MEXICO CITY— Stefan Ishizaki’s experience with playing at altitude is quite limited due to his long playing career in the lowlands of Scandinavia and Italy, but on Tuesday, he received a major test.
The Swede started as the Galaxy fell 2-1 to Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City. Playing in “D.F.” presents a number of challenges for opposing players, but none greater than the suffocating elevation of a city that sits at an altitude of 7,350 ft.
During his 45 minute shift, Ishizaki was stationed in the center of midfield in front of defensive counterweight Baggio Hušidić as LA tried out a 4-1-3-2 formation during the first stanza. However, Ishizaki admittedly struggled to make an impact early.
“It was brutal. My first 25 minutes, I could not catch my breath. It was very tough. After 25 minutes, I got into the game and felt a lot better,” said Ishizaki. “But we played against a Mexican team with a style that we’re probably going to face when we play Tijuana and it was good to see that style first hand.”
“In our half, we did an okay job. We didn’t move our feet quick enough and we let them play through us too easily. I think that was because we didn’t have the energy to be quick,” Ishizaki continued. “The elevation played a part a little bit, but we train every day to be able to do these things. We weren’t able to do it today against a team in the middle of their season, despite having a month left of preseason.’
Although he was unable to get forward frequently on Tuesday, Ishizaki, who is likely to play wide on the right during the regular season, was pleased with the chance to play centrally against Pumas.
Said Ishizaki, “I like it. I like it a lot better when I’m fitter and I can make runs and support the strikers while also go down and get the ball from the back four. I like it when I’m fitter, but it was okay, particularly in the last 25 minutes of the half.”
And as for the altitude and travel to Mexico City? Ishizaki believes that the experience will serve LA well as the season begins.
“It was a good exercise. We have to get use to the travel and we’re going to play at elevation so it’s good to get used to it,” said Ishizaki. “I’m not used to it after playing in Europe. It was a good experience for me and now I have some idea what to expect.”
MEXICO CITY -- Ahead of Tuesday's closed-door scrimmage with Pumas UNAM, the LA Galaxy had a chance to practice at the training facilities of the seven-time Mexican champions on Tuesday.
The session lasted just over an hour and was attended by more than 30 representatives from Herbalife Mexico.
The photos can be seen below.
CCL Preview: Club Tijuana leave it late, but extend home unbeaten run with 2-1 victory over Monterrey
It turns out all Club Tijuana needed to return to winning ways was a little home cooking.
Back at the Estadio Caliente, Dario Benedetto and Cristian Pellerano scored as Tijuana erased a second half deficit to defeat C.F. Monterrey 2-1, moving up to sixth place in the 2014 Torneo Clausura. The win extended Xolos’ home unbeaten streak to 17 games.
After a back-and-forth first half, Monterrey attacker Cesar Delgado put Los Rayados up in the 65th minute when he launched a shot from beyond the penalty area that sailed past Xolos goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo.
Tijuana needed just 10 minutes to equalize when Benedetto, who came on for American Herculez Gomez in the second half, smashed a close-range opportunity into the back of the Monterrey net. The winner came in the 86th minute as a Juan Hernandez header found a lurking Pellerano setting up an easy finish for the Argentine midfielder.
Club Tijuana returns to action on Feb. 14 when they travel to Torreon to take on Santos Laguna with hopes of snapping their 17-match road winless streak.
Highlights from the match against Monterrey are below...
Less than 20 hours after defeating FC Shirak on Saturday, the LA Galaxy hit the road bound for Mexico ahead of a week of preseason preparations away from StubHub Center.
I’ll be providing analysis and coverage during the Galaxy’s travels this week, which include a trip to Mexico City to face Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage before the team returns to the U.S. and makes a brief jaunt to Central California for a match against the San Jose Earthquakes in Fresno.
Check back for more details later.
CARSON, Calif. – It was quite a day for Gyasi Zardes.
The LA Galaxy striker scored the game-winner in LA’s 2-1 victory over Armenian club FC Shirak on Saturday and then revealed to the world that he and his wife Madison will be having their first son who is due in March with a trademark ‘rock the baby’ celebration following his strike. The goal was extra sweet for Zardes, who readily admits that his inaccuracy during the 2013 season was due to his eagerness to “blast everything,” but on Saturday, he was able to calmly launch a shot from 20 yards into the back of the net.
“It feels wonderful. You work hard in training and putting one in the back of the net during a game it feels great,” said Zardes who had four goals in all competitions last season. “It felt good to get back up top, I feel like I’ve been away [from the position] for a while, but whether it’s wide or up top, I love playing both positions.”
According to Zardes, it was a training game that he played with Associate head coach Dave Sarachan that helped refine his touch heading into the 2014 season.
“I felt I was more composed once I collected the ball and I just looked up and placed my shot. It's all due to a game we play with Dave called ‘Knockout,’” said Zardes. “The ball comes at you at the top of the D and you control it and place it. I felt like that repetition helped me on that goal.”
