CARSON, Calif. -- An ankle injury has kept LA Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens on the shelf for the club's opening pair of preseason matches, but on Friday, Stephens is set to return to the field as LA take on Real Salt Lake.
Stephens returned to full training on Wednesday and appeared sharp in finishing drills as he practiced with the club's forward and midfield players. In Stephens' absence, second-year midfielder Rafael Garcia has performed well alongside Marcelo Sarvas with LA's starting XI, but after watching his teammates at the start of the preseason, he is ready to return to the field.
"I missed the last two games with my ankle injury and [Wednesday] was my first day back so I'm excited about it," said Stephens."I got in a tackle with [Rafael Garcia] and he stepped on the inside [of his ankle], I had MRIs and everything, but it was nothing so I'll back...obviously, you always want to play, but it's better to miss some time now then having [the injury] happen again in three weeks."
The match will be Stephens' first since the 2012 postseason, but the 23-year-old midfielder isn't going to let his excitement get the best of him.
"It'll be fun to finally playing in another game so I'm definitely a little bit anxious," said Stephens. "But it's a long process and it'll be a long preseason."
CARSON, Calif. -- Charlie Rugg was selected with the LA Galaxy's 19th overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, but nagging groin injury has prevented the 22-year-old forward from seeing much time since preseason began several weeks ago.
However, as LA's third week of preseason winds down, the forward is nearing the practice field and is expected to return to full training by the end of the week.
College Signing Day is a national holiday among those that follow college football. While college soccer’s own signing day does not get the same level of exposure and scrutiny, it is an important deal as well.
Seven LA Galaxy Academy products signed their letter of intent to schools across the country on Friday as they look set to begin the next stage of their soccer development.
Leading the way is Galaxy Academy starlet Paul Arriola, who is currently training with the club’s first team throughout the preseason. Arriola has committed to national powerhouse UCLA for the fall semester. Joining Arriola at UCLA are two other Academy players; defender Nathan Smith and midfielder Willie Raygoza. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Josh McNeely and midfielder Drew Murphy are heading to Isla Vista to attend UC Santa Barbara while highly touted forward prospect Justin Dhillon is heading to Cal Poly.
Rounding out the group is defender Vincent Reyes, who is off to Florida International University in Miami, where he will be coached by Bruce Arena’s son Kenny, a former Galaxy U-16 head coach.
CARSON, Calif. – Fitness concerns with midfielders Juninho and Michael Stephens have forced Rafael Garcia into a starting midfield role at the start of the preseason and the second-year midfielder has wasted no time impressing..
In LA’s victories over the U.S. Under-17 national team and Los Angeles Blues, Garcia has been extremely influential in two first half appearances. As he looks to build upon a rookie season that saw him make a total of five appearances in all competitions, Garcia admits that he is taking whatever chances that he gets in stride.
“It’s been going good. I’m happy to jump in and help out. I’m just working hard and trying to do my thing,” said Garcia. “The team has been helping me out…with pointers here and there, talking from the back line and a few little things, but it’s been coming along well and I’m happy to get the minutes.”
During LA’s opening preseason matches, the second-year midfielder has been partnered alongside midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, who has provided an offensive presence that balances Garcia’s grit and energy.
“We work well together, he obviously brings the experience and I bring the energy so it works well,” said Garcia. “He brings experience so [I learn] when to go on certain runs, when to hold the ball, when to play long.”
But what has Garcia gained in these first two preseason matches? “Mostly fitness,” he admits, but also plenty of “confidence and motivation.”
“Anytime that you get to start a game whether it’s a practice game or a real competition, it’s always an honor,” said Garcia. “For me, I just look at it as I have to keep working hard and when my number gets called, I just have to learn from these opportunities.”
LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez started and went 90 minutes in the U.S. national team's 2-1 defeat to Honduras in a World Cup Qualifier
Gonzalez started alongside former Houston Dynamo defender and current Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron in the middle for the U.S. national team. Clint Dempsey put the U.S. ahead in the 35th minute off a beautiful through-ball from Jermaine Jones.
However, Honduras tallied two unanswered goals with the first coming in 39th minute on Juan Carlos Garcia's incredible bicycle kick goal that blew past goalkeeper Tim Howard. Honduras went ahead for good in the 78th minute when the Central Americans capitalized on a defensive lapse by the U.S. with Jerry Bengston giving Honduras the victory.Gonzalez had a stoppage time header, but fired his chance over the bar.
Complete highlights of the game are below...
How do you feel Gonzalez performed? Do you expect him to start when the U.S. continue the Hexagonal against Costa Rica on March 22 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park?
