Beat

23 January 1:01 pm

 

MLS and USLPRO announced a multi-year partnership on Thursday to integrate the MLS Reserve League into the USL PRO’s schedule.  The deal will feature “interleague play” between Reserve League teams and the 13 teams of U.S. Soccer's third tier. 

MLS clubs – like the LA Galaxy – are not mandated to have a USL PRO affiliate, but those that do must commit a minimum of four players on a long-term loan to their affiliate and will not be able to participate in the MLS Reserve League.  If clubs affiliate with a USL Pro team then they will have to give a minimum of four players.

When the reserve league schedule is announced the Galaxy Reserves are expected to face Los Angeles Blues, who play at Titan Stadium in Cal-State Fullerton. 

“This partnership represents the first step in a long-term alliance between MLS and USL PRO to connect domestic professional soccer through a system that benefits player development, competition and the overall business of our sport,” MLS Executive Vice President of Player Relations & Competition Todd Durbin said in a statement.  “Over the past several years, USL PRO has made great strides in restructuring their league in a manner that serves to complement the objectives of MLS.  This is a win-win for all involved, and it demonstrates our strong commitment to growing North American professional soccer at all levels.”

The 13 USL PRO teams will play in two interleague games against MLS Reserves sides. All of the matches will be a home-at-home series except for Antigua Barracuda FC of the Caribbean nation Antigua & Barbuda who play their matches at the MLS affiliate. All interleague matches will count in the official standings of the Reserve League and USL PRO. 

Information on the schedule has not yet been determined.

“USL PRO has for the past several years been the most sophisticated and competitive professional soccer league under MLS,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “This new partnership with MLS will elevate and strengthen the level of competition for domestic professional soccer while simultaneously creating a more sustainable financial model for team owners. As a result, we expect this partnership will forge a seamless system for the development of players and coaches, and promote the expansion of professional soccer into new North American markets.”

23 January 11:10 am

Ever wonder what players go through at the outset of preseason? The hours of running and fitness tests that prepare them for the rigors of the season are nothing but an intense challenge. 

I recently I received a first hand look at these types of exercises as I underwent the U.S. national team fitness test. Read all about my experiences and how I fared here.

Below is a little compare and contrast: Myself and Leonardo peforming the shuttle run.

 

23 January 10:00 am

On Wednesday, CONCACAF announced the 13 venues that will host matches in this Summer's 2013 Gold Cup and it includes Pasadena's legendary Rose Bowl. 

The premier tournament in North America, Central America and the Caribbean will take place across 13 venues in 13 different cities across the United States from July 7 to July 28. The cities are as followed: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA; M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD; Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, CO; Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT; BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, TX; Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL; JELD-WEN Field in Portland, OR and Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, UT. Not on the list is The Home Depot Center, which hosted group stage games in 2011. 

Qualification for the tournament is already winding down as the final spot will be decided between Panama and Guatemala in the 2013 Copa Centroamericana. The winner will join Costa Rica, Honduras, Belize from the Central American side. Meanwhile, the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, and Martinique have already qualified from North America and the Caribbean respectively. 

The 2011 edition of the tournament took place at the Rose Bowl with Mexico defeating the United States 4-2.  

22 January 5:10 pm

CARSON, Calif. – For the rest of their lives, the players selected in last week’s 2013 MLS SuperDraft and Tuesday’s 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft will remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned that their journey as professional soccer players had begun.

LA’s SuperDraft selections Charlie Rugg (first round, 19th overall), Kofi Opare (second round, 24th overall), Greg Cochrane (second round, 38th overall) are no different as each had their own unique experience on draft day.

All three are participating in practice and I spoke to the trio to find out just where they were when they found out that their names were called on draft day.

RUGG: “I had a feeling, but I didn’t want to jinx it. I was watching it online and it was a little delayed so I started getting calls before I found out. It was just the happiest moment of my life.”

OPARE: “I was lying down in my bed and I had my laptop out as I was watched the SuperDraft, hopeful that a team would pick me. As it progressed, I had a feeling based on mock drafts where I’d be picked so when that time came around, I grew a little anxious. When it was LA’s turn, I remember the commissioner saying that ‘with the fifth pick in the second round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the Los Angeles Galaxy select from the University of Michigan,” and that’s when I knew it’d be me. It was definitely an excitement and that’s when I got a call from Bruce who welcomed me to the team. Then my phone just started going off with text messages and calls from so many people.”

COCHRANE: “I was sitting there on the edge of my seat [watching the draft] and my agent had two seconds before and asked me, ‘how do you like LA’ and I said, ‘what’s not to like about LA,’ so he told me that they were about to draft me. When you hear your name called, it’s a good feeling then I got a call from coach Dave [Sarachan] telling me that they had selected me.” 

