Beat

07 September 12:43 pm

Robbie Keane and the rest of Ireland's national team began their qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup in a big way on Friday with a dramatic come from behind victory over Kazakhstan. 

Down 1-0 in the 89th minute, the Irish struck back as Keane drew a penalty and slotted in the equalizer. A minute later, Irish forward Kevin Doyle scored the game-winning-goal to put Ireland in the pole position in Group C, a group that contains European heavyweight Germany as well as Sweden. 

Keane's goal comes after the Irish forward delivered an interview to the Irish Independent wherein the LA Galaxy forward admitted that he considered retiring from International play after several of his Ireland contemparies goalkeeper Shay Given and midfielder Damien Duff announced their retirement from the Irish squad. However, Keane commited his future to the Irish for the foreseeable future for as long as they are interested in his services.

"I thought about it," Keane told the Irish Independent. "And when Damien and Shay decided to go that way, it was a sad day for Irish football because they've been two of the best players this country has ever seen.

"But the thought of never putting on a green jersey again was quite difficult for me to come around to. Even now, I'm dreading that day. I'll keeping playing on while I'm fit and healthy and as long as the manager picks me.”

07 September 9:35 am

CARSON, Calif. -- Christian Wilhelmsson has arrived in Southern California and the Swedish International is hoping to make an immediate impact for the LA Galaxy.

During this piece, I spoke about how Wilhelmsson fits in with the team as he prepares for his American adventure.

However, Wilhelmsson had plenty more to say, below are his thoughts on Los Angeles and how it relates to his previous experience in Saudi Arabia. 

WILHELMSSON: “So far, I haven’t seen so much, it’s like where I come from. Very hot and a lot of traffic. [he last played in Saudi Arabia]. When I start to see other places maybe it’ll be a bit different.”

(On playing in Saudi Arabia…)

WILHELMSSON:  “I’ve said it before that it’s a surprisingly good level. It was very hot. As a player it’s not that different from other places. You have your games, you have your rhythm and your routine….It’s the same all most everywhere, but for the family, maybe it’s different with things to do, but not that much.”

(On cultural differences…)

WILHELMSSON: “Culturally, you have to know what is going on, how to be there. You learn quite fast. I tried to be as open as possible and try to respect them. It’s not a problem at all. I’ve been in a lot of places now and to adapt is one of my qualities.”

(On whether Saudi Arabia was difficult for his family…)

WILHELMSSON: “Of course, it was difficult in the beginning, but she [his wife Oksana] got used to it and she enjoyed it with me.”

(On whether he knows David Beckham, Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan…)

WILHELMSSON: “I played against David two times (Sweden vs. England) and Robbie as well with the national team. Donovan, I’m not sure if I know him personally.” 

06 September 10:45 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan isn't quite back from his nagging hamstring strain, but the Galaxy captain is targeting a return to action during LA's next match on September 14th against the Colorado Rapids. 

On Thursday, Donovan caught up reporters for the first time since departing for U.S. national team duty -- where he picked up the strain during the friendly against Mexico -- and discussed his recovery. 

Read my piece on Donovan's aspirations to return to action during LA's next match

06 September 5:20 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The high-powered LA Galaxy offense got yet another weapon this week with the addition of dynamic winger and Swedish International Christian Wilhelmsson. 

Among those impressed with the move is Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who expects to be on the receiving end of several crosses by the Swede once he returns from a nagging left hamstring strain. Donovan spoke to the media about the Swede and his own health following Thursday's training session.

Below are Donovan's thoughts on the Swede...

DONOVAN: “I’ve only seen him train once now and we all know his resume speaks for itself, but I think that it’s low risk and potentially really high reward for us. We’re fortunate at this club that we get a number of players that reach out and want to play here. It’s a big advantage for us  and if he can help us along the way then it will be great.”

(On the depth that Wilhelmsson adds…)

DONOVAN: “We saw our depth last week, we were able to put really our second team on the field and really hammer Puerto Rico here. So that’s going to be important, we know that’s important, we learned that last year and you never know what happens. Robbie’s gone a couple games, David wasn’t training today, I haven’t been training so guys need to be ready to step in and that’s been a really good quality in this team over the last couple years since Bruce has been here.

