CARSON, Calif. – To shut down MLS leading goal scorer Marco Di Vaio, the LA Galaxy needed to be constantly cognizant of the forward’s drifting runs behind the defense and with a little help from goalkeeper Brian Rowe that mission was accomplished.
The Montreal Impact tested LA early on as they found space behind a high line created by the Galaxy back four, but the home side adjusted quickly with some aid from the backup ‘keeper. Montreal was caught offside a whopping eight times in their 1-0 defeat to the Galaxy, but when LA wasn't able to keep their attack under wraps, Rowe came and bailed out the defense.
When Di Vaio, strike partner Andrew Wenger or any other Impact attacker drifted behind the defense, Rowe marched off his line to clear out the danger.
“We knew coming in, that [Di Vaio] probably leads the league in offside [calls], so we knew he sort of wanted to sneak in and try to find those through balls,” said Rowe, who made two recoveries and two clearances to go with a pair of saves on Wednesday in his fourth MLS start. “The back line did a great job staying together and holding their line, dropping when they need too, and I was able to stay off my line a little bit to sniff those out.”
Goal scorer Kofi Opare offered Rowe a “ten out of ten” for his performance, but he wasn’t the only one who was pleased with the backup ‘keeper.
“He needs to be active and get off his line. I think with [Marco] Di Vaio on the field, he’s always going to be a player pursuing opportunities in the penalty area,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “If you don’t come off your line, he’s going to knick one. I thought Brian Rowe’s aggressiveness was a big part of our success today.”
With starter Jaime Penedo bound to return to the starting XI for Sunday's San Jose Earthquakes after returning from international duty on Thursday, Rowe will once again return to the bench until LA's CONCACAF Champions League finale against Isidro Metapan on Oct. 24. After racking up the second shutout of his young career, Rowe couldn't help but reflect on a season that has seen him develop from a third string ‘keeper at the start of the season to a confident starter.
“It's been very cool. It’s been unexpected if I wanted to look back [at the start of the year] at what I thought my role would be on the team,” said Rowe. “I've taken it in stride and I’m so excited that I can’t say.”
We're coming in on the last two MLS regular season games of the year, so I have a simple question: who is your LA Galaxy team MVP for the 2013 season?
I've limited the number of candidates down to my top six candidates, but if you disagree with one of my selections, let me know in the comments section below.
We heard about the dates for the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs a few weeks ago and now we have official confirmation as the league released the postseason schedule on Thursday.
The playoffs will span from Oct. 30 (Knockout Round) to Dec. 7 (MLS Cup) with the league observing the international fixture date in the third week of November.
The complete schedule is below...
Knockout Games: Oct. 30-31 (Wed.-Thurs.)
Conference Semifinals, Leg 1: Nov. 2-3 (Sat.-Sun.)
Conference Semifinals, Leg 2: Nov. 6-7 (Wed.-Thurs.)
Conference Finals, Leg 1: Nov. 9-10 (Sat.-Sun.)
Conference Finals, Leg 2: Nov. 23-24 (Sat.-Sun.)
MLS Cup: Dec. 7 (Sat.)
Think the Galaxy will be able to traverse the postseason and qualify for MLS Cup yet again?
Share your thoughts below.
Robbie Keane had quite the last 48 hours.
After going the distance in Ireland's World Cup qualifying victory over Kazakhstan on Tuesday, he hopped on a transcontintential flight bound for Southern California, and was on the field for the LA Galaxy by Wednesday evening. I chronicle Keane's journey from Ireland to StubHub Center for LA's match in this piece for LAGalaxy.com.
Keane's full conversation with reporters after the game is below.
CARSON, Calif. -- Sometimes sports takes a back seat to real life and on Wednesday, Kofi Opare paid tribute to his fallen friend Arif Merani after scoring his first career MLS goal in the LA Galaxy's 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact.
After scoring in the 68th minute, Opare lifted his shirt to reveal a "R.I.P. Arif" message to honor Merani, who died on Monday after being struck by a car while attempting to change a flat tire as drove back to Carleton University after spending the Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday with family in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Merani and Opare both attended Saint Paul Catholic High School and were neighbors.
Once Opare learned about Merani's death, he knew what he was going to honor his friend: score a goal.