22 January 2:50 pm

New LA Galaxy assistant coach Pat Noonan learned from some of MLS’ finest coaches during his nine year career in MLS and he is hoping to take a little of each of them in his new coaching venture.

Noonan elected to retire during the offseason after his first season with the Galaxy and immediately filled the vacated assistant coach slot previously by new club Technical Director Jovan Kirovski. During his nine year career in MLS, Noonan received a first-hand coaching clinic as he learned from three of MLS’ most storied bosses—Steve Nicol (New England Revolution), Sigi Schmid (Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders FC), and Bruce Arena (LA Galaxy).

In his first preseason with the club, Noonan has been a regular with the Galaxy as he helps the staff lead them through fitness drills and even participating in jogs across the training ground.

Noonan discusses what he hopes to take from each of the three coaching legends below…

(On Bruce Arena…)

NOONAN: “I learned how a great coach handles adversity. Halfway through the year I think we were at the bottom of the table or close to it in the Western Conference, and he never once panicked. He kept his cool as did Curt and Dave and the players fed off that. At no point did he say I doubt that we can get in the playoffs or win a championship. He said it’s only a matter of time and we’re going to get in the playoffs and have a chance to win a championship, and he was right. I think that calmness was something I really admired and took note of.”

(On Sigi Schmid…)

NOONAN: “With Sigi, it was his passion to want to win and his coaching ability. Much like Bruce he’s very organized and has a great support staff. Like Bruce he cares so much about the players and the organization and he wanted to win. You admire that.”

 (On Steve Nicol, his coach with New England…)

NOONAN: “Stevie Nicol was another coach I had for a long time. A very laid-back guy, as much of a player’s coach as you’ll find. Do whatever you want as long as you’re ready to come on game day to perform.”

22 January 12:05 pm

The LA Galaxy made one selection in Tuesday's MLS Supplemental Draft, selecting 22-year-old Georgetown midfielder Andy Riemer. LA passed with their two other selections. 

A native of McLean, Pa. Riemer spent four years with the Hoyas, appearing in 82 games while scoring 21 goals and eight assists. In 2012, the left sided midfielder -- who was not invited to the MLS Combine -- made 25 appearances for Georgetown, scoring a career-high nine goals as well as two assists as the Hoyas reached the College Cup final for the first time in the University history. In this piece done before the Combine, Top Drawer Soccer's Travis Clark describes Riemer as a hard working player who has trained with MLS clubs in the past. 

Riemer adds to the LA's wide depth, which was a point of concern for head coach Bruce Arena coming into the 2013 preseason. The left midfielder joins Hector Jimenez, Mike Magee, Colin Clark, Charlie Rugg, Greg Cochrane, Michael Stephens, Sean Franklin, and Landon Donovan as potential options for both wide positions. 

Highlights of Reimer are below...

21 January 10:04 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy will have an opportunity to further bolster their preseason roster on Tuesday with three selections in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft.

LA hold the sixth overall selection in the first round as well as the 57th pick in the third round and the 76th selection in the fourth and final round.  

Last season, the Galaxy selected Bryan Gaul, Rafael Garcia, Yuri Gorentzvaig, Steven Posa, and Justin Davies. The latter three were all cut during preseason, but Gaul and Garcia both went on to contribute to the club’s qualification for the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals.

Ahead of the draft, Arena admits that holding the sixth overall selection should help LA in their quest to add to their squad.

“There are some names there. We have luxury of picking sixth in the first round of the Supplemental. There’s likely that we’ll be able to get a player that we’re interested in,” said Arena. “Last year, we got some good players out of that and we’re hopeful that we can get one or two guys to help our roster.”

Who those players may be is a question mark, but last Thursday after the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Arena mentioned a possible interest in local players.

“The supplemental draft, we will utilize to complement our roster,” said Arena. “As you get into the supplemental draft, it’s pretty much if there are local players that can help us fill a need; we’re certainly going to have our eye on them.”

There is plenty of local talent valuable for selection in the draft including Creighton midfielder Jose Gomez (Santa Ana, Calif.), Cal State Northridge right back Joe Franco (Monrovia, Calif.), U.C. Irvine defender Jose Diaz (Corona, Calif.), and UCLA midfielder Evan Raynr (Calabasas, Calif) among some of the highest touted. 

21 January 3:49 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy opened preseason training camp on Monday and while the status of Landon Donovan may be garnering most of the interest, below are a few notes from LA’s first day of preseason.

*Bruce Arena opened preseason on Monday that consisted of many from the roster including goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini and U.S. national team camp invitees Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza. The two defenders stepped away from U.S. camp briefly to attend the meeting and meet their new teammates.

