CARSON, Calif. – The NCAA College Basketball tournament is one of the most eventful times in all of American Sports and the LA Galaxy locker room is not immune to the excitement.
On Saturday, Louisville, Wichita State, Michigan, and Syracuse will face off in the Final Four or the honor to play in Monday’s National Championship game.
LA have two players on their roster from Louisville as second year midfielder Kenney Walker and rookie Greg Cochrane were each standouts for the Cardinals while rookie defender Kofi Opare was a frequent starter for the Michigan Wolverines for four years.
“Both of our [basketball] teams are in the final four, the men’s and the women’s team so that’s pretty cool,” said Cochrane. “Obviously, Kenney and I are pulling for Louisville and I try to get on Kofi because it could be a Louisville vs. Michigan final, I know we’re going to win.”
“It’s exciting,” said Walker. “I feel like this year, the team is buying into what [head coach Rick] Pitino is doing. He has them working as a team and a unit and they’re all buying in to it.”
The defender from Michigan finds himself a tad more alone as only Galaxy Assistant Athletic Trainer Kurt Andrews; a native of Rochester, Mich. is supporting the Wolverines. However, Opare, who counts Wolverines standouts Tim Hardaway Jr. and Eso Akunne among his friends and contacted them during their tournament-run through Facebook.
“It’s really amazing. I’m just so proud of Michigan basketball representing the university in a positive light. We have players stepping up not only [point guard] Trey Burke, who I believe is the best player in the country, but we have other players stepping up and those coming off the bench as well are bringing great energy and everyone is feeding off it.”
March Madness isn’t limited to the players with rooting interests as the team runs a bracket pool that all of the players participate in.
“There’s a whole pool and it gets pretty intense and a lot of people participate. Obviously, a lot of people were telling me not to pick Louisville because I was only going to throw away my money,” said Cochrane, who counts midfielders Michael Stephens and Colin Clark as a pair who told him he was throwing his money away. “I had to stay true to my roots and I knew that this was going to be our year with the Cards as national champs. Unfortunately, I can’t win the bracket, I’m going to come up short, but as long as the Cards win, then I’ll win.”
Opare is actually near the top of the bracket and is fighting with defender A.J. DeLaGarza for the top spot in the Galaxy’s bracket pool.
“My bracket is looking great. A.J. is in first place, but he has Syracuse winning the whole thing and I have Michigan so [Saturday] could turn out a great day for me and Michigan,” said Opare. “This is the first time that I’ve a bracket so being this close to winning definitely keeps me going.”
Who are you going to support: Cochrane and Walker or Opare?
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U.S. Soccer head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, former LA Galaxy and U.S. Internationals Cobi Jones and Alexi Lalas among others were in New York City's Time Square to celebrate U.S. Soccer's Centennial on Friday.
The U.S. Soccer Federation celebrated their 100th birthday on April 5.
Watch the video below.
What is your favorite U.S. Soccer memory?
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CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may be down 2-1 to Monterrey in their CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal series heading into the decisive second leg, but LA understands that they’ve been in this situation before.
LA went down 1-0 in the Western Conference Semifinal to the Supporters’ Shield winners, the San Jose Earthquakes during the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs. Needing a result at Buck Shaw Stadium, LA roared back and crushed San Jose 3-1 to clinch a berth in the Conference Final en route to a second straight MLS Cup title.
This time, the setting—Estadio Tecnológico is a tad more difficult than the rustic Buck Shaw Stadium —and the opponent will be different, but LA believes that can battle back. After all, they’ve done it before.
“We’ve already mentioned [the San Jose victory]. We’ve obviously been here before and last year we were here 20 times down in games, so we know what we need to do,” said Magee. “It’s going to be a little difficult going down to Monterrey, which is a hard place to get a result, but this is a game though where everybody will find out what our team is all about.”
Sean Franklin also sees the parallels and believes that if LA can tighten up on the missed opportunities and concentration lapses that plagued them in the first leg, a win is not out of the question.
“We were in this position last year; the only difference is that it’s going to be one more goal,” said Franklin. “We know that it’s going to be tough, but we think our team is excited with the task at hand. If we just sharpen up a few things and get a little bit smarter then there is a chance to go down there and win in Mexico.”
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena offered an update on the status of Brazilian midfielder Juninho ahead of next week's CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal second leg.
