CARSON, Calif. – The mood surrounding American soccer circles in the wake of Mexico’s 2-1 Olympic gold medal winning victory over Brazil on Saturday ranged from anguish to jubilation, frustration to anger, but for two members of the LA Galaxy, the match provided only motivation.
Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens was on the U.S. Under-23 squad that defeated the Mexican U-23s in March -- a team that contained many of the same players that went on to win the gold medal for Mexico -- as well as the roster for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games. After a fast start to Olympic qualifying, a pair of disappointing results ultimately led to the Americans ouster from Olympic contention.
While the sting of missing out on the Olympics has long since passed for Stephens, the 23-year-old midfielder admits that watching Mexico win gold has provided motivation for himself and the rest of U.S. Soccer.
“Absolutely, if you watch those teams, those are really good teams. It’s true that the U.S. is always competing with and those [Olympic players] are the guys that are going to coming onto the full team so it’s a wake-up call to the U.S. for sure,” said Stephens after Galaxy training on Saturday. “I think that anyone that and see players that are in the same age bracket as that and see players that are the same age as them, they’re always going to want to get better and get to that level. I’m no different.”
Stephens’ dream of the Olympics may never come true, but for his teammate forward Jack McBean, the dream is just beginning.
Having spent considerable time in the U.S. youth set up at the Under-17 and Under-20 levels, the 17-year-old may play a role for the Americans as they look to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Qualification for that tournament is not for another four years—when McBean will be 21— but the young forward is already thinking about helping the U.S. qualify for the Olympics.
“I know that [players born in 1994; like McBean] are the next oldest cycle for the Olympics and to be on that team would be a big honor,” McBean said Saturday. “It is motivation to feel that atmosphere and see the stadium filled with fans. It’d be really cool to play in.”
Although Mexico is providing a stiff test for the Americans and the rest of CONCACAF, the young McBean is optimistic that the U.S. can catch up to their archrivals.
“[Mexico] is just getting better and better. They’re doing all the things right. And obviously, they won the U-17s and finished third in the U-20s so they’ve been at the top of all the recent youth tournaments,” admitted McBean. “But we’re not far off so we just have to keep working hard and we’ll be up there…It is slowly getting better, but it’s definitely coming up.”
Magee is likely to play an important role for the Galaxy attack on Sunday as he is expected to step into David Beckham's space in the midfield. With Beckham fulfilling his Olympic obligations on Sunday, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is expected to look to utilize Magee's speed on the flanks to help LA against Chivas USA's tenacious midfielders. Magee is well-aware that this will be no easy task as Chivas' high intensity midfield will be bolstered by the acquisition of midfielder Shalrie Joseph and the return of Oswaldo Minda from a shoulder injury.
"It's hard, they obviously like to load the middle of the field and they had a great midfield before and now getting Shalrie and Minda back from injury is obviously huge for them. We need to be extremely disciplined and match their intensity."
(On controlling the midfield...)
MAGEE: "That's huge in all our games, the times that we have the most success is when we have control of the midfield and are passing the ball well while keeping possession, especially in the final third. This game is obviously magnified a bit more because of how good their midfield is so we definitely need to do well."
(On the playoff chase...)
MAGEE: "It's a lot closer than people think, four games in hand is a lot and this is a massive game always and if you look at the standings, they're confident as well so this game could shake things up for the playoffs."
CARSON, Calif -- The SuperClásico is always a heated affair, but with LA Galaxy and Chivas USA fighting for a berth in the postseason, even more fuel has been added to the fire.
Currently, the Galaxy are in fifth place in the Western Conference with a seven point lead on sixth-place Chivas, but the Rojiblancos hold four games in hand on LA. With a victory on Sunday, the Galaxy could move ten points clear of their cross-hall rivals, but a defeat would push Chivas to within four points of the Galaxy with four fewer games played.
Below are Landon Donovan's thoughts from Friday's press conference as well as a video preview of the SuperClásico...
(On what it would mean to win the SuperClásico...)
DONOVAN: "We take a lot of pride in this rivalry, but I think more importantly, probably for both teams at this point, is these could end up being the last two teams that fight for a playoff spot. So that's where our focus is, and we know three points on Sunday would put us a lot closer to that goal and, conversely, Chivas could close the gap with still a lot of games in hand, so it makes this game as important as any."
(On the importance of the rivalry to the city of Los Angeles...)
DONOVAN: "I grew up here so I’m familiar with all the sports rivalries and I know that Angelinos take these things very seriously. It’s important for the fans and myself being a fan of other sports in this area that I understand the passion that’s involved in this."
