WASHINGTON – Michael Stephens bagged his first goal in two years, but even though the midfielder was jubilant at the time of the finish, the memory was bittersweet as LA played to a 2-2 draw with D.C. United on Saturday.
Stephens entered the match in the 78th minute and needed just three minutes to find the back of the net as Robbie Keane fed him near the top the penalty area and he fired a toe-poke shot that rolled past D.C. ‘keeper Bill Hamid. The goal was Stephens’ second career MLS goal and his first since May 29, 2010.
Although the goal was his first in three years, the fact that United equalized three minutes after his strike took much of the shine off his finish.
“It was an important one at the time,” said Stephens. “It would have been a lot better if it would have been the game-winning goal, but at the time it was an important goal and obviously we gave one up, which is unfortunate. But what are you going to do? “
Although he bagged a goal, if LA had not lost A.J. DeLaGarza and Landon Donovan due to injuries then Stephens believes that he probably wouldn’t have seen the field as he has largely been used a defensive substitution.
“I think if you would have told Bruce [Arena] before the game that we were tied or we were losing, I don’t think he would have gone to me,” said Stephens. “But I think the circumstances with injured players allowed me to get in, and I took advantage of the opportunity.”
Now Stephens will look to build on that goal as he is expected to be in the running for a starting position in the Galaxy midfield when they take on Isidro Metapán in CONCACAF Champions League play on Wednesday. With Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas and Gyasi Zardes each going a full 90 minutes in the draw with United and likely dealing with fatigue, Stephens seems poised and ready to turn his goal against D.C. into success in CCL.
“I think that it’s always good to get a goal because it doesn’t happen very often for me, so it was fun,” said Stephens. “The match against Metapán will be important for me and I think we’ll all be ready to go.”
WASHINGTON – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena’s quotes following the team’s 2-2 draw with D.C. United…
Check it out below…
(On the result...)
ARENA: “We’re disappointed. At the end of the game, we’re positioned to have three points and we need to do better in those situations. It was a day where we give D.C. United credit – they played real hard for 90 minutes. We had to battle real hard. We positioned ourselves poorly at the end of the first half by…I call it giving away a goal. Give [Chris] Pontius credit as well for stripping Omar [Gonzalez] and finishing off the play. Then we got the second goal, which should be enough to give us three points, [but] we failed to keep them off the scoreboard at the end of the game, so that’s disappointing.”
(On the physicality of the game and whether that hindered LA...)
ARENA; “It was physical. We got fouled a little bit more than we anticipated, and it was a hard game. We made it a hard game because we were well-positioned early in this game. If we would be smart with the ball and good and tight defensively, we go into halftime with the lead.”
(On Omar Gonzalez’s turnover that led to the first D.C. United goal and whether it was a “teaching moment”…)
ARENA: “If it was a teaching moment, he failed – he got a bad grade, then. He’s experienced enough as a player now; he shouldn’t be in that position. Hopefully, he continues to grow from his experiences.”
(On midfielder Michael Stephens’ goal…)
ARENA: “It was a good goal. Give him credit – it was good to see Mike [Stephens] come off the bench and contribute.”
(On Robbie Keane’s play tonight…)
ARENA: “Robbie [Keane] was on the ball a lot the whole game. His legs were a little bit tired. I think he stood on the ball a little bit too much tonight, and I think that’s attributed o his travel and his fatigue.”
(On Jaime Moreno being inducted into the D.C. United Hall of Tradition…)
ARENA: “Great player – he belongs there. Well-deserved recognition.”
WASHINGTON -- The LA Galaxy will dealt an injury blow on Saturday as A.J. DeLaGarza suffered a dislocated left elbow in the first half of the team's 2-2 draw with D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
DeLaGarza suffered the injury after colliding with the boards behind the Galaxy goal and was immediately substituted for right back Sean Franklin. Typically, elbow injuries can last about four to eight weeks, meaning that LA may be without their starting right back for about a month. Following the match, Galaxy head coach told Time Warner Cable SportsNet that the injury was "not serious."
"[It's an] elbow [injury]," said Arena. "We'll know more when we get back to L.A."
With DeLaGarza out, it's likely that the Galaxy will opt for a tandem of Franklin at right back and Hector Jimenez in the midfield with either Tommy Meyer or Oscar Sorto serving as potential backups on the right side of defense.