“I said I was going to honor him by scoring. I said I was going to score and dedicate it to him,” said Opare of his high school friend from Niagara Falls, Ontario. “I told people I was going to score my first goal for him. I'm glad that all went to plan, I guess, and we got the three points.”
A snap shot courtesy of LA Galaxy photographer Robert Mora is below.
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena's thoughts from LA's 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact.
(On his overall thoughts of the game...)
ARENA: “All I told our team was a great win, maybe not a great game, but a great win.”
(On the play of Brian Rowe...)
ARENA: “He needs to be active and get off his line. I think with [Marco] Di Vaio on the field, he’s always going to be a player pursuing opportunities in the penalty area. If you don’t come off your line, he’s going to knick one. I thought Brian Rowe’s aggressiveness was a big part of our success today.”
On the goal scored by Kofi Opare...)
ARENA: “Not surprising that the goal came off a bit of a scramble, which was likely expected given the circumstances of the game and all. Give Kofi [Opare] a lot of credit, Robbie [Keane] kept the ball alive. We had a couple of other chances during the game. I think their keeper did well. I think in the first half we were very poor technically, too slow on ball. When we got into the second half, we got a little bit better. But we know we could be better than we were tonight.”
(On the play of Robbie Keane...)
ARENA: “I don’t know if you were surprised he didn’t start the game, he played 90 minutes last night in Dublin, I wouldn’t think we could get 90 minutes out of him tonight. I would have liked to have not played him, but we needed to get Robbie on the field and his presence was spectacular. He gave the team confidence, energy, and the technical ability we needed to try and break this team down. He told me he was playing, I have been in touch with him via text messages and he indicated to me from yesterday on that he was going to be ready and I said let’s wait and see. He arrived at 3’oclock today and he walked in and said he was ready to go to give us as many minutes as we need.”
(On the status of Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan for Sunday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes...)
ARENA: "We expect them to be ready to play this weekend."
Ahead of Wednesday's match against the Montreal Impact, MLSsoccer.com's Matthew Doyle breaks down the play of LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan and Montreal's Marco Di Vaio.
Check it out below.
It went down to the wire, but Jaime Penedo’s World Cup dream ended on Tuesday evening as Panama fell 3-2 to the United States.
Panama needed only a Mexico defeat to Costa Rica and a win over the U.S. to qualify and appeared to be on their way to the two-leg playoff with New Zealand when Luis Tejada broke a 1-1 deadlock with a goal in 84th minute. However, Panama’s hopes were dashed in stoppage time when the U.S. scored twice off goals from Graham Zusi and Aron Johansson to end Los Canaleros’ hopes of reaching Brazil.
With the defeat, Panama finishes in fifth in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying while Mexico earns a berth in the two-leg playoff against New Zealand in November.
Send positive vibes to Penedo in the comment section below.
In the latest edition of the LA Galaxy All-Access Podcast, I sit down with the "voice of the Galaxy" Joe Tutino to discuss the team's run to the postseason.
Check it out below...
CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan’s bid to appear in the LA Galaxy’s match against the Montreal Impact is going to come right down to the wire.
Donovan is still dealing with a left ankle injury that forced him to withdraw early from international duty with the U.S. National Team. According to Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, there is still no update on Donovan -- or defender Omar Gonzalez who is dealing with a left hip strain -- but in an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Donovan admitted that he’s “day-to-day” with an injury that may have been worse than he and the Galaxy initially feared.
“[I'm] not feeling great, but we're going to try to manage it the right way because it’s a little worse than we thought initially. We're going to be smart about it and try to get it ready for a push at the end of the season,” Donovan said. “Something got worse, so it's hard to know if there was an incident or if was just some wear and tear or something, but somewhere along the way, it took a wrong turn.”
With the Galaxy preparing to play a pair of matches this week against Montreal and the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday—where LA can clinch a berth in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs with a victory—Donovan admits that he must be "smart" when deciding when to play.
“We're always hopeful that you wake up one day and it feels good and you can play, and that's how we're going to take it every day,” said Donovan. “It's felt better the last few days by just resting, but we have to wake up and see how it is tomorrow. I’m going to be smart about it. The way that it’s going to be is that to make sure that it's in a position so you're not doing more damage, but if I can play, I want to play.”
If Donovan does participate, he'll have a chance to take sole possession of MLS’ all-time regular season goal scoring record. Donovan is currently tied with Jeff Cunningham with 134 goals.