-channel TV4. He has covered the Swedish national team since 1997. It was Lundh who reported that Wilhelmsson had signed a deal with the Galaxy on Monday after he joining LA in training on Friday.
Below is my conversation with Lundh wherein he explains where Wilhelmsson is in his career, his prospects with the Swedish national team and even the origin of his nickname "Chippen"...
Where is Chippen in his career at the moment and how do you feel that he can be best utilized on the field?
LUNDH: "He can't stop aging and of course turning 33 in December makes it tougher to perform at the highest level, but he has a body that is pretty easy to get in shape and i very seldom injured. I think most people were surprised of his performance for
How will Wilhelmsson's move affect his chances with the Swedish national team and what are the perceptions of MLS in Sweden?
LUNDH: "He has a great possibility to be a factor in the national team. Right now Seattle's Adam Johansson is with the national team so I don't expect that a move to LA and MLS will make it difficult for Wilhelmsson as long as he gets to play regularly and performs. The status of MLS has grown the last years with more and more big name players moving there. Wilhelmsson didn't play that much in the European Championship this summer but he was sensational when Sweden beat France. The competition isn't that great either so it's very much up to Wilhelmsson if he wants to be part of the WC-qualifying."
What should LA Galaxy fans know about Wilhelmsson as a player and as a person?
LUNDH: "He is always happy and easygoing and that is a joy for a group like the Swedish national team. Teams need a guy that helps everyone feel welcomed and part of the group and who also performs and is serious with his football. LA Galaxy not only got a great guy but also a player who in his best moments is a powerful winger that can create a lot of chances. LA Galaxy should know that his nickname in Swedish is 'Chippen' which is 'The Chip' in English and he got it as a kid because he was really good with the chip shot."
LA Galaxy Academy stalwart Paul Arriola has been called up by United States Under-18 head coach Javier Perez for the youth national team's upcoming training camp in Netherlands.
A forward, who played for the U.S. in the 2011 U-17 World Cup, Arriola played a key role with the Galaxy during the past two GA Cups, but will play his first U.S. Development Academy season with the Galaxy at the U-18 level this season. Arriola spent last season with Temecula-based youth club Arsenal at the U-16 level, scoring an impressive 15 goals in 17 games. Arriola leaves tomorrow for the training camp that will see the U.S. U-18s train from Sept. 6 through the 17th. During the week, the team is scheduled to participate in friendlies against the U-18 sides of Feyenoord Rotterdam, Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge.
The complete U.S. U-18 roster is below:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ethan Horvath (Unattached; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zackary Steffen (Maryland; Downington, Pa.).
DEFENDERS (5): Michael Amick (De Anza Force; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Suliaman Dainkeh (DC United Academy; Reston, Va.), Dylan Greenberg (Albertson SC; Dix Hills, N.Y.), Trevor Haberkorn (Solar Chelsea SC; Roanoke, Texas), Jalen Markey (Seattle Sounders FC Academy; Renton, Wash.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Marco Delgado (CD Chivas USA; Glendora, Calif.), Romain Gall (FC Lorient; Herndon, Va.), Jacori Hayes (Baltimore Bays; Bowie, Md.), Piakai Henkel (Amiens FC; Arcata, Calif.), Kristian Scott (Stoke City, Winterbourne, England)
FORWARDS (7): Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake Arizona; Rochester, N.Y.), Paul Arriola (LA Galaxy; Chula Vista, Calif.), Julian Green (Bayern Munich; Tampa, Fla.), Benjamin Lopez (Real Salt Lake Arizona; San Diego, Calif.), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union; Dresher, Pa.), Ben Spencer Jr. (CD Chivas USA; Albuquerque, N.M.), Travis Wannemuehler (Indiana Fire Academy; Evansville, Ind.)