It’s that time again when we make our resolutions for the New Year in hopes of making our lives just a little bit better.
To properly ring in what promises to be an eventful 2014, I decided to make a list of LA Galaxy New Year’s Resolutions. Now this list ranges from my own thoughts about what the team needs to a few other ideas on how to improve the team and MLS in the New Year.
* Build toward the future: continue to offer playing time to younger players like Jack McBean, Rafael Garcia and Greg Cochrane. One of the team’s greatest successes of 2013 was that head coach Bruce Arena afforded plenty of valuable game time to players like the three aforementioned youth. With international commitments and injuries likely to cause problems yet again, the Galaxy boss should continue his policy of giving time to emerging young talent.
*Deal with change: There will be some notable absences from the LA Galaxy roster in 2013, but none will be bigger than the departures of longtime right-sided player Sean Franklin—who was selected in Stage One of the MLS Re-Entry Process by D.C. United—and Jose Villarreal who was sent on a year-long loan with Cruz Azul. Both players were frequent contributors a year ago and will need to be replaced in the coming weeks.
*Allow Juninho to receive more responsibility in the attack especially on free kick situations. The Brazilian midfielder saw his offensive impact stunted in 2013, but he’ll be expected to carry more of the load next season especially on set piece opportunities.
*That being said, LA must show more resilience on defending set pieces and second ball opportunities to prevent the deficiencies that caused the club to fail last season. We've gone over this one many, many times.
*Find a new center forward to play alongside Robbie Keane to add a natural target striker to the Galaxy attack. During the club’s final media availability of 2013, Arena stated that finding this type of player was priority number one for LA ahead of the next campaign and with the transfer window open; the Galaxy will have the chance to get their man. With a target presence alongside Keane, Landon Donovan could transition back to the right midfield and offer greater width to the midfield.
*Build off what was learned in 2013: Continued production from Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo. LA’s two breakout stars in 2013 were Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo who became regular members of the Galaxy starting XI by season’s end, but production must continue to progress into 2014. For Sarvas, he’ll likely need cede some of his offensive responsibilities to his midfield partner Juninho and contain his physical exuberance that caused him to lead MLS in fouls committed last year. Meanwhile, Penedo must continue to progress as a goalkeeper and cut down on mistakes that led to goals down the stretch.
*More professional growth from Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers. The two attackers experienced inconsistent seasons in 2013, but the New Year brings greater expectations for both to provide reliable contributions for LA. If the pair can develop into offensive weapons, LA may have an added attacking dimension—particularly on the flanks— that was sorely lacking last season.
*Be more successful: Make a strong run in the U.S. Open Cup. The LA Galaxy have gone out in the third round in the U.S. Open Cup to the Carolina RailHawks each of the last two years, but with no CONCACAF Champions League waiting for them in the fall, a long run in the Open Cup should be beneficial for the team to provide minutes to their entire roster. Also, winning the USOC will help place the team back into the CCL for the 2015-16 tournament.
*Continue see the LA Galaxy Academy grow and produce players who could become valuable members of the first team in the future. LA Academy forawrd Haji Wright garnered a lot of the headlines toward the end of the year, but LA’s academy teams are continuing to show promise in the form of players like Adonis Amaya, Jaime Villarreal and many others.
*Good health to Robbie Keane who is recovering from surgery on both of his Achilles as he looks to get ready for the preseason. The Galaxy are hoping to have their captain back to full health by the start of preseason, but what is most important is having him fit and ready for the start of the season and the all-important CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal against Club Tijuana in March.
*Travel More: Get off to a strong start against Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal and keep dreams of the FIFA Club World Cup alive. The LA Galaxy’s quest for continental glory begins in March as they host the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals against Club Tijuana. With a victory at home, the Galaxy will be in strong standing as they look to advance past Xolos and reach the CCL semifinals for a second consecutive year in front of a hostile crowd at Estadio Calliente.