(On MLS’ perception in Sweden…)

DONOVAN: “I think that Sweden is an  underrated national team in the world, I think that they have some very good players and we’re hopeful that one of them can help us here. I think that it’s good that they want to come and play here and I think that you’re going to see more and more of that.”

(On Wilhelmsson proving that MLS is an underrated league…)

DONOVAN: “It’s probably similar to the Swedish league, I think when you don’t know a lot about it, you just assume that it’s not very good. So, I think that the more high quality, high profile players playing here the better because it helps spread the word about how good this league is.”

(On Wilhelmsson giving LA their first true wide player…)

DONOVAN: “It gives us an added element that maybe we haven’t had as much. I think that Hector [Jimenez] does a good job of providing that when he’s playing. He gives us an ability to get wide and to get crosses in front of the goal for a long time, we had Eddie Lewis and Chris Klein here who were more typical wide players, but we’ve kind of gone away from that. Our style of play is a little more different and if you can have players that can provide that it’s really helpful because you can’t just clog the middle and worry about the guys in the middle. You need to pay attention to the guys wide and that’[s something that can be helpful down the stretch.”

(On whether he’d be playing more at forward because LA has that wide presence…)

DONOVAN: “Probably, the good thing now is that we’re getting Edson [Buddle] back in the fold. Jose [Villarreal] played well, [Jack] played well in the game against Puerto Rico so we do have some depth at forward, but there’s a lot of players in the midfield vying for minutes and my guess is that I’ll be primarily used up top.”

(On the team developing more dimensions and perhaps more than last season…)

DONOVAN: “I think that the early part of the year, as bad as it was, was really helpful and I think that it made it really clear, how to be successful and if we don’t  do things the right way, then you’re not going to be successful. And now we’re in a really good groove where we understand what it takes. We were talking about how much impact our young players have had this year and it’s really impressive that we have probably 25, 27 guys who could probably play in most teams in this league. It’s a credit to Bruce and what he’s done and Curt with the reserve guys

06 September 12:55 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may be in the midst of a two week break from MLS play, but there will be no rest for forward Robbie Keane, who has joined up with Ireland for World Cup qualifying.

Keane and the Irish will begin their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign on Friday against Kazakhstan as part of a two match stint hat includes a friendly against Oman in London that the Galaxy forward will not take part of. The Irish face quite the challenge as they are drawn into Group C against Germany, Christian Wilhelmsson’s Sweden, Austria, Faroe Islands and the Kazakhs. The top team from each of the eight groups will qualify automatically while the runners-up take part in a two-leg playoff match.

Below are Keane’s thoughts about Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers….  

KEANE: “I’m looking forward to seeing the lads again. We’ve got a long trip to Kazakhstan and obviously, I don’t know too much about them, but I look forward to seeing the guys again and hopefully start to getting back to winning ways with them.”

(On rebounding as a nation from a challenging European Championship…)

KEANE: “I think that as a nation, it’s important that we qualify for every tournament. That needs to start now; we sort of qualify for one and then miss out for ten years or so. That’s not good enough; we need to [qualify] every two years or every four years. It’s important for our nation that we qualify for these tournaments.”

(On the squad’s depth…)

KEANE: “It’s pretty much the same squad that we have. There aren’t many players that have come in, obviously, Shay Given and Damian Duff have retired so, but there was already players in the squad anyway that would take their place  so there is not really a big change from a few months.”

(On whether he is in better fitness than his teammates who just started their season..)

KEANE: “Yeah, obviously, their season has just started a couple weeks ago. I’ve played a lot of games and whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure.”

06 September 9:35 am

The signing of Christian Wilhelmsson by the LA Galaxy sent shock waves in MLS circles as club's prepare for the stretch run, but I was curious about how the move played in his native Sweden.  

