The LA Galaxy will play their most important game to date on Monday when they take on C.F. Monterrey in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals clash.
Read my Three Points to the below...
CARSON, Calif. – When Jose Villarreal was growing up in Inglewood, Mexican league games were a frequent part of his families’ weekend television regiment and among teams that the LA Galaxy forward enjoyed the most was Monterrey.
A self-professed fan of Liga MX giants Cruz Azul, as a child, Villarreal was hungry to consume any soccer game on television and frequently found himself watching Los Rayados.
“I grew up watching up watching these players on the weekends with my family,” said Villarreal of LA's CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal opponents. “I know most of the players and I’m a big fan of the team and a fan of them so it’s going to be a great experience for me to play against them.”
One player that sticks out most for Villarreal is Monterrey’s talented striker Humberto Suazo, who Villarreal believes is quite similar to LA’s own star forward Robbie Keane.
“He’s just a clever player. He’s another player like Robbie, same ability around the box and with his creativeness with the ball,” said Villarreal. “He’s lethal around the [penalty] area so it’s going to be a tough match up for our defenders.”
Villarreal is expected to contend for a starting spot alongside Keane, but no matter where he finds himself on LA’s team sheet, he’s eager for a chance to face a Mexican opponent.
“I always dreamed to play in Mexico and to have the chance to play against them tomorrow is going to be fun,” said Villarreal. “It’s going to be an experience and I’ll cherish that forever.”
CARSON, Calif. – Both CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals feature Mexican clubs against a pair of MLS sides, but even though Mexico and the U.S. have a fierce rivalry at the international level, the LA Galaxy don’t believe that it translates to the CCL.
Following the Galaxy’s final training session ahead of Wednesday’s CCL Semifinal first leg against Monterrey, LA head coach Bruce Arena and forward Landon Donovan—both renowned for their contributions to the U.S. National Team—each disagreed that the rivalry will play a role in CCL.
Their comments are below…
ARENA: “I don’t think the national team’s rivalry has anything to do with this competition, to be honest with you. These are not all Mexican players against all-American players in this competition. It is truly a club competition so it has a very different take than a national team.”
DONOVAN: “I don’t know how the other guys feel, but in the end, you’re going to assume that it’s going to come down to U.S. and Mexican teams in this part of the tournament. Once in a while, you’ll probably have a team break through from another country, but that’s just sort of the expectation. A lot of our players aren't American, a lot of their players aren't Mexican so it changes that a little bit.”
Do you agree?
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CARSON, Calif. – Carlo Cudicini admittedly didn’t know much about CONCACAF soccer during his time in Europe, but since joining the LA Galaxy, the veteran Italian goalkeeper has become quickly familiar with the leagues of North America.
The Italian was solid in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals against C.S. Herediano as he allowed just a single goal over the two-leg series. However, the Italian knows that the two-time defending CCL champions will provide much more of a challenge than LA’s Quarterfinal opponents.
“Definitely, it’s a great test for us. Especially in the semifinals, we know that we have a big challenge in front of us, but we are up for it,” said Cudicini. “We want to do well in this competition so we know that it’s going to be hard, but hopefully we have the right mentality to go and play against these guys.”
As for Monterrey, Cudicini highlights forward Humberto “El Chupete” Suazo as a player that should give the Galaxy back four and himself a test on Wednesday.
“They have a striker [in Suazo] that is part of the national team and we know that he is a good strong guy,” said Cudicini. “Collectively, it’s a good team. They play with a solid defense and they’re very dangerous with free kicks and set pieces in general. Definitely for a team that won the last two editions, it must be something good in it.”
To preview Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League match, LAGalaxy.com's Joe Tutino spoke to Fox Soccer commentator Brian Dunseth on the LA Galaxy's CCL Semifinals opponents C.F. Monterrey.
Listen to the podcast below...
CARSON, Calif. -- Mike Magee continued his torrid scoring run on Saturday with a goal in the LA Galaxy's 2-2 draw against Toronto FC and held on to his spot atop the MLS scoring charts.
