Beat

02 March 12:08 pm

CARSON, Calif. – On Sunday, the LA Galaxy will celebrate winning their fourth MLS Cup title, but for all the team’s success on and off the field, Galaxy President Chris Klein believes that greater days are ahead for the club.

At the unveiling of a new sport court for the Carson Boys and Girls Club, I caught up with Klein for a quick chat on the state of the club.

Check it out below...

LA GALAXY INSIDER: “Chris, what is the state of the team heading into the 2013 season?”

KLEIN: “I think the state of the team is very good. It’s not perfect, obviously, we’re still missing Landon, but I think that the preparation that the team has had has been as good as it can get. We have our home opener which we have to deal with then our focus turns to Champions League. Bruce has been very clear is our initial goal in 2013 is to start better than 2012, which seems simple, but it’s something that the team and group is focused on.”

LAGI: You mentioned the CONCACAF Champions League, just how important is that competition for the team as a brand and on the business side?

KLEIN: “It’s important for us as the Galaxy. There’s no brand or business issue, it’s important for us. Our league and the Galaxy have to establish that we are the best league and the Galaxy has the best team in this region. And that includes being able to complete effectively against Mexican clubs, it’s very simple. We have to establish that we can do that.”

LAGI: You’re heading into the first year without David Beckham. How does that change things for the club?

KLEIN: “I don’t know that it changed things a lot. One thing that we realized that as great as an asset as David was, he helped us to realize what the Galaxy could become—a worldwide brand and something that people wanted to see. Now we’ve taken that torch and continued on. We’re confident that the Galaxy’s best days are ahead of us.”

LAGI: Has there been any impact on business side from Beckham’s absence?

KLEIN: “No, there hasn’t. We’ve had very few people that have called in and said that they don’t want to come to our games because David is not there. That’s not a slight against David; it’s more of a good thing for the Galaxy. People come out to see the Galaxy and to see us win. David was instrumental in helping us win two championships back to back and I think that is where his greatest contribution was.”

LAGI: “Handing that the business side is your primary job now, what is the state of the organization on that front?”

KLEIN:  “It’s going very well. Last year, our season ticket holders increased almost 100 percent. We were not where we were supposed to be, but we’re looking to add to that again this year. We have a different approach in terms of relating to the local community. Whether it is [community initiatives] or whether it’s relating to the soccer community or whether it’s getting people to come to our games. We want to create an atmosphere that looks and feels like a soccer game that you can see all over the world."

LAGI: “The club has been very aggressive on the marketing side with an outdoor marking campaign across Southern California. How has that impacted the club?

KLEIN: “It helped. Our intention was to be bold with our marketing. We shouldn’t be shy about who we are and who we want to be and that starts at the top with our ownership group with Tim Leiweke and AEG. We’ve won two championships in a row and our expectation is to keep the level very, very high. We have great backing from our owner and I think that’s where it starts. To be able to go out and market the way we do, to have the players that we have and to have the organization and staff that we have says something about our league and about the Galaxy."

LAGI: “Lastly, what is the discord like between the Galaxy and other organizations about marketing strategies? Do organizations regularly share info on what works in their market with other clubs?

KLEIN: “Absolutely. We can all learn from other organizations. One of the great things about our league is that we’re not too proud to ask for help. If we see something that we think works well, what do they say; imitation is the greatest form of flattery. We’re okay to do that and we’re also very open that if someone sees something that we’re doing that makes sense to them, then we’re happy to share that information with them.” 

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What are your thoughts on Klein's comments? 

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02 March 9:34 am

Ahead of the LA Galaxy's MLS regular season opener against the Chicago Fire, Joe Tutino and Cobi Jones provided a preview of the match in the first edition of "View from Booth" of 2013.

Check it out below...

02 March 8:24 am

Jose Villarreal did not feature due to an ankle injury, but the U.S. Under-20’s qualified for the final of the CONCACAF U-20 Championships on Friday with a 2-0 victory over Cuba.  Waiting for the U.S. in the final on Sunday will be defending champion Mexico who defeated El Salvador 2-0.

Mario Rodriguez— a former Galaxy Academy member— and Santos Laguna starlet Daniel Cuevas scored three minutes apart as the U.S. blanked the Cubans.  Galaxy Academy product and current UCLA defender Javan Torre got the start in central defense and played a full 90 minutes.

The U.S. will look to win the tournament for the first time ever against a vaunted Mexican side that boasts two American-born players including Mission Hills-native goalkeeper Richard Sanchez and Texas-born midfielder Uvaldo Luna.

01 March 7:18 pm

CARSON, Calif -- Just days before the 2012 MLS Cup, the LA Galaxy Foundation working in tandem with AEG and MLS W.O.R.K.S. pledged to bring a new sport court to the Boys and Girls Club of Carson and two days ahead of the 2013, they delievered. 