In order to find that out, I reached out to one of Sweden's most respected soccer journalists Olof Lundh. Lundh is Editor-in-Chief at noted Swedish soccer website fotbollskanalen.se and also works for Sweden's biggest TV-channel TV4. He has covered the Swedish national team since 1997. It was Lundh who reported that Wilhelmsson had signed a deal with the Galaxy on Monday after he joining LA in training on Friday.

Below is my conversation with Lundh wherein he explains where Wilhelmsson is in his career, his prospects with the Swedish national team and even the origin of his nickname "Chippen"...

Where is Chippen in his career at the moment and how do you feel that he can be best utilized on the field?

LUNDH: "He can't stop aging and of course turning 33 in December makes it tougher to perform at the highest level, but he has a body that is pretty easy to get in shape and i very seldom injured. I think most people were surprised of his performance for Sweden before and during the European Championship and he has always been pretty popular since he is an offensive player. He had a couple of tough years in the national team and was actually dropped but he fought his way back and won al lot of respect after that. He is best on either the right or left wing and should get the ball a lot and always take on the opponent."

How will Wilhelmsson's move affect his chances with the Swedish national team and what are the perceptions of MLS in Sweden?

LUNDH: "He has a great possibility to be a factor in the national team. Right now Seattle's Adam Johansson is with the national team so I don't expect that a move to LA and MLS will make it difficult for Wilhelmsson as long as he gets to play regularly and performs. The status of MLS has grown the last years with more and more big name players moving there. Wilhelmsson didn't play that much in the European Championship this summer but he was sensational when Sweden beat France. The competition isn't that great either so it's very much up to Wilhelmsson if he wants to be part of the WC-qualifying."

What should LA Galaxy fans know about Wilhelmsson as a player and as a person?

LUNDH: "He is always happy and easygoing and that is a joy for a group like the Swedish national team. Teams need a guy that helps everyone feel welcomed and part of the group and who also performs and is serious with his football. LA Galaxy not only got a great guy but also a player who in his best moments is a powerful winger that can create a lot of chances. LA Galaxy should know that his nickname in Swedish is 'Chippen' which is 'The Chip'  in English and he got it as a kid because he was really good with the chip shot." 

05 September 2:50 pm

LA Galaxy Academy stalwart Paul Arriola has been called up by United States Under-18 head coach Javier Perez for the youth national team's upcoming training camp in Netherlands. 

A forward, who played for the U.S. in the 2011 U-17 World Cup, Arriola played a key role with the Galaxy during the past two GA Cups, but will play his first U.S. Development Academy season with the Galaxy at the U-18 level this season. Arriola spent last season with Temecula-based youth club Arsenal at the U-16 level, scoring an impressive 15 goals in 17 games. Arriola leaves tomorrow for the training camp that will see the U.S. U-18s train from Sept. 6 through the 17th. During the week, the team is scheduled to participate in friendlies against the U-18 sides of Feyenoord Rotterdam, Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge.

The complete U.S. U-18 roster is below:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Ethan Horvath (Unattached; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zackary Steffen (Maryland; Downington, Pa.). 
DEFENDERS (5): Michael Amick (De Anza Force; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Suliaman Dainkeh (DC United Academy; Reston, Va.), Dylan Greenberg (Albertson SC; Dix Hills, N.Y.), Trevor Haberkorn (Solar Chelsea SC; Roanoke, Texas), Jalen Markey (Seattle Sounders FC Academy; Renton, Wash.). 
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Marco Delgado (CD Chivas USA; Glendora, Calif.), Romain Gall (FC Lorient; Herndon, Va.), Jacori Hayes (Baltimore Bays; Bowie, Md.), Piakai Henkel (Amiens FC; Arcata, Calif.), Kristian Scott (Stoke City, Winterbourne, England) 
FORWARDS (7): Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake Arizona; Rochester, N.Y.), Paul Arriola (LA Galaxy; Chula Vista, Calif.), Julian Green (Bayern Munich; Tampa, Fla.), Benjamin Lopez (Real Salt Lake Arizona; San Diego, Calif.), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union; Dresher, Pa.), Ben Spencer Jr. (CD Chivas USA; Albuquerque, N.M.), Travis Wannemuehler (Indiana Fire Academy; Evansville, Ind.)