The injury, which is graphic is below.
Bruce Arena reflects on D.C. United legend Jaime Moreno as he prepares to enter the club's Hall of Tradition
WASHINGTON— Before Saturday’s match against the LA Galaxy, D.C. United will honor forward Jaime Moreno.
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena will participate in the ceremony as he led United to MLS Cup titles in 1996 and 1997 while also appearing in the 1998 as the franchise was one of the dominant clubs in the league’s early years.
Although Arena has coached a number of talented players during his career, he raves about Moreno.
“Jaime came into the league [in 1996] at 19 years old, was probably the fastest player in the league, technically as good as anyone in the league, and he scored goals,” said Arena. “He had the whole package. He really did. For a number of years, he was just a dominant player in MLS.
“I've coached some good players, and he's as good a player as I've coached in this league, and I've been around [Marco] Etcheverry and Moreno and [Eddie] Pope and [Landon] Donovan and [Robbie] Keane and [David] Beckham. He's in that class, no question about it.”
But just how did the Galaxy boss spot the D.C. United legend?
“He ran circles around Jeff Agoos [in Bolivia’s 1-0 victory over the U.S.] And I was coaching the Olympic team as well at the time. On the bus ride back after the Portugal game at RFK [in July], I was sitting with Sunil Gulati, and I said, 'Let's get him.' And we were able to turn that over kind of quickly.
“And as he would say, I owe my career to him, but I'd say it's the other way, and I'm very disappointed that one of his 50 children aren't named after me,” the Galaxy boss said with a joke.
Moreno’s induction into the Hall of Tradition may not be the only moment that involves the Bolivian soccer legend as Landon Donovan is just two goals away from one goal from tying Moreno’s 134 goals mark, which is second all-time in goals scored.
WASHINGTON – Landon Donovan and the rest of LA’s international contingent is back with the LA Galaxy ahead of Saturday’s match against D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
Although the hyper-focused Donovan is not letting any of the issues of national team duty come into his thinking as he prepares for Saturday, one of the main talking points of Wednesday’s match remains with him—literally. Donovan is still suffering from conjunctivitis in his right eye, which surfaced at some point last week.
The pink eye didn't affect him during his 2-0 victory with the U.S. National Team over Mexico on Wednesday and is unlikely to keep him out of Saturday’s game, but the question remains. Just how did it happen?
“I don’t know,” said Donovan following the team’s training session at American University. “I was getting treatment from the trainers and when I opened my eye it was all red. But I'm fine now and ready for the game on Saturday.”
Although the eye issue is still prevalent, Donovan doesn't expect that—or any national team hangover—to affect him when LA faces D.C. United.
“I feel great. It’s been a really good last week or so. It was a lot of fun for Omar and I to have that experience on Tuesday [against Mexico] and now it’s important to put that behind us and move forward. We have a game that we need to get three points out of and that has to be the focus now.”
And he expects a stern test from a United side that is currently the league’s worst team with just 14 points on the year. In fact, Donovan believes that United are circling this match on their calendar and he feels that LA must be cognizant of that fact.
“They've obviously had a rough year and I’m sure that if odds were made, we’d be the favorites, but this league is built on parity. You never know what could happen,” said Donovan. “We know that they'll have a good crowd; we know that they're excited for this game. Outside of their [U.S. Open Cup Final], this will be their biggest game of the season. We expect to get their best and we need to be ready to play.”
Any one that has ever spoken to or seen a video clip of Bruce Arena knows that he's a person opinionated and affable person and that truly shines in a Q&A that the LA Galaxy boss did with the Washington Post's Steve Goff on Friday.
Arena addresses a myriad of topics in his discussion with Goff that is mandatory reading for all interested in MLS.
Check it out here: A few minutes with Bruce Arena
CARSON, Calif. – He won’t be taking the field during Saturday’s match against D.C. United or any time soon for the LA Galaxy, but one of the Galaxy Academy’s highest touted players Raul Mendiola is starting to blossom.
Mendiola started and went 90 minutes during LA’s scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids reserves on Sunday. Known for his skill with the ball and his impressive displays going forward, the 19-year-old put forth perhaps his most mature performance for the Galaxy reserves. In addition to his characteristic ability to make darting runs behind the defense and combine with the forwards, Mendiola performed aptly on defense as he was able to negate Colorado’s ability to create along the right side of midfield.