Galaxy President Chris Klein, Galaxy players Colin Clark, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, and LA alumus Clint Mathis were hand as the new court was unveiled to the children of the Boys and Girls Club. Following the unveiling, Mathis led a brief soccer clinic for the members of the program. 

As the Galaxy look to establish a greater foothold in the Southern California community, Klein believes that events like this are vital for the club. 

"These are important for us for a number of reasons. This is the Boys and Girls Club of Carson, which is in our backyard. With the Galaxy Foundation and our club, it's important to invest in the local community around us," said Klein. "We want to give kids an opportunity to grow and have a chance and we feel that learning the sport of soccer is one way that they can do that. Our players are a great positive example of what can happen in a team sport so this is a great avenue for us to show that."

I was on hand for the event and provided a few photos of the presentation. Check that out below. 

01 March 6:31 pm

CARSON, Calif. – One of the larger predicaments facing the LA Galaxy this preseason has been deciding just who would get the start alongside Omar Gonzalez in central defense.  Ahead of the season opener against the Chicago Fire, it seems that two options—Leonardo and A.J. DeLaGarza have risen to the top of the heap.

MLS Cup starter Tommy Meyer has been sidelined with a nagging left hamstring injury leaving Leonardo and DeLaGarza to earn minutes in central defense alongside the U.S. national team defender.  Both have appeared solid, but Leonardo has impressed particularly after missing much of the last two seasons due to the after effects of knee surgery.

However, it is worth nothing that the last time all three were available for the preseason game –LA’s victory over LIGA MX’s Club Tijuana—it was Leonardo who got the start alongside the Brazilian.

When asked if it would be Leonardo starting against the Fire following Friday’s training session, Bruce Arena quickly reiterated that DeLaGarza is another likely option.

“Or A.J.,” the Galaxy boss sharply noted. “Omar and A.J. typically play together in the center, and they're very experienced players, probably been together the last seven, eight years [including time at the University of Maryland]. I think Leo, whenever he's come in and played with Omar or A.J., has done quite well.”

DeLaGarza’s partnership with Gonzalez, which has lasted since their days at the University of Maryland, is well documented, but Leonardo has had his own success when teaming up with Gonzalez. The pair made a pair of brief preseason appearances together against Tijuana and South Korean side Gangwon FC.  Leonardo and Gonzalez also combined 12 times during the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the Galaxy going 6-2-4 in that time.

If Leonardo is the option on Sunday, however, Gonzalez believes that he has complete faith in Leonardo—especially after both recovered from major knee injuries in the past year.

“Leonardo – man, that's another story similar to mine, maybe a little worse than mine,” said Gonzalez. “Two years to come back, and what a story that is. He's just been playing really well lately, he's been showing that he's fit, he's ready to step on the field, and everyone's more than happy to have him out there.

“I've only been paired up with him [during] a couple of [preseason] games here and there, but it was just the way it was before he got hurt,” said Gonzalez. “[Leonardo’s addition] adds a lot more depth, it gives you the opportunity to maybe rotate more guys, because everybody's a solid defender, everybody has quality. You can move A.J. to right back or keep him as center back. You just have a lot more options.”

01 March 12:26 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy bolstered their attacking depth on Friday by acquiring Chandler Hoffman from the Philadelphia Union in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.

The 13th overall selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft out of UCLA, Hoffman made seven appearances for the Union in his only season for the club while being reduced to a reserve role.  Although he struggled for time in Philadelphia, Hoffman was prolific for the Bruins as he scored 29 goals and 10 assists in his three years in Westwood.

Following training on Friday, Arena admitted that Hoffman should bolster the Galaxy’s forward depth, but the Galaxy boss “doubts” he’ll be on the bench come Sunday’s season opener against the Chicago Fire.

 “He’s a good young player and we’ve known him from his UCLA days. He’s a young promising player, but we need to get him into our team and see if we can move him along as a player,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “We always look around for young promising players and he’s a guy that we’re familiar with.  There’s no given with anything, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits into our environment on a daily basis and hopefully, he’s player that we can move him along well to help our team.”

Hoffman’s teammate at UCLA, LA third goalkeeper Brian Rowe believes that his college teammate could do big things at The Home Depot Center.

“It’ll be great. He has a knack for the goal and he gets into good spots so with good players like Robbie [Keane], once Gyasi [Zardes] gets back, he’ll be a good threat," said Rowe. "He considers L.A. to be his second home after going to UCLA and I think he’ll be happy and motivated to do well.

“He’s always one to stay late and put in the time to do work and improve himself. He’s one that always wants to keep learning,” Rowe added. “It’ll be a good personality to have around the locker room.”

