COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former LA Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall will play his first game against his former club as a member of the Columbus Crew.
The Trinidad and Tobago International was an important cog in the Galaxy midfield for three years, but left following the 2011 season to pursue his options in England. On Tuesday, I caught up with Birchall and provided this story on LAGalaxy.com.
Below is a complete transcript of my interview with Birchall.
(On playing the Galaxy…)
BIRCHALL: "Ever since I came back to MLS and signed with Columbus, it was the first game that I was looking for on the schedule. It’s a game that I’m really looking forward to. To see the Galaxy again and see how they’re all doing and to play against them and try to get the three points will be tough, but I’m just trying to play well and have a nice night as well."
BIRCHALL: "It’s the same nucleus as the championship team last year. I’m excited about seeing Josh [Saunders] who I was really close with, Jovan [Kirovski], Robbie [Keane] and David [Beckham]—I know that he didn’t make the trip, but all the players, Franklin, Omar. I was with them for three years so it’s kind of the same squad and I’m just really looking forward to seeing them all and see how they’re all doing."
(On watching LA’s early slide from afar…)
BIRCHALL: "It was just one of those periods where it was such a good season last year. Something was bound to come into a set where there were a few cracks. I think that there was a few new players coming together and getting them together and injuries hurt. When Omar got injured that was a massive blow, but you could always tell that they were going to bounce back. Just about now, they’re getting their back four together and are starting to play well. From now on, I think that they’re a really tough team to beat."
(On what he took from his time with LA…)
BIRCHALL: "I was honored to be a member of the Galaxy during one of their greatest seasons in MLS. What we did last year was unbelievable; it would be hard for any team to emulate that. But I was just privileged and honored because I played a lot of games and I’ve got nothing but fond memories of the fans and the players. I’ve also got some fond memories of winning an MLS Cup so it will be something that I’m always grateful for and I’m always looking out for the Galaxy to do well."
(On the importance of the Galaxy came for Columbus…)
BIRCHALL: “We’ve got a lot of games in hand over our opponents. We’ve got six games in hand on Montreal and three or four games in hand on most teams. So these are the kind of games where we need to go out and get three points, we missed the game on Saturday, but soccer came second to what happened. It was emotional and now we’ve got to go out and try and play well. The last month, we’ve been playing really well and we’ve got to keep that going and try to pick up points at home. This is a game where it will be good to get anything out of the game, but we’ve got to go in with the mentality that we’re trying to win it.”
(On how emotional Wednesday’s match will be…)
BIRCHALL: “It’s been a week that the event happened with Kirk, but a lot of players are still caught up about it. Last week was a really emotional week and we had a chance to say good bye and see his family and go to the funeral. The guys carried him off well and this will be the final farewell tribute to him. There are a few things at the game and we’ve got t-shirts and a memorial video as well. It is going to be emotional, but once the whistle blows, we’ll be fine.”
COLUMBUS, Ohio. -- The LA Galaxy took part in their only training session ahead of Wednesday's match against the Columbus Crew on Tuesday on the campus of The Ohio State University.
The session went on for a little over an hour before the players returned to the club hotel, but the highlight of practice was a game of soccer tennis between several of the club's players. Of the participants, the most dominant was the team of Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho and Hector Jimenez.
Below are Sarvas' thoughts on the exercise and a little snippet of the action.
(On the importance of the exercise...)
"It’s good to relax and to have a nice day before the game. It also helps your technique and the most importantly, the guys are always laughing and making jokes so that’s the most important."
(On his own performance during the exercise...)
SARVAS: "My team was the best, me, Juninho and Hector, we killed them. Robbie [Keane] was a little bit angry, but he can not compete against us."
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When the LA Galaxy take on the Columbus Crew on Wednesday evening, they'll be without midfielder David Beckham for the second straight match.
Beckham did not make the trip to Columbus after missing Sunday's match against Chivas USA to attend the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic games. Following the Galaxy's training session in Columbus on Tuesday, head coach Bruce Arena spoke about the reason for Beckham's absence.
"He's been away for an extended period of time and he needs to get settled back in and get his legs back."
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The LA Galaxy Insider project is continuing to evolve on a daily basis and part of that evolution is creating more engagement with the readers.
As part of that pursuit, allow me to introduce a new segment to the blog called "Ask the Insider." After each match, readers are encouraged to provide their questions on the LA Galaxy Facebook page and one question will be answered right here on the blog, with the winner receiving tickets to an upcoming game.
Below is the first installment of "Ask the Insider":
From Marvin G. Machón: How difficult was it for the big four (A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant) to start a game together for the first time this year? Did everything just click or was it hard to adjust to each other again?
