Beat

25 June 4:24 pm

According to Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, Landon Donovan's U.S. National Team absence is about to come to an end.

SI.com reported on Tuesday afternoon that Donovan will be included in Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. squad for the 2013 Gold Cup. The 31-year-old Donovan was not included in the U.S. roster for last month's World Cup Qualifiers and has not taken the field for the U.S. since last August. U.S. Soccer is expected to make the squad official sometime this week.

The tournament runs from July 6 to July 28 across the U.S. and wILL likely cause Donovan to miss all five of the LA Galaxy's league matches in July. 

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Thoughts on Donovan returning to the U.S.? Upset that he may miss an entire month's action?

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25 June 4:14 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Jose Villarreal burst on the scene last year with the LA Galaxy first team and quickly became a staple for his club and the U.S. U-20. But while the eldest Villarreal was scoring astounding goals, his younger brother Jaime has sought to showcase his own skills.

There are plenty of similarities between the two, right down to their maturity, size (both stand about 5-foot-8), and even the need to undergo bilateral compartment surgery. Jose went under the knife to correct the issue during his first preseason with LA in February 2012 while Jaime had the surgery more than seven months later.

Since the injury, Villarreal has blossomed into one of the U-18’s brightest stars with four goals in 10 appearances, many of the tallies coming during the stretch run that saw the Galaxy defeat Real Salt Lake-Arizona for the Southwest Division title. Galaxy U-18 head coach Alex Yi is well aware that Jaime looks to his older brother for inspiration as he tries to follow in his footsteps.

“I know that Jose is an inspiration for Jaime and Jaime was fortunate enough to play with Jose last year with the U-18's,” said Yi.

But the youngest member of the Villarreal clan has chosen a different word to describe his feelings.

“It’s motivation,” said Villarreal. “A lot of people expect for me to do the same as him, but just watching him puts my own expectations up high so I have to do a good job.”

But his older brother’s success isn't the only motivation for the young midfielder. Following his injury, Yi dared Villarreal to reach top level fitness and become a regular for the U-18’s. And with the Galaxy in the Development Academy Playoffs on the precipice of a place in Finals Week in July, with Villarreal contributing along the way, he has clearly passed with flying colors.

“My challenge to Jaime was to get himself to the level of fitness that an elite player should have. Everything that I've thrown at Jaime, he’s embraced it and taken it on. He’s always been a mature kid and he always had a very, very high soccer IQ. It was just a matter of getting his fitness back to where it should be…and Jaime is, I think, in the best shape that I've seen him with the Galaxy.”

25 June 3:28 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy Under-18’s began the Development Academy with a bang as they crushed the San Jose Earthquakes 4-1 in their tournament opener. Not much time to celebrate, however, as they look to lock up a spot in Finals Week against regional powerhouse Dallas Texans.

The club that developed the likes of Omar Gonzalez, Clint Dempsey and numerous others held firm in their first group 8 match by playing the New England Revolution to a 1-1 draw. With just one team advancing from group play onto Finals Week in July the stakes will be high heading into Tuesday’s clash.

Although mystery is a common element in youth soccer matches, Galaxy U-18 coach Alex Yi is quite familiar with the Texans industrious style of play.

“They’re a very good club. We know Dallas Texans pretty well. I lived in Dallas for a couple of years and watched a lot of David Hudgell’s teams,” said the former FC Dallas defender. “His teams are very respected and have a very particular style of play. Also, they’ll be playing in front of their families and fans, so that will be a tough one.”

As for that "particular style of play," Yi describes it in just two words “very physical.”

“They will like to hit long balls into channels where they will have big athletic guys who will run down balls, second balls, pick them up and go from there. For us, it’s about being in a good starting position defensively and dealing with those first and second balls,” said Yi. “Also, keeping possession of the ball and not letting them find a rhythm. They’re a team that once they have the rhythm, they could really punish you. It’s about being very disciplined and clean on set pieces.”

