CARSON, Calif. –At just 19, Jose Villarreal has experienced plenty in his whirlwind first year as a professional including the deafening roar of a Mexican crowd rooting against an American opponent.
Earlier this year, Villarreal was a key member of the U.S. Under-20 side that took Mexico to extra time in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico. He’ll experience a similar situation on Wednesday as the Galaxy look to overturn a 2-1 aggregate deficit in their CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal tie against C.F. Monterrey at the vaunted Estadio Tecnológico.
The circumstances may be a tad different, but Villarreal believes that he can draw on the past experience when he takes the field in Monterrey.
“The experience is going to be the same, playing against a Mexican team full of Mexicans and the atmosphere with the crowd screaming. It might help me, it might not, but we’ll just see,” said Villarreal. “It’s going to be a tough game for us going down a goal being in Monterrey, but we just have to be focused and approach It with the right mentality.”
As for the game plan, an early goal seems to be a requirement for LA’s hopes, but Villarreal believes that LA can manage no matter how the game plays out.
“Maybe if we score an early goal, they pick it up and it’s an intense game after that or maybe we can close them for the first 45 minutes and it’d be better for us, but we’re just going down there with the mentality to win the game,” said Villarreal.
Using a reserve-laden squad, C.F. Monterrey fell 1-0 to Deportivo Toluca in Los Rayados' final match before Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal second leg against the LA Galaxy.
Juan Carlos Cacho would score the lone goal in the 70th minute to snap Monterrey's six game unbeaten streak across all competitions. Just four starters (Juan de Dios Ibarra, Hiram Mier, Richard Osorio, and Severo Meza) from last Wednesday's CCL first leg remained in the starting lineup against Toluca. However, first leg starters Humberto Suazo, Jesus Zavala, and Aldo de Nigris each entered the match as substitutes.
With the defeat, Monterrey fell to 12th spot in Torneo Clausura 2013 table. The top eight spots qualify for the Liguilla (postseason).
Highlights of the match are below...
CARSON, Calif. -- Barring any unforseen setbacks, Juninho has the green light to appear in Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal second leg match against C.F. Monterrey down in Mexico.
The Brazilian midfielder returned to the practice field on Sunday and following the session, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena gave Juninho a clean bill of health.
"Juninho is fine. He'll be ready to play," said Arena.
I spoke to the Galaxy's Brazilian midfielder on his injury and his status for Wednesday's game against Monterrey below.
Pleased to have the Brazilian back for Wednesday? Think he can help the Galaxy turn around the deficit?
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CARSON, Calif. – The NCAA College Basketball tournament is one of the most eventful times in all of American Sports and the LA Galaxy locker room is not immune to the excitement.
On Saturday, Louisville, Wichita State, Michigan, and Syracuse will face off in the Final Four or the honor to play in Monday’s National Championship game.
LA have two players on their roster from Louisville as second year midfielder Kenney Walker and rookie Greg Cochrane were each standouts for the Cardinals while rookie defender Kofi Opare was a frequent starter for the Michigan Wolverines for four years.
“Both of our [basketball] teams are in the final four, the men’s and the women’s team so that’s pretty cool,” said Cochrane. “Obviously, Kenney and I are pulling for Louisville and I try to get on Kofi because it could be a Louisville vs. Michigan final, I know we’re going to win.”
“It’s exciting,” said Walker. “I feel like this year, the team is buying into what [head coach Rick] Pitino is doing. He has them working as a team and a unit and they’re all buying in to it.”
The defender from Michigan finds himself a tad more alone as only Galaxy Assistant Athletic Trainer Kurt Andrews; a native of Rochester, Mich. is supporting the Wolverines. However, Opare, who counts Wolverines standouts Tim Hardaway Jr. and Eso Akunne among his friends and contacted them during their tournament-run through Facebook.
“It’s really amazing. I’m just so proud of Michigan basketball representing the university in a positive light. We have players stepping up not only [point guard] Trey Burke, who I believe is the best player in the country, but we have other players stepping up and those coming off the bench as well are bringing great energy and everyone is feeding off it.”
March Madness isn’t limited to the players with rooting interests as the team runs a bracket pool that all of the players participate in.
“There’s a whole pool and it gets pretty intense and a lot of people participate. Obviously, a lot of people were telling me not to pick Louisville because I was only going to throw away my money,” said Cochrane, who counts midfielders Michael Stephens and Colin Clark as a pair who told him he was throwing his money away. “I had to stay true to my roots and I knew that this was going to be our year with the Cards as national champs. Unfortunately, I can’t win the bracket, I’m going to come up short, but as long as the Cards win, then I’ll win.”