*Prosperity for Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan as they look to make their World Cup dream come true. Both Galaxy Designated Players appear to be strong candidates to make U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but both will need to stay healthy and in form to ensure a place on the plane to Brazil. If they’re able to reach Brazil, the pair is likely to be in Klinsmann’s starting XI and can expect to be major contributors as the U.S. hopes to advance from Group G over the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Here’s hoping for more moments like this one from four years ago.
*New ventures for the coming year: New MLS Television deals. Southern California is spoiled with the great Galaxy coverage on the Time Warner SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, but in 2014, MLS will look to negotiate their new national television deals which will play a major role in the league’s growth going forward. More financial resources from national television partners can only help grow the league which hopes to be among the world’s best during the next decade.
*Continue to foster a connection with the readers of this blog and all content on LAGalaxy.com. What truly makes my job worthwhile is interacting with all of those that enjoy my work on the LA Galaxy Insider Blog and LAGalaxy.com, and in 2014, I hope to have greater interaction with you the readers so that we can place the type of content that you’re looking for on this space.
Happy New Year.
CARSON, Calif. – Club Tijuana received a little tune-up for their upcoming Liga MX campaign and their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against the LA Galaxy in March with a 3-3 draw against Club America at StubHub Center on Saturday.
America jumped out to an early two goal lead in the opening half an hour with goals by Luis Rey in the seventh minute and Raul Jimenez in the 30th minute, each exposing lax defending on Tijuana’s part. In the 52nd minute, Jimenez completed his brace by finishing off a penalty kick.
Tijuana earned their own penalty just five minutes later as Cristian Pellerano finished from the spot to spark a Xolos rally. Xolos cut America’s lead to just one in the 62nd off yet another finish by Pellerano in an impressive build-up sequence that was sparked by ex-LA Galaxy Academy attacker Paul Arriola. In the 82nd minute, another former Galaxy member Herculez Gomez fired a low cross through the penalty area to a waiting Juan Hernandez who tapped in the equalizer.
“It was pretty interesting [experience to play at StubHub Center], there was a lot of nerves and excitement,” Arriola told LAGalaxy.com. “This time though, it wasn’t to play the Galaxy. It was just a friendly. I’m waiting for March.”
Xolos open the Clausura tournament on Jan. 4 against Atlas in Guadalajara before returning back home to Estadio Caliente to host America in the home opener on Jan. 10.
Images of the match are on the StubHub Center Facebook page:
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) December 29, 2013
Robbie Keane enjoyed an impressive year as he finished as one of the league's MVP finalists with 16 goals and 11 assist and our friends at KICKTV compiled this impressive set of highlights of Keane's goals and assists from 2013.
View Keane's goals below.
The LA Galaxy announced their first match of their 2014 preseason schedule on Monday as they will face Armenian champions FC Shirak at StubHub Center on Feb. 8 at 6 pm.
Shirak are currently in second place in the Armenian Premier League and are led by Ivorian midfielder Serge Debl who is currently tied for the APL lead in goals with nine tallies. The club from Gyumri, Armenia -- the second largest city in the Eurasian country -- have won the APL three times, the Armenian Cup once and the Armenian SuperCup four times. The preseason match is the first time that the Galaxy will host a club from the Armenian Premier League.
LA are expected to open the preseason in mid-to-late January and the match is undoubtedly the first in preseason slate that will be designed to prepare the Galaxy for the start of the 2014 MLS regular season and their 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match against Club Tijuana.
Tickets for the match will go on sale on Jan. 14 at lagalaxy.com or by calling 1-877-3GALAXY.
In what might be my favorite holiday video this year, Juninho offers his own special Happy Holidays message after firing a free kick in front of a wall made of Christmas trees.
Check it out below.
Villarreal was presented alongside fellow MLS players Rafael Baca and Michael Farfan on Saturday ahead of the move to the Mexico City club.
“Sending Jose Villarreal to Cruz Azul provides one of our Homegrown players an opportunity to gain additional experience,” said Galaxy Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena in a statement. “We’ll monitor Jose’s play with Cruz Azul and wish him well while in Mexico.”