(On whether or not the SuperClásico is just another game once the whistle blows...)
DONOVAN: “I think there is just probably a little more emotion involved, a little more passion involved. It doesn’t mean your going to be blatantly trying to kick someone or to hurt someone, but it has a little more meaning. In this game, there a lot of games, a lot of games in the summer months, where from time to time you get to a game and by the end of the game you think, ‘God I wasn’t fully into that game,’ because its been a long summer and this, that or the other, but in this game you know that everybody on both sides are going to come prepared and really fully alert and ready for it, and that’s where the difference is.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan is well aware that when the LA Galaxy take on Chivas USA on Sunday, the Rojiblancos will be a far improved side from the one that LA defeated in late-July.
Much of that improvement stems from Chivas' recent acquisition of tenacious midfielder Shalrie Joseph from the New England Revolution on August 1st. Long considered -- alongside Donovan -- to be one of MLS' finest players over the last decade, Joseph is expected to make his Chivas debut during Sunday's SuperClásico. With Joseph most-likely attempting to ignite a recently stagnant Chivas attack, Donovan admits that his teammates must be cognizant of the midfielder on Sunday.
"He is my opinion has been one of the best probably 10 or 15 players in this league for a long time now, and we fully expect him to play, to start. How they use him, we're not quite sure, and maybe they're still finding out, too. But he's an influential player and a good leader ... I think he's going to give an influence on their team in a very positive way.So he's someone that we have to be aware of."
CARSON, Calif. -- One question has circulated throughout the LA Galaxy camp this week: Could the the back four that led the LA Galaxy to the 2011 MLS Cup make an appearance for this Sunday's SuperClásico against Chivas USA?
With injury concerns seemingly a thing of the past, the quartet of Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant, a group that lined up together 17 times last season -- including the 2011 MLS Cup Final -- could play together again starting this Sunday.
Read my story on the possibility of the back four of Franklin, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez and Dunivant teaming up again this Sunday and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
As part of the festivities for SuperClásico week, front office staff and fans of the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA took part in the BarraClásico on Thursday evening at The Home Depot Center.
In the night's first match, the Galaxy staff fell 4-3 to their Chivas counterparts. With the victory, the Chivas' staff swept the season series, 3-0. Meanwhile in the second match of the night, the LA Riot Squad defeat Chivas' Black Army 1850, 2-1. The victory gave LARS a three-game sweep of the Chivas supporters group.
In the night cap, the Galaxy supporters group the Angel City Brigade played to a scoreless draw with Chivas' Union Ultras. The season series ended 1-1-1, but the Ultras were awarded the "Supporters' Cup" on aggregate. This result could have some barring on Sunday's result as the Galaxy are undefeated in the SuperClásico when the Union Ultras win the BarraClásico.
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy U15s finished third in the U15 GA Cup tournament and the LA Galaxy U17s finished sixth in the U17 tournament on Thursday.
The LA Galaxy U15's defeated the Chicago Fire U15's 1-0 on Thursday at StarFire Sports Complex in the third place contest while the U17s fell 3-1 to Chicago's U17s in the fifth place match.
The U15s finished the tournament with a record of 3-1-1 while the U17s went 2-1-2 at the GA Cup.
On Wednesday, the MLS' Board of Governors unveiled their new tie-breaker rules for the 2012 playoffs to the public and the change could have a major impact on the LA Galaxy.
The most important change is that MLS has opted to use Goals For as the first standings tie-breaker with Goal Differential being moved to the second determinant of standings positioning (A complete look at the tiebreaker rules can be found here). This could benefit the Galaxy as the club is has currently scored 39 goals this season -- the second best total in MLS, six behind the first place San Jose Earthquakes -- and goal differetial of zero.
What are your thoughts on the tie-breaker switch? Will this help the Galaxy or hurt them?
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy reserves scored a 1-0 victory over the Chivas USA reserves on Tuesday afternoon on a goal from Jack McBean.
McBean was among several who impressed in the Reserve League SuperClásico -- or "El Clásico Reserva" as I like to call it -- as well as Jose Villarreal and academy player Raul Mendiola -- more on him in the morning -- who helped McBean set up the goal. My profile on McBean's performance can be found here while MLSsoccer.com's Scott French wrote this story on the return of Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant, who went 90 minutes in the Reserve League victory.
A recap from LAGalaxy.com with interviews from McBean, Reserves head coach Curt Onalfo and Jose Villarreal can be found below:
CARSON, Calif. – The news of the untimely death of Columbus Crew midfielder Kirk Urso stunned the American Soccer community and those reverberations were felt in the LA Galaxy locker room.