Share your thoughts below.
Omar Gonzalez is facing an important test on Wednesday as he slots into the starting lineup for the U.S. national team for their World Cup Qualifier against Honduras in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
The U.S. national team lineup for the Qualifier is as follows:
Howard; Chandler, Gonzalez, Cameron, F. Johnson; Williams, Bradley, Jones; E. Johnson, Dempsey; Altidore.
What are your thoughts about Gonzalez starting? Do you think that he can perform well?
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The LA Galaxy held Media Day on Monday with plenty of action and cool inside looks...I've compiled all of the pieces into one location...
*LAGalaxy.com released a Storify stream of all the photos that were tweeted from the club's official Twitter account.
*Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable Deportes provided of photos of their own including a large photo gallery.
Lastly, LAGalaxy.com followed Jose Villarreal and Bryan Gaul through the activities in the video below...
LAGalaxy.com's videographer Paolo Ferrari has provided a highlight video of Tuesday's 3-0 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Blues.
Check out the highlights below...
CARSON, Calif. – A.J. DeLaGarza may not have been called up for the U.S. national team’s World Cup Qualifier against Honduras, but the LA Galaxy centerback is making the most of his opportunities at the club level.
DeLaGarza started Tuesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the USL Pro’s Los Angeles Blues and went a total of 60 minutes in the win. During the match, DeLaGarza provided a vocal presence in the back alongside Tommy Meyer in the first and Leonardo in the second as he organized a Galaxy back four that overpowered the third division side’s offense.
After the club's well-documented disappointing start to the season in 2012, DeLaGarza admits that there is “a lot of improvement from last year already” in just two preseason matches.
But how does the defender feel about his own level since returning from International duty?
“I feel good,” DeLaGarza told reporters on Tuesday. “My confidence was high in camp and I thought I did pretty well. To not get called in, [for the Honduras World Cup Qualifier] obviously, my confidence was a little down, but now I’m back here and I’m making the most of my opportunity. I’m trying to get back in where I was fitness wise like everyone else.”
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy picked up their second victory of the preseason on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over USLPRO side Los Angeles Blues.
The scoring began in the 4th minute when a cross by Rafael Garcia set up an own goal by Blues midfielder Gabbi Gonzalez. Robbie Keane slotted a turnover in the box in the 15th minute before Jose Villarreal ended the scoring in the 76th minute while LA was down a man after Leonardo went down with cramp.
A few notes from the match...
The Galaxy started the match in the following formation:
*There were only two changes from last week's game against the U.S. Under-17's as Mike Magee moved into midfield for Gyasi Zardes while A.J. DeLaGarza started for Omar Gonzalez, who is away with the U.S. national team.
*Clark put together another strong performance on the left side as he showed an ability to link up with the likes of Keane and Zardes.
*The Galaxy first team held almost complete command of the match in the second half with the Blues only making a couple of forays out of their own half.
The Galaxy ran out the following lineup in the second half:
Sorto---DeLaGarza (Opare ’60)---Leonardo (Inj in 72)----Gaul
*Paul Arriola put together another solid performance creating a couple of scoring chances, but was unable to find the back of the net. Arriola celebrated his 18th birthday on Tuesday.
*After starting goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini faced almost no action in the first half, Brian Perk made three saves as the Blues tried in vain to get on the board.
*The game was the first appearance for the Galaxy's second round draft pick Kofi Opare.
*Another strong game for Greg Cochrane, who was energetic down the left side. .
*LA played down a man for the last 18 minutes of the game after Leonardo suffered what Bruce Arena described as a cramp.
*There were two yellow cards in the match with Colin Clark picking up one in the 41st minute while Villarreal picked up one of his own in the 82nd.
*Following the match, Arena told reporters that first round pick Charlie Rugg is getting closer to returning to the field. Rugg himself told reporters that he's been dealing with a nagging groin injury.
*The Blues lineup for the match was as follows:
Carl Woszczynski; Matt Hall (Darryl Robson, 46; Dallas Moore, 71), Cory Miller (Adrian Dubois, 46), Erlys Garcia (Dutch Jock, 46), Jermano LoFuSang (Connor *Name not found*, 46); Jimmy Turner, 83); Gabriel Gonzalez (David Bakal, 46); Artur Aghasyan (Juan “Kichi” Perez, 46; Matthew Xiano, 71), Allan Russell (Georges Ba, 46), George Davis IV (Nelson Pizarro, 46), Deon McCauley (Sergio Del Valle, 24); Chris Cortez (Duran Davis, 33).