*Sixteen players participated on the club’s on the field training on Monday that consisted entirely of fitness drills. Kofi Opare, Kenney Walker, and Cudicini were at The HDC, but spent the session downstairs.

*Several players were absent for various reasons: Robbie Keane (training with Tottenham Hotspur), Mike Magee (recovering from wisdom teeth removal), Todd Dunivant (finishing up his honeymoon and is expected to return on Tuesday), Oscar Sorto and Jose Villarreal (with U.S. Under-20’s), Donovan (extended break), DeLaGarza and Gonzalez (with U.S. national team),

*Among the absent was Brazilian midfielder Juninho, who is awaiting his visa and is expected in camp by the end of the week or the beginning of next.

*According to LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, the Galaxy are hopeful that they will have goalkeeper William Hesmer in camp. Hesmer was selected in stage two of the MLS Re-Entry Draft.

*There were several number changes with the team: Bryan Gaul will don No. 17 after wearing 35 last year. Carlo Cudicini has taken over No.1 from Brian Rowe who will now wear No. 12. Meanwhile midfielder Colin Clark will wear No. 11.

*Former LA Galaxy midfielder Kyle Nakazawa, who was expected to enter camp as a non-roster invitee has elected to retire. Nakazawa missed much of the 2012 season due to back spasms.

*LA will be training at The Home Depot Center throughout the preseason. Arena expected the Galaxy to play in eight exhibition or practice games.  The first will be a match against the United States Under-17 national team on Feb. 1.

21 January 11:32 am

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan will play soccer in 2013, but when he’ll play is still being decided.

The Galaxy captain was not at the club’s first practice on Monday, but head coach Bruce Arena told reporters that Donovan will play, but no timetable had been set at the moment.

We’ve given him a little more time off,” Arena said. “He’s definitely playing this year, but we’re just working out a return date that makes sense for all of us…we’re working that out soon.”

Arena met with Donovan over the weekend and stated the he is feeling well, but needs a little more time off.  Although speculation has swirled around Donovan’s future, Arena admits that he was always confident that he’d be back in 2013.

“No, I thought he was going to come back. I think he just needs a little bit more of an extended leave of absence. He’s got a couple of years that have taken its toll and he needs a little bit more time.”

With the Galaxy’s first MLS game 41 days away, when Donovan does make his return, he’ll need to build his fitness just like any other player.

“He like any player needs the right time. The longer that he takes off, it’ll take him longer to be ready to play,” said Arena. “Generally, we’d like to see some players get three or four weeks to bring their fitness along.”

18 January 5:05 pm

As the LA Galaxy prepare for the opening of preseason, we know of another player who will not be returning once preseason starts up on Monday—midfielder Dan Keat.

The LA Galaxy Insider has learned that the New Zealand International will not return to the club for 2013 after making just three appearances in all competitions during an injury-riddled 2012 season. Keat fared slightly better in MLS Reserve League play by making five appearances. In his second year in MLS, Keat bounced across the field in search of minutes playing right back, central defense, and defensive midfield before right knee surgery in May caused him to miss nearly five months. 
 
Although Keat struggled with injuries, he admits that he is not surprised that he is moving on from a team that he says will always have a place in his heart. 
 
“I’m not surprised really, it’s something that I think that I’m ready to go to a place where I can play, that was a move that I was going to try and make anyway,” Keat told the LA Galaxy Insider shortly after the season had ended. It’s been a great couple of years here and I really appreciate everything that the Galaxy have done for me. It’s bittersweet really, I’m at an age where I need to move on and play, but this place will always have a place in my heart.”
 
Whether Keat remains in MLS remains a question mark as the third overall selection in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft has made just six appearances over his two year career in the league. Perhaps the best option for Keat could be a switch to the A-League, which would place him closer to his New Zealand national team head coach. 
 
“We’ll see what works out, I think more than likely abroad, but it’s one of those things, you just see what opportunities come up,” said I think success is the intersection between opportunity and hard work so if you can take that and run with it and see what happens.”
 
As the young midfielder searches for a new club though, reaching the 2014 World Cup with New Zealand is most important. 
 
“ I think that I’ve done alright for them recently. It’s been kind of a savior for me because I wasn’t going to get a chance to play and I knew that games were coming up so it gave me target points to aim for which helped out a lot,” said Keat. “I need to be playing at a club regularly so I can get starts for the national team and help us push towards the world cup in 2014.” 
 
With Keat gone, the LA Galaxy have five of their seven international spots (Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas, Robbie Keane, Leonardo, and Carlo Cudicini) in use as preseason begins on Monday. LA traded away their eight available spot to Chivas USA ahead of the Stage Two of the 2012 MLS Re-Entry Draft.