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.
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) January 23, 2013
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.
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.”
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.”
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...
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.
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.
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.”
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.
INDIANAPOLIS – Gyasi Zardes may have signed a Homegrown deal with the LA Galaxy in December, but he still got his SuperDraft moment in January as two other Homegrown players were presented at Thursday’s 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
One of the top goal scorers in college soccer, Zardes notched 33 goals in 37 games with the Roadrunners over his four seasons at CSU Bakersfield. Although his Homegrown status prevented him from taking part in the draft day festivities, Zardes believes that he was far better off signing a deal for LA.
“It was a great decision to sign a Homegrown because I knew which club I was going to play for and prepare for,” Zardes said, “as opposed to these guys [in the SuperDraft] – they’re waiting and waiting. It just helped me prepare sooner than these guys"
When the Galaxy begin their preseason on Monday, Zardes is expected to challenge for a forward spot alongside LA’s leading goal scorer from 2012, Robbie Keane. As he prepares to play alongside the talented Irishman, Zardes – who is proud of the “flair and style” in his game— admits that he’s been taking notes on how he could fit alongside Keane.
“I’m excited to play alongside Robbie Keane and just learn as much as I possibly can,” said Zardes. “I watch how many guys cram and defend Robbie Keane and I think to myself that I can make those kinds of runs to be open for the future.”
But can Zardes step in during his first rookie season? Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena seems to think so.
"We sense that he's going to be able to help us a little bit this year,” said Arena. "He's a very bright, articulate, confident kid and hopefully that translates a little bit on the field, where it counts."
And where does Zardes believe that he would have gone if he entered the draft?
“In my eyes, I think I would’ve gone No. 1,” said Zardes with a smile.