The United States face a stiff test in the World Cup round of 16 match against Belgium, but LA Galaxy striker Landon Donovan believes that they're up for the task.
Speaking to reporters after the Galaxy's 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium, Donovan spoke about the USMNT's chances ahead of Tuesday's match in Salvador.
"I think that it's going to be a good game and a difficult game," Donovan told reporters. "Belgium are a little inexperienced at this level, but a good team. If Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany can't play then it'll help us greatly. Let's hope that they win."
Donovan's supportive comments came just a day before an interview with Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke was released where he admitted that after being left off the World Cup roster, he rooted internally against the USMNT.
"I'll be completely honest, watching them play Azerbaijan, inside, part of me was thinking, I hope the game doesn't go very well today. In my heart of hearts, I thought, if we get a 1-0 win and the team doesn't perform well, that would feel good," Donovan told the L.A. Times. "Then the next day I woke up and said to myself, that's a really crappy way to feel. That's a bad way to live your life, it doesn't help me, it doesn't help the team, it doesn't help the energy that the team needs."
Will the U.S. get past Belgium? Thoughts on Donovan's comments?
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STANFORD, Calif. -- Tommy Meyer's fledging career has been one of peaks and valleys, but on Saturday night, the young center back enjoyed one of his finest games in an LA Galaxy uniform.
Teamed up alongside Kofi Opare, the Galaxy were able to shut down a cagey San Jose Earthquakes attack in LA's 1-0 victory. Throughout the match, Meyer’s positioning was steady as he managed 16 clearances compared to 14 for his partner in central defense. While San Jose’s feisty forward Steven Lenhart caused some problems for the pair throughout the match, Meyer and the LA defense prevented the danger.
“We talked before the game about having each other’s back. With Lenhart, he flicks the ball on and gets in dangerous positions, so we had to make sure he was marked up. Even going forward, we were able to keep the ball, which kept a lot of pressure off of us in the back.”
Arena gave Meyer his highest praise after the victory stating that the third year center back enjoyed the "best game of his career."
With Omar Gonzalez still away on international duty with the U.S. National Team, Meyer is likely to see more action on Friday when the Galaxy take on the Portland Timbers. Ahead of the Timbers match, the normally reserved Meyer admits that his confidence is high at the moment.
"I've been getting better each match," said Meyer. "We wanted to finally get a shut out and we did that. Now we have to build upon it."
STANFORD, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena addressed the media after his team's 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
(On the team finally rewarding their good performances with goals...)
ARENA: "We did that tonight. It wasn't an easy game. Obviously, it was a great atmosphere for the Earthquakes and for the league. Our guys did well, our young center backs did well defensively, and I think that overall, this was our best effort defensively as a team. This is a game that we deserved to win and we've been certainly pushing our group to perform like this. Great win."
(On the team's ability to bounce back from the Carolina RailHawks loss...)
ARENA: "The game in Carolina, I'm not sure it was a soccer game, whatever the heck that was. We have to accept the responsbility for the result."
(On Tommy Meyer and Kofi Opare...)
ARENA: "They have enough experience and they're primed to play...Tommy was outstanding, the best game of his career."
(On the midfield play...)
ARENA: "Good balance. I thought that Landon did a good job and I think the whole group. This is a night that we've been waiting for where you look around and call it a complete team effort. That's what I'm most pleased about.... We're going to have a tough game on Friday and hopefully, we'll be able to get the guys ready. It's been a tough couple of weeks with all the travel involved. Hopefully, we get them ready for next Friday."
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy will return to a stadium that has been a house of horrors for them in recent years on Saturday when they take on the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium.
At Stanford, the Galaxy have slumped to a 0-2-0 record despite playing the Earthquakes to a pair of highly-entertaining results that saw San Jose win 4-3 in 2012 and 3-2 in 2013. In both instances, the Galaxy earned a two goal lead only to surrender it late and see the crowd at The Farm erupt into bedlam as the Earthquakes emerged victorious.
