Beat

13 August 9:26 pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The LA Galaxy Insider project is continuing to evolve on a daily basis and part of that evolution is creating more engagement with the readers. 

As part of that pursuit, allow me to introduce a new segment to the blog called "Ask the Insider." After each match, readers are encouraged to provide their questions on the LA Galaxy Facebook page and one question will be answered right here on the blog, with the winner receiving tickets to an upcoming game. 

Below is the first installment of "Ask the Insider":

From Marvin G. Machón:  How difficult was it for the big four (A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant) to start a game together for the first time this year? Did everything just click or was it hard to adjust to each other again?

Thanks for the question, Marvin. 

If it was difficult for LA's "big four" to play together again for the first time in nearly a year, they hardly showed it on Sunday against Chivas USA. Throughout the match, the back four looked like the organized and cohesive unit that anchored the Galaxy to the 2011 MLS Cup championship as they repeatedly shut down the Rojiblancos attack--limiting them to just three shots on goal.

The back four appeared in sync from the opening whistle and it showed during one of the game's definitive moments, which came in the 48th minute of play.  With LA up by just a single goal, Chivas were able to take possession inside the Galaxy's 18-yard-box following a flubbed clearance by goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Rather than panic, the back line maintained their shape amid the onslaught as they deflected a pair of Chivas shots from close range—including a goal line clearance by DeLaGarza—before Juninho cleared the ball out of danger. This moment would prove decisive as less than 20 minutes later; Juninho doubled LA’s lead setting the stage for LA's 4-0 rout. 

While all matches won't be as smooth as last Sunday -- and Wednesday's emotional match against the Crew promises to provide a stiff test to LA’s back line -- the quartet's performance was certainly a step in the right direction for a Galaxy team that has aspirations of climbing up the Western Conference standings. 

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Thanks again to Marvin, you can get your tickets by e-mailing socialmedia@lagalaxy.com. For everyone else, remember to leave your questions on the LA Galaxy Facebook page following Wednesday's match for the chance to have your question featured. 

We'll have more coverage of Wednesday's match following Tuesday's training session. 

13 August 8:33 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- A day after defeating Chivas USA 4-0 in the SuperClásico, the LA Galaxy spent much of Monday in the clouds as part of a marathon travel day en route to Columbus for Wednesday's match against the Columbus Crew. 

Above is a photo that I snapped on the plane during the club's final approach into Columbus.

For more coverage of Sunday's match, be sure to consult my "First XI" stories  as well as my "Three Points" to LA's SuperClásico victory. 

12 August 11:37 pm

Carson, Calif. -- It was a night to remember for Landon Donovan.

The LA Galaxy captain set a career-high for assists -- while also tying an MLS record for most assists in a match -- with four during LA's 4-0 domination of Chivas USA on Sunday  evening. With the performance, Donovan lifted his MLS career assist number to 105 moving into fourth place all-time in MLS' career assist list bypassing D.C. United legend Jaime Moreno. That wasn't all, however, as Donovan brought his 2012 assist total to 11, giving him sole possession of the league lead in assists. 

In 21 regular season matches against Chivas, Donovan has nine goals and 12 assists against the Rojiblancos

Below are Donovan and head coach Bruce Arena's thoughts on the Galaxy captain by passing Moreno:

DONOVAN: "In my opinion, he’s the best player that has played in this league. I’m honored to be mentioned in that company and I’m just doing my job and if I can get more then that’s great.”

ARENA: "Jaime was one of the great players in the history of this league. And a great person and I’d say the same with Landon. Landon really was focused on playing well tonight, and when he wants, he’s as good as any player in this league and I thought he and Robbie once again were in great form."

12 August 2:50 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- We're just several hours away from the final Superclásico of the year and here are a few links to get you to kick off. 

Read Larry Morgan's game preview of the Superclásico, focusing on bouncing back from last week's defeat to the Seattle Sounders 

Meanwhile, Scott French discusses the impact that new Chivas USA midfielder Shalrie Joseph will have on the match. 

Lastly, once the game begins, follow the action along with me on MLSsoccer.com's live chat  and also, I'll be answering one select question from the Galaxy's Facebook page tonight so leave your comments and questions there. 

PREDICTED LINEUP: Saunders; Franklin, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Dunivant; Jimenez, Juninho, Sarvas, Magee; Donovan, Keane

12 August 1:09 pm

LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan has been called up to the United States national team roster for next Wednesday's friendly against Mexico.

Donovan was named to the U.S. travel roster on Sunday by national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the USMNT's August 15th friendly against El Tri at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Due to his call up, Donovan will miss Wednesday's league match against the Columbus Crew.