“The hard work pays off. I know that I still have to work on some things, but I did well. I just want to keep working hard,” Mendiola told LA Galaxy Insider on Sunday noting that he believes that fitness remains one of the keys to his continued improvement. “I’ve learned from the veteran guys and I try to learn their positioning, both with the ball and without it. I feel like I’m growing little by little and if I keep patience then I’ll continue to grow.”
And Galaxy reserve team head coach Curt Onalfo is beginning to see that evolution.
“I thought Mendiola was menacing for a good 60 minutes. He fatigued a little bit, but he impressed me. He made a lot of things happen and you can see his quality in the final third,” said Onalfo. “He’s turning into a complete player and it’s good to see.”
Maturity is important for the young midfielder from San Bernadino via Ciudad Juarez, who has trained frequently with the Galaxy first team over the past year. At the start of training camp, Mendiola was not present as LA coaching staff—both at the first team and academy level—noted that they’d like to see more maturity from the youngster and after some personal reflection, Mendiola believes that the personal growth is happening.
“Last year was one of my first times with the first team and it was tough for me to get used to it. Over that period though, I matured a lot,” said Mendiola. “I have a mindset and I’ve talked to my family about my goals of being a professional soccer player, so I have it in my mind that I need to stick to this.”
The LA Galaxy spent the day in transit to Washington, D.C. ahead of Saturday’s clash with D.C. United at RFK Stadium, but there were plenty of important stories ahead transpiring across the soccer world.
*Former C.F. Monterrey manager Victor Manuel Vucetich was appointed head coach of the Mexican National Team just days after El Tri slipped to fourth in CONCACAF Qualifying with their 2-0 defeat to the United States. Vucetich becomes El Tri's third manager in five days after interim head coach Luis Fernando Tena took over after the dismissal of Jose Manuel De La Torre following Mexico's 1-0 loss to Honduras last week. Vucetich rose to prominence with Monterrey where he was dismissed last month following a slow start to the Apertura only four months after leading Monterrey to their third consecutive CONCACAF Champions League title—which included a semifinal victory over the Galaxy.
*The LA Galaxy’s much awaited clash with Seattle Sounders FC is still two matches away, but the Sounders are hoping to have one of their key players on the field against the two-time defending MLS Cup champions. Brad Evans, who was forced to withdraw from the U.S. National Team’s World Cup qualifying campaign due to a calf injury, is steadily returning to full fitness according to Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid.
*According to a report by Goal.com, the opening of the San Jose Earthquakes new stadium near Mineta San José International Airport may be delayed until 2015. The Quakes had previously delayed the stadium, which is officially slated to open midway through the 2014 season. If the stadium is delayed, the Galaxy may make two trips to Buck Shaw Stadium next season—provided one of their matches is not held at Stanford Stadium as has been the course of action over the past two seasons. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Earthquakes declined comment on the report.
Think Mexico will qualify for the World Cup? Hoping for a depleted or full strength Sounders side? Will the Earthquakes new stadium open before 2015?
Share your thoughts below.
In the latest edition of "View from the Booth," Joe Tutino and Clint Mathis analyze the LA Galaxy's upcoming match against D.C. United.
Check it out below...
Giovanni Trapattoni departs as Republic of Ireland manager following World Cup qualifying defeat to Austria
If LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane continues his international career with the Republic of Ireland this October, then he’ll do so under a new manager for the first time since 2008.
The Football Association of Ireland announced on Wednesday that head coach Giovanni Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli had departed by mutual consent. The move comes a day after the Ireland’s 1-0 defeat to Austria, which effectively ended their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Italian leaves after a successful five-year tenure that saw the Irish qualify for UEFA Euro 2012, their first major international tournament in a decade as he compiled a 26-16-22 record in 64 matches. Trapattoni nearly guided Ireland to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but were defeated by France in a highly-controversial qualification playoff.
Following Ireland’s defeat to Austria on Tuesday and prior to the announcement of Trapattoni's departure, Keane was asked about his, now former, international manager.
"It is very difficult for a player just coming off a result and speaking about a manager who has done very, very well for this country," said Keane. "He has been a credit to his country and he has carried himself the way a man of his stature should."