After four games, Magee has scored five goals and has already equaled his regular season goal total from the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Magee is just two away from his regular season career-high which he set during his rookie year in 2003 while a member of the MetroStars.
Following training on Monday, forward Landon Donovan offered his thoughts on Magee's scoring run.
DONOVAN: "To those of us who see him all the time, it’s not a surprise. I’ve said this many times that he and Robbie are far away the best two finishers on this team. I think that Jose will be a close second behind those two. He’s taking his chances. He always gets chances, every game that we play, he gets chances and he is sort of the forgotten guy in the fold. Teams keep forgetting about him and he keeps punishing them. Until they figure out that that’s a guy that they got to mark, he’ll keep scoring goals. And he probably still will even if they decide to mark him."
A couple notes from Monday's session are below..
*Gyasi Zardes was out at training on Monday running laps while the team trained. This development comes a month after Zardes said that he was hoping to return to training sometime in April.
*Bryan Gaul and Kenney Walker trained fully with the full group for the first time on Monday after dealing with injuries.
It comes as little surprise that Jose Villarreal's stunning stoppage time scissor kick goal that helped the Galaxy in a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC is up for MLSsoccer.com's Goal of the Week.
You can vote for Jose Villarreal, who is up against Chivas USA's Eric Avila, Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi, Colorado Rapids' Dillon Powers, and New York Red Bulls' Thierry Henry here. The honors don't stop there as he is also nominated by FutbolMLS.com for Latino de la Jornada (Latino of the Week).
Villarreal's goal was also selected as ninth in Sports Center's Top Plays for the month of March.
Relive the goal below...
CARSON, Calif. –Following the LA Galaxy’s first day training on Wednesday, head coach Bruce Arena addressed the media on Wednesday’s vital CONCACAF Champions League First Leg clash against Monterrey at The Home Depot Center.
Arena’s thoughts on two-time CCL champions are below…
ARENA: “They’re a very good team. Obviously, it’s going to be a really good match as we all know, they've been arguably the best team in the region over the last couple of years. [They have] a number of talented and experienced players [with] a good mixture of young players and experienced, but all quality.”
(On if the Galaxy need a certain result in the first leg…)
ARENA: “If you start getting into that game then what does that mean? At 180 minutes, you need to have generally more goals than the other team although the away goal is a factor.”
(On if he’s watched Monterrey so far…)
ARENA: “We know the team; it’s a very good team. They’re a team that’s good in every position on the field.”
(On if he tailors his team to Monterrey…)
ARENA: “No, you are who you are at this point. The reason that the teams that are left in this competition are still around is because they understand their teams and they understand how to play in the competition. It’s simply going to be a question, on the night, who is more opportunistic, who is playing well. It’s all it is. It’s that simple. We’re not going to change a whole lot of what we've done and hopefully, it’ll be good enough.”
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane missed out on Saturday's 2-2 draw with Toronto FC just days after withdrawing from Ireland due to a calf injury, but on Monday, he was back in the swing of things for LA.
Jack McBean and Mike Magee took the reins up top on Saturday against TFC as Keane returned to Southern California to continue treatment, but on Monday, Keane was back to full training according to Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and is expected to be available for Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal first leg against Monterrey.
"Robbie looks fine," said Arena. "I expect him to be available [on Wednesday]. If he's available, he's a potential starter."
Among those impressed with Keane's fitness level was Keane's Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan.
"Robbie looked great. He looked sharp," said Donovan. "You’d have to ask him how he's feeling and how his calf is doing, but he looked okay and hopefully he can contribute on Wednesday."
Do you expect Keane to start on Wednesday?
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The 18-year-old forward was able to hold up play and find Marcelo Sarvas, who connected witth Magee for the opening goal.
McBean now has two goals and one assist in six career appearances since joining the Galaxy in 2011.
The highlight of McBean's first career assist is below...