CARSON, Calif. – After three seasons of loans, Juninho is with the LA Galaxy for good and the tenacious Brazilian midfielder couldn’t be happier.
The deal to bring Juninho from Brazilian club Sao Paulo on a permanent basis became official in mid-January after the Brazilian spent the past three seasons on loan. Juninho returned to Southern California from Brazil last Thursday and spoke to the media for the first time on Monday.
The move from Southern California to Brazil took some time, perhaps because it included Juninho’s wife’s Yorkshire terrier Julie, but now that it is over, Juninho admits that things are “perfect” in LA.
“[It was] easy because I didn’t play [at Sao Paulo] too much,” said Juninho, who is currently in the process of applying for a green card. “Here Bruce [Arena] gives me all the support and love here. I play a lot of minutes. I’m happy to be here.”
Now that Juninho has arrived in Southern California, he is quickly looking to re-gain his fitness as he reported that he is currently at “70 percent” after the offseason, but expects to return to full fitness soon.
Although it was all smiles on Monday, Arena admits that the Galaxy entered the negotiations with Sao Paulo with some apprehension due to a few past experiences.
“We managed to do it in the first week of January. Our past experiences were it wasn’t going to be easy but it turned out to be something that made sense for both club," said Arena. "We’ve always had a good relationship with them. We’re happy for the player, we’re happy for our club.
“Sao Paulo is a club with a lot of talented players, sometimes they can’t keep everybody,” Arena added. "We were fortunate to create a relationship where we were able to get Juni here.”
With Juninho at The Home Depot Center for good, the Brazilian and the rest of the Galaxy can now focus on the task of going for an unprecedented third consecutive MLS Cup championship.
“It’s a different year with different kinds of players,” said Juninho. “I’ll during the games. I think we’ll be fine.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Count LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena among those pleased that defender Omar Gonzalez was called into the U.S. national team set up for Wednesday's 2014 World Cup Qualifier against Honduras.
Gonzalez is currently with the U.S. during their brief training camp in Miami, FL before they travel to Honduras for the match in San Pedro Sula.
"It’ll be a good opportunity for him. It’s a little late, I think he should have been in that mix much earlier," said Arena. "And I’m hopeful that he gets some quick experience and eventually be a fixture for the team.”
Gonzalez and the U.S. are in for a battle on Wednesday as they take on a tough Honduras team in the unfriendly confines of the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula. Although a qualifier in Central America always creates challenges for any opponent, the former U.S. national team boss admits that the conditions have improved across the region.
"San Pedro Sula is a tough place, I've had a qualifier there," said Arena. "Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica is a little bit more under control now. I think in the early days, CONCACAF didn't have a handle on a lot of stuff in the qualifying. it was like the Wild West. It's a little bit more structured now and it's a safer more productive environment for the players, but it's all difficult."
A few short notes from practice...
*Bruce Arena addressed a rumor from the website Soccer By Ives stating that the LA Galaxy are interested in acquiring the rights of U.S. International Robbie Rogers, which were dealt from the Columbus Crew to the Chicago Fire in the swap that sent Dilly Duka to Chicago and Dominic Oduro to Columbus. Arena stated that he 'was not aware of that" particular rumor and the Galaxy "have not discussed acquiring Rogers' rights with anybody."
*Arena also mentioned that there should be a resolution on the status of Re-Entry selection William Hesmer by the end of the week.
*Monday is LA Galaxy media day and there will be more coverage on the blog later today.
On Sunday, it was revealed that former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders is currently on trial with Real Salt Lake during their training camp in Irvine, Calif.
By virtue of offering Saunders a contract during the offseason, the Galaxy retained the rights to the two-time defending MLS Cup champion goalkeeper, but head coach Bruce Arena told reporters on Monday that LA will not stand in Saunders' way when he finds a new club.
“Josh is no longer with the Galaxy," said Arena. "Whatever the technical issues are, we’ll get that resolved. That’s not going to be in Josh’s way to move on to that team or another team in the league. We’ll support a move for him anyway that we can."
Omar Gonzalez is off to Honduras.
The LA Galaxy defender drew rave reviews during the U.S. national team's January camp as well as during their scoreless draw with Canada last week, so it was no surprised that Gonzalez was added to head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's 24-man squad for the U.S.' World Cup Qualifier against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Feb. 3. Gonzalez is one of just seven from the camp who earned a call-up joining Matt Besler, Brad Davis, Brad Evans, Eddie Johnson, Sean Johnson, and Graham Zusi.
The U.S. national team will train in Miami on Monday before flying to Central America to take on the Hondurans.
The complete roster as well as an interview with Klinsmann explaining the roster is below...
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (9) : Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (8) : Michael Bradley (Roma), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor ), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht ), Jose Torres (Tigres), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim ), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4 ): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
Former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders has turned in camp with Real Salt Lake for their camp in Irvine, Calif.
RSL's official website revealed that Saunders joined the camp on trial. Saunders is the fifth goalkeeper in camp with RSL, joining Nick Rimando, Jeff Attinella, Lalo Fernandez, and Mark Pais.