The style may be different than the one the more technical Galaxy side play, but forward Jaime Villarreal sees more than a few similarities between the two teams.

“They’re very good defensively, and they’re a similar to team to us because they have a lot of Hispanics and they touch the ball really well,” said Villarreal. “But we have to be the better team, keep the possession, and attack smart.”

The two teams also have a long history of facing off against one another with one match sticking out above all others. In July of 2011, the Galaxy U-16’s defeated the Texans 4-0 using six of the players who will likely suit up on Tuesday.   Although the Galaxy won by a convincing margin as they eventually clinched the Development Academy title, the match was marred by two red cards for LA.

With a chance to practically lock up Finals Week qualification on the line, Yi doesn’t expect his young charges to lose their discipline again.

“These guys will remember that. The thing that these guys have is experience,” said Yi. “They’ve played the Dallas Texans before and these memories don’t fade fast. They’ll know what it takes.”

25 June 10:19 am

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s reported pursuit of Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos has taken another turn.

According to the Spanish daily Marca, an 8 million euro transfer bid to Dos Santos’ current club, Mallorca as well as a 2 million euro contract offer were rejected by the 24-year-old. LA’s offer wasn’t the only one to be reportedly rejected as Marca reports that Mallorca rejected a significantly smaller bid from Spanish giants Valencia.

That’s not all, however, as the Spanish newspaper goes on to state that a bidding “war” could be brewing for Dos Santos between the Galaxy and Valencia.

When reached for comment, the Galaxy declined comment on the report.

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Thoughts on Dos Santos rumors? Could the Galaxy win a bidding war with a Spanish side?

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25 June 8:47 am

To advance from the Development Academy "Group of Death," the LA Galaxy Under-18's were going to need a massive performance from forward Justin Dhillon, and in the first game of the tournament, he delivered.

Dhillon scored a hat trick while Sebastian Velasquez added a fourth goal as the Galaxy U-18's crushed the San Jose Earthquakes U-18 side 4-1 in their first match of the tournament. The Cal Poly commit has now scored 20 goals in U-18 Development Academy games this season after scoring 17 times during the regular season. Sebastian Velasquez scored the fourth and final goal for LA. 

In the other action from group eight, Dallas Texans drew the New England Revolution 1-1. A full recap of LA's match and the rest of the games can be found at Top Drawer Soccer.

The Galaxy U-18's are back in action on Tuesday night against the  Texans. Their match against the club that produced the likes of Omar Gonzalez and Clint Dempsey kicks off at 7:15 p.m. PT.

24 June 2:41 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy Under-18’s return to Texas this week for the Development Academy Playoffs and will be eager to apply the lessons of their last trip to the Lone Star State.

In March, the Galaxy went 1-2-0 during their participation in Dallas Cup, finishing third in the group. Although the Galaxy were unable to advance to the knockout stages, they were competitive in their two defeats to eventual tournament champions Fulham and Brazilian power Coritiba.

As they look to this week’s Development Academy Playoffs in Frisco, Texas, which begin with a match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Monday, the Galaxy look to show off what they learned at Dallas Cup. 

“I think that we got a good experience off of that,” said midfielder Jaime Villarreal. “We played lots of good teams from across the country and it helped us more when we came back because we saw their high expectations. It was good for us and made us a better team.”

Galaxy Under-18 head coach Alex Yi believes that having played against some of the top teams in the world will aid his team as they look to advance from a tricky group 8 that includes San Jose Earthquakes, Dallas Texans, and the New England Revolution.

“I think it’ll help a lot,” said Yi. “For kids who aren't professionals and aren't used to having to bring that type of focus and competitiveness to every game, having been to those types of games gives you calm and confidence.

“They can think that ‘I've been here before; I've been in these types of situations or I've played against a Fulham who won at Dallas Cup and we could have gotten something out of that game,’” Yi added. “It lets you know how fine a line it is between success and failure. It helps them know what it takes to succeed in those types of environments.” 