Opare is actually near the top of the bracket and is fighting with defender A.J. DeLaGarza for the top spot in the Galaxy’s bracket pool.
“My bracket is looking great. A.J. is in first place, but he has Syracuse winning the whole thing and I have Michigan so [Saturday] could turn out a great day for me and Michigan,” said Opare. “This is the first time that I’ve a bracket so being this close to winning definitely keeps me going.”
Who are you going to support: Cochrane and Walker or Opare?
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U.S. Soccer head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, former LA Galaxy and U.S. Internationals Cobi Jones and Alexi Lalas among others were in New York City's Time Square to celebrate U.S. Soccer's Centennial on Friday.
The U.S. Soccer Federation celebrated their 100th birthday on April 5.
Watch the video below.
What is your favorite U.S. Soccer memory?
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CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may be down 2-1 to Monterrey in their CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal series heading into the decisive second leg, but LA understands that they’ve been in this situation before.
LA went down 1-0 in the Western Conference Semifinal to the Supporters’ Shield winners, the San Jose Earthquakes during the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs. Needing a result at Buck Shaw Stadium, LA roared back and crushed San Jose 3-1 to clinch a berth in the Conference Final en route to a second straight MLS Cup title.
This time, the setting—Estadio Tecnológico is a tad more difficult than the rustic Buck Shaw Stadium —and the opponent will be different, but LA believes that can battle back. After all, they’ve done it before.
“We’ve already mentioned [the San Jose victory]. We’ve obviously been here before and last year we were here 20 times down in games, so we know what we need to do,” said Magee. “It’s going to be a little difficult going down to Monterrey, which is a hard place to get a result, but this is a game though where everybody will find out what our team is all about.”
Sean Franklin also sees the parallels and believes that if LA can tighten up on the missed opportunities and concentration lapses that plagued them in the first leg, a win is not out of the question.
“We were in this position last year; the only difference is that it’s going to be one more goal,” said Franklin. “We know that it’s going to be tough, but we think our team is excited with the task at hand. If we just sharpen up a few things and get a little bit smarter then there is a chance to go down there and win in Mexico.”
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena offered an update on the status of Brazilian midfielder Juninho ahead of next week's CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal second leg.
Juninho was forced to exit in the 61st minute of LA's 2-1 defeat to Monterrey on Wednesday. On Friday described Juninho as "healthy" despite dealing with a "neck" injury after "twisting his neck a little" in the Monterrey defeat.
"He's doing fine. We don't expect him to be out for any extended period of time," said Arena. "It's Friday, we don't have any decisions on Friday...It's Friday, we don't really care on Friday. We'll start caring more next week."
I spoke to LA Galaxy attacker Mike Magee on his Player of the Month award in this video for LAGalaxy.com.
Check out the video below...
CARSON, Calif. – Michael Stephens is ready to rebound after what he admits was not his best performance in the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal first leg on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old midfielder feels that he could have done better during his 29 minute shift, particularly with his marking of Cesar Delgado after the Monterrey midfielder fired the cross that led to Humberto Suazo’s goal which put Monterrey level with LA after 81 minutes.
“I was tracking [Delgado] out of midfield and the guy got me. That’s going to happen. He got me with a couple of cuts, but I definitely have to do better and shut down the cross,” Stephens said.
He may get a chance at immediate redemption as LA has yet to confirm whether Juninho will be able to play in Wednesday’s second leg. If called upon next week, either as a starter or off the bench, Stephens insists that he can perform.
“I’m ready to go. It was my first time playing in the middle in a while [on Wednesday]. I could have done a better job holding my position, but I’m ready to go,” said Stephens. “I’m not discouraged by it by any means and if my number is called then I’ll be ready to play.”
The job will be a difficult one for the Galaxy as a 1-0 LA win, any loss and any draw will see them out of the tournament. However, the plucky midfielder believes it is not an insurmountable task.
“We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, it was unfortunate to give up those two goals, but it’s not finished yet,” said Stephens. “As long as we get two goals, that’s not something that’s out of reach by any means. If we get two goals down there [in Monterrey] then we’re in a decent position so it’s definitely not over.”
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LA Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini spoke to MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio on LA's 2-1 defeat to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal first leg, his transition to MLS from Europe and a number of other topics.
Cudicini also spoke to reporters following Wednesday night's CCL loss.
That video is below...