The Galaxy parted ways with the two-time defending MLS Cup winning goalkeeper during the offseason after Saunders accumulated a 1.33 Goals Against Average and 22-9-5 record in 36 appearances across all competitions in 2012.
CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy midfielder Hector Jimenez has made a name in MLS as a fleet-footed winger, and occasionally a right back, but on Friday, a late injury scratched pushed Jimenez into his old collegiate position—central midfield.
When Michael Stephens went down with an ankle injury on Thursday, the Galaxy opted to push Jimenez into central midfield for the second half of LA’s 5-0 preseason victory over the U.S. Under-17 national team. Jimenez looked right at home as he provided a leadership presence in the midfield for a youthful group composed primarily of rookies and Homegrown players.
“We were short numbers so [Galaxy assistant coach] Curt [Onalfo] and the coaching staff decided to put me there. I’ve played there before so I felt comfortable because it my original position when I started playing soccer. I was probably one of the older guys on the field at that point. It felt good, I got a lot of touches on the ball and I took charge of the midfield.”
The 24-year-old’s tidy performance drew rave reviews from Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and may lead to a further look in the position in the future.
“I thought he did a good job. He played well, I think that’s more of his natural position from his collegiate days and club ball, I know he’s played as a central midfielder,” said Arena. “We’ll look at him in both positions…We needed to fill that position and I thought that Hector did a good job there.”
Jimenez admits that the flank is his best chance to crack the Galaxy starting lineup particularly with LA’s vast assortment of options in central midfield but he’d be pleased any position that allows him to be a regular contributor.
“It’s my third year and in that year, you need to be more mature. Hopefully I can play well and contribute well this season,” said Jimenez. “I just have to come out here and control the things that I can control which is practice well and show the coaches that I deserve to be here and hopefully by the time season comes along, I’ll get some time.”
CARSON, Calif. – When Mike Magee joined the LA Galaxy via a trade with the New York Red Bulls in 2009; he was just a young kid of 24. Four years later, Magee has blossomed grown up before all our very eyes.
CARSON, Calif. --Earlier in the week, LA Galaxy forward Jack McBean graduated from high school at the ripe age of 18.
At the age that many of his peers at Corona Del Mar High School are planning their futures, McBean has already earned two consecutive MLS Cups. But like many of those teenagers seeking better futures, McBean is hoping to contribute more for the Galaxy in 2013.
A season after making three appearances and tallying three goals in all competitions, McBean is hoping for a larger role in LA's offense this season. The young forward is already off to a good start as he tallied in LA's 5-0 preseason victory over the U.S. Under-17's on Friday.
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may have begun their preseason slate on Friday with a 5-0 victory over the U.S. Under-17 national team, but they took time to offer their support to former LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, who signed with Paris St. Germain on Friday.
Beckham signed a five-month deal with PSG where he will offer his entire salary to a Parisian children’s charity.
On Friday, Bruce Arena and Robbie Keane offered their thoughts to Beckham’s move.
ARENA: “I think it’s great. We wish him the very best. I hope it works out and he wins another championship, he has a good experience and he helps PSG and continues to move forward in the final years. I’ll use plural because I’m never going to question him because he just keeps going.”
KEANE: "It’s great. He spoke to me yesterday; he said he was in a very charitable mood so I asked him for his Rolls Royce. He said no. I’m delighted for him, he loves playing and he obviously knows the manager very, very well. I’m sure he’ll do well, they’re a great team and it looks like they’ll be successful for a long, long time and it’s good for him to be a part of it.”
CARSON, Calif. –Omar Gonzalez returned to the LA Galaxy fold on Thursday after spending three weeks with the U.S. national team and was promptly thrown into action in Friday’s preseason match against the U.S. Under-17’s.
Gonzalez started the match alongside Tommy Meyer and went 45 minutes as LA defeated the U-17’s 5-0. In his first game back from U.S. duty, Gonzalez was largely untested as the U-17's registered just a single shot on frame during his 45 minute stint.
The preseason match was Gonzalez’s second in four days as he went 90 minutes in the U.S.’ scoreless draw against Canada on Tuesday. Although that match may have ended in a frustrating draw, Gonzalez was pleased with his performance throughout his first national team camp.
“The most important part was just getting to be with [head coach Jurgen Klinsmann] and the coaching staff for a few weeks. It was a good opportunity for me to be with them day in and day out and to see that I’m taking things really seriously,” said Gonzalez. “I’m looking for this opportunity and that was good. It was also good to be part of camp and work hard with all those guys. It was fun to build chemistry with guys around the league.”
However as he looks to help the Galaxy win their third straight title and eventually crack the U.S. national team set up, Gonzalez believes that he can still perfect his game.
“Of course, I don’t think my game is perfect. There are definitely things that I need to work on in my game,” said Gonzalez. “I just want to fine-tune everything in my game. Maybe pass a little bit better, make sure that I’m dominant in the air and my vocal presence.”
Klinsmann will announce the U.S. squad for Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifier against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Monday.
“I hope I get the invite,” affirmed Gonzalez