24 June 12:57 pm

A late equalizer by Daniel Cuevas gave the U.S. a 1-1 draw with France at the U-20 World Cup to preserve the Americans hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds.

Cuevas came into the match in the 77th minute replacing Jose Villarreal and eight minutes later, he notched the equalizer with a goal off a free kick by Luis Gil. Although the U.S. earned their first point of tournament, they had numerous opportunities to beat the French as Mario Rodriguez earned a penalty in the 64th minute, but Luis Gil was unable to convert.

All four Galaxy Academy graduates saw time against France as Villarreal went 77 minutes in a start while Oscar Sorto made his tournament debut by going a solid 45 minutes after coming on at the half. Sorto was particularly impressive as he was placed at his natural right back spot, which allowed head coach Tab Ramos to push explosive DeAndre Yeldin into the attack more.  Meanwhile, Rodriguez and Javan Torre each went a full 90 minutes.  

The U.S. will need a win in their final group match against Ghana on July 27 to have any hopes of qualifying for the Round of 16

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Can the U.S.advance?

24 June 10:45 am

CARSON, Calif. –LA Galaxy’s Bruce Arena’s has voiced his concerns over the MLS schedule before and following Sunday’s SuperClasico, the LA boss took aim at the schedule’s incapability with the FIFA calendar.

During his postgame press conference for LA’s 1-0 victory over Chivas USA, the discussion turned from LA’s win to the possibility of Landon Donovan joining up with a U.S. B squad for the 2013 World Cup.

Let’s just say that the Galaxy boss was less than supportive of the schedule conflict.

 “That's what this league is. This is the way the league operates. When you can't be in sync with an international calendar, that's the reality of things,” said Arena. “We've been well aware of [the Gold Cup] before the year started. It's crazy. It skews the competition in the league, but it is what it is. What are you going to do?”

Following Arena’s response, a reporter chimed in that Arena could attempt to hold Donovan out of the squad and the Galaxy head coach was quick to mention that “no decision’s been made yet” about the midfielder. But it will be difficult for Arena to hold Donovan out of the competition as it offers the veteran a chance to rejoin the U.S. for the first time since their 1-0 win over at Mexico last August.

However, after losing defender Omar Gonzalez for three matches due to friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, Arena is not a fan of the situation.

“I think the whole thing is foolish, to be honest with you, coming off the players disappearing for a month with the World Cup qualifying as well,” said Arena. “It's a major problem we have with scheduling in the league, and it damages the competition. We have to find other ways to fit the schedule in where teams are not impacted due to the FIFA calendar.”

24 June 12:15 am

CARSON, Calif. -- It was the Gyasi Zardes show on Sunday as the forward was dynamic and scored the lone goal in the LA Galaxy's 1-0 victory over Chivas USA.

I spoke to Zardes and some of his teammates about his performance in this piece for LAGalaxy.com.

It is clear based on his performance as of late that Zardes has grown considerably since the preseason, but why and how has he matured?

 “You get more comfortable as you play more; little things are starting to happen a little more slowly for him. He’s not as hectic and rushed as he had been," said midfielder Landon Donovan. "His passing has gotten better. Initially, he was just focused on making some space for himself and getting a shot, but now his passing has gotten better. He’s a little better holding the ball and we just have to keep moving him along."

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Thoughts on Zardes' performance?

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24 June 12:11 am

CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy snapped their four game winless streak on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA.

My Three Points to the match can be found here.

A few notes below...

*Gyasi Zardes' goal was the Galaxy's first since June 8, ending a 179 minute goal drought. The goal was the second of his career. 

*The Galaxy earned their first win since May 26. 

*Chivas USA is winless in their last ten games.

*The attendance for the game was 14,575. 

*In 27 regular season meetings between the two teams, the Galaxy is 17-4-6 and have scored 43 goals on their bitter rivals.