Wednesday's friendly against Mexico will be an precursor for Donovan and the U.S. as they prepare to resume World Cup Qualifying, which ramps up this fall starting with a September 7th match against Jamaica in Kingston.

12 August 11:54 am

CARSON, Calif. -- In the wake of last week's disappointing 4-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders, LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders knows that the club's defense must change for LA to pick up an important victory in Sunday's Superclásico against Chivas USA. 

There has been considerable talk this week -- and numerous articles written by yours truly and others -- on a potential return of the back four of Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant, a quartet that along with Saunders, helped anchor the Galaxy to the 2011 MLS Cup Championship. While Saunders would welcome their group's return, he believes that it is far more important for the club's defensive mentality to change rather than simply the personnel.  

"It's always welcome to see something like that because we know it works, but it's more than just a back four, it's a collective unit that has to defend. You put a lot on the back, but in the end, it's everybody defending." 

12 August 9:17 am

A Good Superclásico Morning to everyone out there,

For those looking for some early morning reading before you head out to The Home Depot Center, check out my Three Points to the SuperClasico.

A note from last night's MLS results:With the Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes picking up victories over Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders respectively, the LA Galaxy now sit four points behind fourth place Vancouver ahead of tonight's match.

I'll have  a few more updates as we get closer to the 8pm PST kick off.

11 August 2:19 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The mood surrounding American soccer circles in the wake of Mexico’s 2-1 Olympic gold medal winning victory over Brazil on Saturday ranged from anguish to jubilation, frustration to anger, but for two members of the LA Galaxy, the match provided only motivation.  

Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens was on the U.S. Under-23 squad that defeated the Mexican U-23s in March -- a team that contained many of the same players that went on to win the gold medal for Mexico -- as well as the roster for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games. After a fast start to Olympic qualifying, a pair of disappointing results ultimately led to the Americans ouster from Olympic contention.

While the sting of missing out on the Olympics has long since passed for Stephens, the 23-year-old midfielder admits that watching Mexico win gold has provided motivation for himself and the rest of U.S. Soccer.

“Absolutely, if you watch those teams, those are really good teams. It’s true that the U.S. is always competing with and those [Olympic players] are the guys that are going to coming onto the full team so it’s a wake-up call to the U.S. for sure,” said Stephens after Galaxy training on Saturday. “I think that anyone that and see players that are in the same age bracket as that and see players that are the same age as them, they’re always going to want to get better and get to that level. I’m no different.”

Stephens’ dream of the Olympics may never come true, but for his teammate forward Jack McBean, the dream is just beginning.

Having spent considerable time in the U.S. youth set up at the Under-17 and Under-20 levels, the 17-year-old may play a role for the Americans as they look to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Qualification for that tournament is not for another four years—when McBean will be 21— but the young forward is already thinking about helping the U.S. qualify for the Olympics.

“I know that [players born in 1994; like McBean] are the next oldest cycle for the Olympics and to be on that team would be a big honor,” McBean said Saturday. “It is motivation to feel that atmosphere and see the stadium filled with fans. It’d be really cool to play in.”

Although Mexico is providing a stiff test for the Americans and the rest of CONCACAF, the young McBean is optimistic that the U.S. can catch up to their archrivals.

“[Mexico] is just getting better and better. They’re doing all the things right. And obviously, they won the U-17s and finished third in the U-20s so they’ve been at the top of all the recent youth tournaments,” admitted McBean. “But we’re not far off so we just have to keep working hard and we’ll be up there…It is slowly getting better, but it’s definitely coming up.” 

11 August 1:09 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- For all the talk surrounding the LA Galaxy back four in the lead up to Sunday's SuperClásico, Mike Magee believes that the the game will be determined in the center of the park. 

Magee is likely to play an important role for the Galaxy attack on Sunday as he is expected to step into David Beckham's space in the midfield. With Beckham fulfilling his Olympic obligations on Sunday, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is expected to look to utilize Magee's speed on the flanks to help LA against Chivas USA's tenacious midfielders. Magee is well-aware that this will be no easy task as Chivas' high intensity midfield will be bolstered by the acquisition of midfielder Shalrie Joseph and the return of Oswaldo Minda from a shoulder injury. 

"It's hard, they obviously like to load the middle of the field and they had a great midfield before and now getting Shalrie and Minda back from injury is obviously huge for them. We need to be extremely disciplined and match their intensity."

(On controlling the midfield...)

MAGEE: "That's huge in all our games, the times that we have the most success is when we have control of the midfield and are passing the ball well while keeping possession, especially in the final third. This game is obviously magnified a bit more because of how good their midfield is so we definitely need to do well."

(On the playoff chase...)

MAGEE: "It's a lot closer than people think, four games in hand is a lot and this is a massive game always and if you look at the standings, they're confident as well so this game could shake things up for the playoffs."