“It’s a hostile environment where the fans are right on top of you. The field is small and when you have 40,000 fans rooting for the other team, it’s always difficult,” DeLaGarza said of the matches at Stanford. “Those are the games that you get up for though and those are the crowds that you want to play in front of than other stadiums in this league. It’s exciting and always fun when you get to play at such a unique situation.”
With the Galaxy coming off a disappointing 1-0 Extra Time defeat to the Carolina RailHawks that saw them bounced from the U.S. Open Cup, DeLaGarza believes that the time is now for LA to get a victory down on the Farm.
“We’ve been up several times and they’ve come back and beat us,” said DeLaGarza. “We need to be strong and really dig deep.”
The LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes renew their hostilities on Saturday at Stanford Stadium as the MLS returns to full swing.
In the latest edition of LAGalaxy.com's By the Numbers, we look at the team's match against San Jose.
Check it out below.
Count Robbie Keane among those LA Galaxy players who have work to do in order to return to full fitness ahead of the return to MLS competition.
In addition to fellow Designated Player Landon Donovan, Keane is among the Galaxy’s walking wounded heading into their game against the San Jose Earthquakes.
“I think that I did okay playing 120 minutes [against Carolina] just four days after getting back from [Ireland],” said Keane after LA's extra time U.S. Open Cup loss to the Carolina RailHawks earlier this week. “It’s not ideal to play 120 minutes, but it is what it is, but you deal with what happens and you get on with it.
Following training on Thursday, LA head coach Bruce Arena asserted that Keane—and Donovan—are dealing with knocks ahead of the California Clasico match.
"They've been behind our group for a long time, in terms of that," Arena said. "They've got a little catching up to do."
Omar Gonzalez shined as the United States advanced to the round of 16 with a 1-0 defeat to Germany and now the defender is hoping to leave an even greater imprint on the team’s tournament hopes.
Against Germany, Gonzalez enjoyed one of his strongest performances with the U.S. as his positioning and aerial ability helped silence the agile German attack for wide stretches of the game. While Gonzalez was leading the U.S. to qualification, his family was in a far different locale, stranded due to the rain watching his performance on a small phone.
“[Omar’s wife Erica] told me that [his family] were all huddled around some phones streaming the game,” Gonzalez told reporters in Recife. “And so it was a pretty cool experience for them even they though weren’t here. They were all watching and biting their nails in front of this little phone.”
The true measure of Gonzalez’s impact will be measured on Tuesday when Gonzalez may return to the U.S. lineup in the Round of 16 match against Belgium.
Whether or not he gets the start against the Red Devils, however, Gonzalez is pleased with his first showing on the world’s biggest stage.
“My first 90 minutes in a World Cup, there was a lot of emotions there, there were a lot of things going through my head,” said Gonzalez. “But I just wanted to take it one play at a time and just move on from there and if I did mess up, focus on the next play. I was just focused on doing my job and helping this team.”
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Landon Donovan may not be in Brazil with the U.S. National Team, but he was among those excited about their advancement to the knockout round on Thursday.
Galaxy teammate Omar Gonzalez started and went 90 minutes as the U.S. lost 1-0 to Germany, but still reached the last 16 as Group G runners-up to the Germans. Following Galaxy practice, Donovan spoke to LAGalaxy.com about the teams performance on Thursday.
Watch it below.
The United States will play Belgium in the Round of 16.
For finishing second in Group G, they will get to face Belgium in Salvador on July 1st. The last time the U.S. took on Belgium, they fell 4-2 last May.
The United States has not reached the quarterfinals since the 2002 edition of the tournament. If the U.S. advance, they'll take on the winner of Argentina vs. Switzerland.
Thoughts on the draw?
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LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez will be starting for the U.S. National Team against Germany.
Gonzalez will be making his first start since he picked up a left knee injury in May during a Galaxy match against the Colorado Rapids.
The complete USA lineup is below.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 26, 2014