On Saturday, LA Galaxy Insider reported that the deal is a year-long loan with an option to buy. Any loan fee that the Galaxy receive could net the club significant funs that should be able to improve a squad that has dealt with salary cap issues this offseason.
During the presentation of their new winter signings, Cruz Azul sporting director Agustín Manzo admitted that Mexican club’s idea to add Baca, Farfan and Villarreal came, at least, partially through his “very good friendship” with Galaxy assistant Curt Onalfo who had told him “many times about the players.”
The Cruz Azul brass may be high on Villarreal, but with La Maquina boasting talented attackers like Marco Fabian, Joao Rojas and Christian Gimenez, Villarreal will have his work cut out for him when it comes to breaking into the first team. If the Galaxy Homegrown forward is unable to crack the first team, then he’ll likely be given significant minutes with the club’s reserve side.
“It’s not going to be easy here, I’ll have to win a place,” said Villarreal after the presentation in Mexico. “With a lot of effort on the field, it can happen.”
The three goals selected were Omar Gonzalez's classy finish that helped the LA Galaxy defeat Juventus in the Guinness International Champions Cup on Aug. 3 at Dodger Stadium, Robbie Keane's brilliant chip of Nick Rimando in LA's victory over Real Salt Lake later in the month, and Sean Franklin's goal against RSL in the Western Conference Semifinal first leg at StubHub Center on Nov. 3.
Check it out below.
Jose Villarreal is joining Cruz Azul.
The 20-year-old striker was presented alongside new Cruz Azul signings for the upcoming Clausura tournament Rafael Baca, Xavi Baez, Marco Fabian, Michael Farfan, and Fausto Pinto on Saturday afternoon in Mexico. On Friday, the LA Galaxy declined comment on the reports of Villarreal's move to Mexico, but the club is expected to make an announcement early next week.
Although there are no official details on the move, it is my understanding that the deal is expected to be a year-long loan for Villarreal with an option for the Mexican side to purchase the forward. This could be a major boost for the Galaxy as Villarreal is likely to attract a hefty fee if he is successful in Mexico which would be used to further strengthen an LA side that fell in the Western Conference Semifinal round in 2013.
Presentación de los nuevos integrantes del equipo. José Villareal pic.twitter.com/lGBTdcHeFq
— CRUZ AZUL FC™ (@Cruz_Azul_FC) December 21, 2013
Presentación de los nuevos integrantes del equipo. pic.twitter.com/M7djGjqTcs
— CRUZ AZUL FC™ (@Cruz_Azul_FC) December 21, 2013
Is Jose Villarreal heading off to Mexico?
On Friday, Mexican club Cruz Azul issued a report on their club’s official website stating that Villarreal had joined the club for the upcoming Clausura tournament. That was followed by a report from ESPNFC also stating that Villarreal, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Rafael Baca and Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Farfan were off to Cruz azul and were currently in Mexico City to undergo medical exams. It is worth mentioning that Villarreal has Mexican citizenship through his parents and would not count as an international if he were to join the Mexico City club.
When reached, the LA Galaxy declined comment on the report.
Landon Donovan is widely considered one of the most accomplished players in U.S. Soccer history and it was no surprise on Friday when he was named to the federation's all-time Best XI.
Donovan was the leading vote-getter with a total of 52 votes in a list that included such luminaries like Carlos Bocanegra, Eddie Pope, Clint Dempsey and Eric Wynalda.
The LA Galaxy forward has a total of 144 appearances for the U.S. and holds the all-time leads for goals (46) and assists (47). Due to his success with the U.S., Donovan has made a total of three FIFA World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2010, and is expected to make his make fourth tournament next year when the U.S. head to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Donovan has 12 World Cup appearances with five goals.
The 31-year-old also had a storied career with the U.S. youth national teams as he was awarded the Golden Ball award when he helped the U.S. Under-17's to a fourth place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand while also appearing in the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina with the U.S. Under-20's.
The complete list is below:
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) December 20, 2013