Hoffman will become the fifth Galaxy forward under the age of 23—joining Jack McBean (18), Charlie Rugg (22), Jose Villarreal (19), and Gyasi Zardes (21) –  but Arena doesn’t believe that “stockpiling” is the right term for what LA’s actions.

“I don’t know if that’s the right term. I hope that eventually, it becomes the right term for the description of these players,” said Arena. “They haven’t tasted a whole lot of success yet so we have to see. Hopefully down the road, they’re going to be players who are very important for the Galaxy.” 

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What are your thoughts on Hoffman's acquisition?

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01 March 10:52 am

LOS ANGELES – Gyasi Zardes is still at least a month away from returning to the training ground, but the LA Galaxy Homegrown forward recently spoke to reporters to provide a progress report for his recovery.

The 21-year-old Homegrown signing underwent surgery in early February after cracking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. On Wednesday, Zardes was spotted on crutches and a walking boot –which he has been wearing nearly three weeks – during LA’s unveiling of their new second kit at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE.  There is currently no timeline for his return, but Zardes says he will undergo further X-rays in two weeks and hopes to return sometime in April.

Prior to his injury, Zardes appeared in two preseason games, but a sudden freak issue forced him to the sidelines. 

“I came into camp and I felt fine, but on certain days, I felt a pain. In one practice, I felt a throbbing pain and I got it checked out, it turns out it was a hairline fracture and I didn’t even know it,” said Zardes. “I think it was the shoes that I was running in that had a bad arch…over time it got worse and worse.  But at least, I still got to nip it in the bud before it got worse.”

However, Zardes is doing what he can to keep his spirits up, particularly conversing with teammate Kenney Walker who endured a similar injury this preseason, albeit on his right foot, just prior to Zardes.

“I’m asking him for questions because he’s a genius at it since he’s went through everything I’m going through two weeks ahead of me,” said Zardes. “I’m constantly asking him questions every time I see him.”

Just when Zardes will return to the training ground remains to be seen, but the forward is keeping his spirits high.

“It really helps me look at the big picture because obviously, I’m a college kid and I’m anxious to get on the field, but this has helped me be mellow and stay humble,” said Zardes. “It’s a long season as they say…I’m thinking short term, but they’re thinking long term.”

28 February 7:06 pm

CARSON, Calif -- LA Galaxy rookie Greg Cochrane has been one of the breakout stars of the preseason, but when the midfielder -- who tweeted on Thursday that he had signed a deal with the club -- was with the University of Louisville, he was known as much for his long flowing mane as his hustle play.

Prior to being drafted by the Galaxy with the 38th overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Cochrane chopped off his long hair for a good cause, donating 10 inches to the non-profit organization Locks of Love. 

Check out my story on Cochrane's good deed and his development with the LA Galaxy here.

28 February 5:04 pm

LOS ANGELES -- Mike Magee looks set to feature in Sunday’s MLS regular season opener against the Chicago Fire, but center back Tommy Meyer remains a question mark due to a nagging left hamstring that caused him to miss the club's last three preseason games. 

Meyer told reporters on Wednesday -- at the club's second kit unveiling at The GRAMMY Museum -- that the injury  is his first ever hamstring strain, but “not the worst” in terms of the injuries that he has had in his career.  Currently, Meyer is working with the training staff, primarily performing exercises in the weight room in order to maintain his fitness for his eventual return.

But just when he returns to action remains a question mark as he asserted that any timeline is between the defender and the training staff.  However, Meyer attested that he and the training staff are “working to try and get back,” but just how quickly that comes to fruition remains up to head coach Bruce Arena and the trainers.

28 February 3:47 pm

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Bruce Arena revealed in Wednesday’s second kit unveiling at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE that Robbie Keane will take over captaincy duties from Landon Donovan.

Some may wonder if this may mean a reduced leadership role for Donovan once he returns to the club in late-March, but Galaxy veteran defender Todd Dunivant asserts that there is no chance of that happening.  Few know Donovan better than Dunivant who has played alongside the forward for eight seasons.  

Media members caught up with Dunivant on Wednesday to discuss Keane’s appointment and the left back stressed that Donovan will remain a leader in the locker room once he returns to the club.

“We’re in capable hands with either one of those guys without a doubt. At the end of the day, if Landon comes back and he's not officially captain, he's still going to be a leader and he's still going to be the heart and soul of this team, like he's been for [nearly a] decade,” Dunivant said. “Landon will be fine, no doubt. He's not going to lose his standing in the team or his place in the team, and we all know that. Without, he’s going to step right back in and he’s one of those freaks of nature who can take one or two months off and be fit in a week so we’re not worried about Landon.”