 

05 September 11:24 am

With the LA Galaxy announcing the signing of Christian Wilhelmsson on Wednesday, the question that arises is just where will the Swede fit into the Galaxy's starting XI.

A winger with the ability to play on both flanks -- he was stationed on the left for 45 minutes during Tuesday's Reserve League match and the right for the remainder--, Wilhelmsson brings quite the European pedigree with a lengthy international career with Sweden and stops at clubs like Italian giants Roma and Spain's Deportivo La Coruna. With a resume like Wilhelmsson's it is no doubt that the Swede has arrived in Southern California to fight for a place in the Starting XI, but it may be difficult for him to acquire one immediately. 

When the club is in full strength, the Starting XI looks a bit like this, with a few potential changes including Marcelo Sarvas moving to either flank and Hector Jimenez sliding in on either flank for Sarvas and Mike Magee... 

------------------------Saunders---------------------

Franklin---DeLaGarza---Gonzalez---Dunivant

Sarvas----Beckham-------Juninho----Magee

--------------Donovan--------Keane---------------

However, in my opinion, the Galaxy will likely move to this lineup with the inclusion of the Swedish International...

------------------------Saunders---------------------

Franklin---DeLaGarza---Gonzalez---Dunivant

Sarvas----Beckham-------Juninho----Wilhelmsson 

--------------Donovan--------Keane----------------

While this does drop Magee to the bench role, it keeps Sarvas on the field with Juninho as the pair has formed a highly effective trio with Beckham as of late. Meanwhile, it allows for Wilhelmsson to influence the attack and use his dribbling skills to create opportunities for the likes of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane  For a player who has been praised for his ability to be a direct winger -- including in this analysis from the tactics website Zonal Marking about his substitute appearance against Ukraine during Euro 2012 -- the chance to be paired alongside a capable defender like Todd Dunivant, should allow him to become more active in the attack.  However, that being said, I would not be surprised to see Bruce Arena opt to place Wilhelmsson on the right flank thus allowing Magee to continue to earn minutes on the left while Sarvas drops to the bench. 

What is the best formation for Wilhelmsson? Where do you see him fitting in?

Share your thoughts and formations below. 

05 September 10:21 am

In a video interview with LAGalaxy.com, newly signed Christian Wilhemsson spoke about his move to the LA Galaxy.

Below is a transcript of the interview with the video embedded below:

(Welcome to the Galaxy…)

 WILHELMSSON: “Thank you very much; I’m very pleased to be here now. The deal is done and I’m very happy and very excited to join the team.”

 (On describing himself as a player to fans…)

 WILHELMSSON: “I’m not good at describing myself, but I’m a winger. A left midfielder or a right midfielder, quite fast. But we’ll see, they’ll have to see when I get on the field.”

 (On what he knows about the league…)

 WILHELMSSON: “I know that the league has been in progress over the last couple of years. I’m very excited to play in the MLS and I’m looking forward to get started and to get on the field, of course. It’s a new adventure that starts now and I’m very excited.”

05 September 9:54 am

The LA Galaxy announced on Wednesday morning that they have signed Swedish International Christian "Chippen" Wilhelmsson.

Wilhelmsson has been training with the club since last Friday, a fact that was first reported on the Insider and went 58 minutes during Tuesday's Reserve League 2-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes. Wilhelmsson will officially be added to the Galaxy roster pending the receipt of his P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

A winger, Wilhelmsson joins the Galaxy after a lengthy career in Europe that included stops in Sweden (Mjallby), Norway (Staebek), Belgium (Anderlecht), France (Nantes), Italy (Roma), England (Bolton Wanderers), Spain (Deportivo la Coruna), Saudi Arabia (Al-Hilal) and Qatar (Al-Ahli).  He has also made a total of 78 appearances for the Swedish national team, scoring nine goals while participating in the 2006 World Cup as well as the 2004, 2008 and 2012 European Championships. 

Wilhelmsson will wear the number 9 for the Galaxy. He'll be available to the media for the first time following Thursday's training session.