Juninho was forced to exit in the 61st minute of LA's 2-1 defeat to Monterrey on Wednesday. On Friday described Juninho as "healthy" despite dealing with a "neck" injury after "twisting his neck a little" in the Monterrey defeat.
"He's doing fine. We don't expect him to be out for any extended period of time," said Arena. "It's Friday, we don't have any decisions on Friday...It's Friday, we don't really care on Friday. We'll start caring more next week."
I spoke to LA Galaxy attacker Mike Magee on his Player of the Month award in this video for LAGalaxy.com.
Check out the video below...
CARSON, Calif. – Michael Stephens is ready to rebound after what he admits was not his best performance in the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal first leg on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old midfielder feels that he could have done better during his 29 minute shift, particularly with his marking of Cesar Delgado after the Monterrey midfielder fired the cross that led to Humberto Suazo’s goal which put Monterrey level with LA after 81 minutes.
“I was tracking [Delgado] out of midfield and the guy got me. That’s going to happen. He got me with a couple of cuts, but I definitely have to do better and shut down the cross,” Stephens said.
He may get a chance at immediate redemption as LA has yet to confirm whether Juninho will be able to play in Wednesday’s second leg. If called upon next week, either as a starter or off the bench, Stephens insists that he can perform.
“I’m ready to go. It was my first time playing in the middle in a while [on Wednesday]. I could have done a better job holding my position, but I’m ready to go,” said Stephens. “I’m not discouraged by it by any means and if my number is called then I’ll be ready to play.”
The job will be a difficult one for the Galaxy as a 1-0 LA win, any loss and any draw will see them out of the tournament. However, the plucky midfielder believes it is not an insurmountable task.
“We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, it was unfortunate to give up those two goals, but it’s not finished yet,” said Stephens. “As long as we get two goals, that’s not something that’s out of reach by any means. If we get two goals down there [in Monterrey] then we’re in a decent position so it’s definitely not over.”
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LA Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini spoke to MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio on LA's 2-1 defeat to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal first leg, his transition to MLS from Europe and a number of other topics.
Cudicini also spoke to reporters following Wednesday night's CCL loss.
That video is below...
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy were back in the office on Thursday after a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Monterrey in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal.
Most of the players that took part in Wednesday's defeat participated in a regeneration session while others were back on the training field to prepare for the decisive second leg in Mexico.
The odds will be stacked against the Galaxy when they travel down to Estadio Tecnológico in Monterrey as a 1-0 LA win, any loss and any draw will send Los Rayados to the final for the third consecutive year. Although the trip to Mexico will be a challenge, LA head coach Bruce Arena took note of the upbeat nature of his veteran team on Thursday.
"We're upbeat," said Arena. "We know that we obviously made some mistakes and we have to give our opponent a lot of credit, but it was a game in it's entirety, it didn't end the way that we like, but I think there were large segments of the game that we played quite well and that's a positive. We're going to lick our wounds a little bit and get ready for the return leg."
Arena did not have an update on the status of Brazilian midfielder Juninho, who was forced to exit on Wednesday in the 61st minute with an apparent injury. But even if he is unable to suit up next Wednesday, the Galaxy are confident that they can cope if he is unable to go in Monterrey.
"We have guys more than capable of stepping up," said forward Mike Magee. "It wasn't just one guy leaving [that led to Wednesday's loss], as a whole, we took our foot off the gas, which isn't something that we tend to do."
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy lost Juninho to an apparent injury in the 61st minute of Wednesday night's 2-1 CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal first leg to C.F. Monterrey. But was his absence the reason for the club's late collapse head into the decisive second leg?
Omar Gonzalez certainly felt that his impact made a difference
“I think everything kind of went out of control when Juninho came out of the game,” Gonzalez said the defeat. “They started pushing a lot of guys forward and we didn’t deal with the situation. We were sitting back a little too much and not putting pressure on them like we were in the first 75 minutes.”
While Juninho's midfield teammate Marcelo Sarvas' disagreed.
"It's not about Juni, it's about the chances that we had and we didn't score," said Sarvas. "We could have easily up in the last 75 minutes, but 3-0 and killed the game. It's not about Juninho."
Greg Lalas from MLSsoccer.com offers his take on Juninho's absence. In my Three Points to the game, I offer my thoughts on the match.
Agree or disagree? Can LA win in Monterrey without Juninho, if he is unable to go?
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CARSON, Calif. -- Below are my Three Points from the LA Galaxy's 2-1 defeat to Monterrey.
Agree or disagree?
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