Thanks for the question, Marvin.
If it was difficult for LA's "big four" to play together again for the first time in nearly a year, they hardly showed it on Sunday against Chivas USA. Throughout the match, the back four looked like the organized and cohesive unit that anchored the Galaxy to the 2011 MLS Cup championship as they repeatedly shut down the Rojiblancos attack--limiting them to just three shots on goal.
The back four appeared in sync from the opening whistle and it showed during one of the game's definitive moments, which came in the 48th minute of play. With LA up by just a single goal, Chivas were able to take possession inside the Galaxy's 18-yard-box following a flubbed clearance by goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Rather than panic, the back line maintained their shape amid the onslaught as they deflected a pair of Chivas shots from close range—including a goal line clearance by DeLaGarza—before Juninho cleared the ball out of danger. This moment would prove decisive as less than 20 minutes later; Juninho doubled LA’s lead setting the stage for LA's 4-0 rout.
While all matches won't be as smooth as last Sunday -- and Wednesday's emotional match against the Crew promises to provide a stiff test to LA’s back line -- the quartet's performance was certainly a step in the right direction for a Galaxy team that has aspirations of climbing up the Western Conference standings.
Thanks again to Marvin, you can get your tickets by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For everyone else, remember to leave your questions on the LA Galaxy Facebook page following Wednesday's match for the chance to have your question featured.
We'll have more coverage of Wednesday's match following Tuesday's training session.
CARSON, Calif. -- A day after defeating Chivas USA 4-0 in the SuperClásico, the LA Galaxy spent much of Monday in the clouds as part of a marathon travel day en route to Columbus for Wednesday's match against the Columbus Crew.
Above is a photo that I snapped on the plane during the club's final approach into Columbus.
Carson, Calif. -- It was a night to remember for Landon Donovan.
The LA Galaxy captain set a career-high for assists -- while also tying an MLS record for most assists in a match -- with four during LA's 4-0 domination of Chivas USA on Sunday evening. With the performance, Donovan lifted his MLS career assist number to 105 moving into fourth place all-time in MLS' career assist list bypassing D.C. United legend Jaime Moreno. That wasn't all, however, as Donovan brought his 2012 assist total to 11, giving him sole possession of the league lead in assists.
In 21 regular season matches against Chivas, Donovan has nine goals and 12 assists against the Rojiblancos
Below are Donovan and head coach Bruce Arena's thoughts on the Galaxy captain by passing Moreno:
DONOVAN: "In my opinion, he’s the best player that has played in this league. I’m honored to be mentioned in that company and I’m just doing my job and if I can get more then that’s great.”
ARENA: "Jaime was one of the great players in the history of this league. And a great person and I’d say the same with Landon. Landon really was focused on playing well tonight, and when he wants, he’s as good as any player in this league and I thought he and Robbie once again were in great form."
CARSON, Calif. -- We're just several hours away from the final Superclásico of the year and here are a few links to get you to kick off.
Read Larry Morgan's game preview of the Superclásico, focusing on bouncing back from last week's defeat to the Seattle Sounders
Meanwhile, Scott French discusses the impact that new Chivas USA midfielder Shalrie Joseph will have on the match.
Lastly, once the game begins, follow the action along with me on MLSsoccer.com's live chat and also, I'll be answering one select question from the Galaxy's Facebook page tonight so leave your comments and questions there.
PREDICTED LINEUP: Saunders; Franklin, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Dunivant; Jimenez, Juninho, Sarvas, Magee; Donovan, Keane
LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan has been called up to the United States national team roster for next Wednesday's friendly against Mexico.
Donovan was named to the U.S. travel roster on Sunday by national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the USMNT's August 15th friendly against El Tri at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Due to his call up, Donovan will miss Wednesday's league match against the Columbus Crew.
Wednesday's friendly against Mexico will be an precursor for Donovan and the U.S. as they prepare to resume World Cup Qualifying, which ramps up this fall starting with a September 7th match against Jamaica in Kingston.
CARSON, Calif. -- In the wake of last week's disappointing 4-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders, LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders knows that the club's defense must change for LA to pick up an important victory in Sunday's Superclásico against Chivas USA.
There has been considerable talk this week -- and numerous articles written by yours truly and others -- on a potential return of the back four of Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant, a quartet that along with Saunders, helped anchor the Galaxy to the 2011 MLS Cup Championship. While Saunders would welcome their group's return, he believes that it is far more important for the club's defensive mentality to change rather than simply the personnel.
"It's always welcome to see something like that because we know it works, but it's more than just a back four, it's a collective unit that has to defend. You put a lot on the back, but in the end, it's everybody defending."