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may have played most of their players during Saturday’s victory over FC Shirak, but there was one notable exception: midfielder Robbie Rogers.
Rogers was unavailable for the match against the Armenian side after suffering a left ankle sprain. The injury is an unfortunate one for Rogers who endured multiple injuries in 2013 and had been one of the team’s top performers in the preseason to date.
Although Rogers was unable to take the field against Shirak, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was hopeful that he’d be back on the field soon.
“Just an ankle [injury]. He’ll be ready to go soon,” said Arena. “A lot of players get injuries. It’s part of the game … his is a little unfortunate, it came out of nowhere, but he’ll be fine. He started the preseason off well and I’m hopeful that he’ll be back."
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena addressed the media following his team's 2-1 victory over FC Shirak on Saturday.
His thoughts are below.
(On the team's showing against F.C. Shirak...)
ARENA: “I thought it was a good exhibition. I thought FC Shirak played really well, they put a lot of pressure and they tested us. Obviously they looked like a team that was a little more fit than we were. I think it was a good game. They are very well organized, good pace on the counter. They put our guys in some difficult situations, which is good. I think it was a very good exhibition match at this time of the year, obviously there is a lot of things we have to work on. ... The group in the second half played well. They were tested a bit more in the first half. We can detect some areas we need to work on, but I’m pleased overall, being able to play all of tonight’s players. Just getting a better feel for our team.”
(On Samuel getting a goal...)
ARENA: “Anytime a striker scores a goal it’s good for his confidence. I think he has a way to go, his fitness has to get better, he’s still not on the same page as all the guys. But he has worked real hard, and has made progress since he’s been here so that’s good to see.”
(On Gyasi Zardes Scoring...)
ARENA: “Very good finish, I don’t think he would’ve finished that play last year. He had a good night, and we are going to be playing him in both positions.”
(On the play of Raul Mendiola...)
ARENA: “He is a little raw, but he plays with confidence. A lot of good plays, some not so good, but good for his first time.”
(On triaist Dan Gargan and James Riley as well as the rest of the defense...)
ARENA: “Both are experienced players, I was surprised Riley had as much in him because he just came in this week and hadn’t trained much, and to get 30 solid minutes is good. Dan had an injury last week and held up well. I thought [Kofi Opare] and [Kyle Venter] did well and I thought that Leonardo had a very good night for us. Omar was solid, and it was good to see. ”
(On FC Shirak players and whether they could play in MLS...)
ARENA: "A lot of them [could], [Tigran Davtyan] was good, the pace of [Serge Deble] was very good, the center back [Kadio Boris] was very good, and [Davit Hakobyan] was good. [They have] a bunch of good players. It’s an experienced team, played in [both] the Champions League and the Europa League. There's good experienced players out there."
Below is a photo gallery provided by LAGalaxy.com of LA's 2-0 victory over FC Shirak.
The LA Galaxy take the field at StubHub Center for the first time in 2014 on Saturday when they take on Armenian champions FC Shirak.
The match begins at 6pm and will be televised on Time Warner Cable Deportes.
Below are few relevant links and a projected lineup for Saturday.
*Larry Morgan provided a preview of Saturday's match for LAGalaxy.com.
*I had a conversation with former Galaxy attacker Alecko Eskandarian on the Southern California Armenian community.
* Robbie Keane will not be playing on Saturday, but according to Bruce Arena, he's close to returning to action.
*It's likely that we'll see a multitude of combinations at right back where three trialists are looking to earn a roster spot.
* Earlier this week, the Galaxy signed Bruce Arena to a multi-year contract extension that club President Chris Klein states is for three years.
Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Dunivant; Ishizaki, Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan; Samuel, Friend
CARSON, Calif. – Arguably no one has more clout in the game of soccer than David Beckham and as he prepares to serve as an owner for the prospective Miami MLS franchise, his former head coach Bruce Arena has already tipped hi for success.
On Wednesday, Beckham and MLS announced that he had exercised his option to become an owner of an MLS team and that the former LA Galaxy midfielder plans to place the team in Miami. Although their are still plenty of questions surrounding the team (which you can have a better understanding of by reading this great piece by Soccer By Ives' Franco Panizo), Arena believes that Beckham will be successful.
“He’ll do well. David’s presence in that market will make it a legitimate product and give it the best opportunity to succeed in Miami,” said Arena. “I think that Beckham will give them the opportunity to be successful.”
When asked what type of qualities the English soccer legend will bring as an owner, Arena was blunt.
“I think it’s called David Beckham. He brings charisma; he’s a global brand that brings credibility to the market place and MLS. That’s something that is hard to do. There’s not that many people in this sport or in the world that have his brand and it’ll make for an exciting venture there and hopefully a successful one.”