CARSON, Calif. – In 2011, the LA Galaxy entered the MLS Cup Playoffs on a high as Supporters’ Shield winners, who went undefeated at The Home Depot Center en route to an MLS Cup title. But this season, the Galaxy overcame a slow start to enter the playoffs in the Knockout Round, where they’ll face fifth-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and defender Todd Dunivant have been in this situation before and admits that there are some parallels. In 2005, LA snuck into the postseason as the Western Conference’s lowest seed and then embarked on a dream run to the Final, knocking off the Supporters’ Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids, and New England Revolution as LA captured their second MLS Cup title.
“We had a certain confidence about us and a certain inner-knowledge about our team,” said Dunivant. “If you look at our team, we had an awesome team, maybe under performed in the regular season, but made no mistakes in the playoffs.”
Although a shocking moment like Guillermo “El Pando” Ramirez’s goal in extra time of the MLS Cup final with the Galaxy’s cadre of superstars and renown role players, Dunivant believes that experience is analogous to LA’s current situation of, perhaps, underperforming in the regular season.
“Yeah I’d say that 3-8-2 is underperforming to start the year and we’ve righted the ship since then, so all that doesn’t matter,” Dunivant said. “We’ve done what we needed to do to get into the playoffs and now it’s time to make it count when it matters most.”
But according to Donovan, the difference is the amount of experience that LA’s current team have as opposed to the side that won the 2005 final.
“I guess the difference is that we have the experience of having done it and so that really helps. At the end of the day, if you play well it doesn’t matter, but if you play well, it doesn’t matter, but if you play well and get into certain situations then you can always draw back on, “okay this is what we need to do in certain situations, if we get down a goal, if we get down two goals, if we go up a goal, if we go up two goals.”
“We know how to manage it and we know how to win games when they’re knockout games when they’re knockout games, and your season is over if you lose,” Donovan added. “We know how to handle that and if we play the right way then that might be a huge advantage for us.”
The LA Galaxy issued their official injury report on Oct. 30, but unlike previous weeks there were no changes.
The complete report is below...
OUT: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain); DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); DF David Junior Lopes (L facial fracture); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (L ankle soreness); MF Landon Donovan (L knee bone bruise)
CARSON, Calif. -- After Vancouver Whitecaps FC earned an important scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 26 with his Scottish Designated Player duo of Barry Robson and Kenny Miller on the bench for most of the match, the Vancouver Sun speculated that 'Caps head coach Martin Rennie may leave the pair on the bench for the start of Thursday's Knockout Round game against the LA Galaxy.
Both players joined the Whitecaps in July and almost immediately immersed themselves in Rennie's starting XI with Robson playing 17 games with three goals and two assists, while Miller participated in 13 matches, notching two goals and one assists. But even though Miller and Robson are integral pieces in Vancouver's offense, the Galaxy are waiting for the Whitecaps to make the first move.
"We'll just have to wait and see, they obviously had a good performance on the road in their last game," said defender Todd Dunivant. "Those guys didn't start, but they obviously came in and contributed. I wouldn't be surprised either way."
While Dunivant admits that Rennie could decide either way, Associate head coach Dave Sarachan believes that LA will see the two Scottish DPs on the field at some point on Thursday.
"We'll see them, I'm not sure how it's going to play out whether they're starters from the beginning of the game or they're brought into the game," said Sarachan. "I would find it hard to believe that we don't see them in one capacity or the other."
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena discussed Thursday's Knockout Round match between the LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a league teleconference.
Below is a transcript of Arena's thoughts...
(On Vancouver struggling heading into the playoffs…)
ARENA: “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s a fresh tournament. We’ve had in recent history in our league, team that go under the radar, so to speak, and go on to win the cup. 2009 and 2010 are examples where I think Salt Lake and Colorado qualify for the tournament on the last day and then went on to win it. So whatever happened during the regular season for Vancouver or Los Angeles really doesn’t matter at this point.”
(On what he expects Vancouver to do with recently benched Designated Players Barry Robson and Kenny Miller...)
ARENA: “I really don’t know. There’s no point in me spending a whole lot of time and energy on it. They’re obviously going to be on the field at some point, whether they start or not is a decision for [Vancouver] Coach [Martin] Rennie to make. Our main focus is certainly getting our team prepared to play and not being too concerned with the lineup that Vancouver comes out with.”
(On Vancouver’s strongest points…)
ARENA: “I think there strong point is they’ve decided pretty much how they’re going to come out and play this game I guess from their preparation for the Salt Lake game. They’re focused on keeping it real tight in the back and picking their spots to go forward on the break, trying to get some restarts and trying to win a game that way. They got a dress rehearsal, as they say, during the Salt Lake game so I think that a strength for them.”
(On whether Vancouver have any weaknesses…)
ARENA: “Not anything that I think sticks out and I think at this point, as I’ve said, every team in the championship run is capable of winning.”
(On what Robbie Keane has meant to the Galaxy…)
ARENA: “Since he became a part of the Galaxy in the summer of 2011, he’s been a leader on the field and off and obviously his goal scoring speaks for itself. It’s really that simple, he’s a personality, he’s a quality attacking player and he makes our team different.”
(On whether he is surprised Keane made the transition to MLS so well, so quickly:
ARENA: “Robbie has a long history and I think everywhere he’s gone, for the most part, he’s been pretty good. He got through the transition a lot quicker than most players.”
(On Landon Donovan moving to midfield in the season finale…)
ARENA: “We haven’t made any decisions on how we’re going to pair our guys in the playoffs. There’s only one game, the last game, where you saw that. Landon’s been out for a while so we haven’t had that opportunity. We had the opportunity to play Edson with Robbie a little bit so we took advantage of that, but certainly as we attempt to move forward in this tournament there’s going to be plenty of times that we’ll see Landon and Robbie together and Edson and Robbie together.”
(On how they got through the slow start to the season…)
ARENA: “With every team, every year is different, with every game it’s different and through experience you kind of understand how to work through your good moments and your bad moments. We just simply dealt with it one day at a time, one game at a time and tried to find the right formula for our team, tried to get them as healthy as possible. We had a lot of unusual circumstances during the year: injuries, issues with player departures, whether it was David around the Olympics or even at times Landon was released for a friendly game outside a FIFA window. We figured out what worked best for us. We had one thing after another snowballing itself and it made it difficult to get a team in rhythm and really basically throughout the year we never had a full lineup in so all we did was plug away and week-to-week, game-to-game tried to find the right way to be successful with the group we had. And obviously Omar returned in July and made things better, and then recently we lost A.J., so it’s been one of those years. I don’t think there’s any simple answer to your question, we just tried to the best we could. We have a group with a good attitude. The last half of the season, our last 17 games we have 34 points, which is actually above our rate from last year when we had such a good year. It’s a lot to be said about the group and how they dealt with adversity and came back and had a good performance to position ourselves to be back in the hunt for the MLS Cup.”
(On whether the team is finally finding its rhythm from last season…)
ARENA: “We’re a lot closer. I think these things, you’re never quite sure. This is a whole different competition now than the last 34 games and it’ll test us in terms of the depth of our team, the fitness of our players. I think we’re coming close, but I think you’re going to see because of the structure of this tournament this year with so many games in a short period of time that teams are going to have to use more players than they would prefer probably. And maybe you won’t have the kind of rhythm you want to have. For ourselves there’s going to be one game after another, hopefully, over the next couple weeks so that’s a challenge. But even for the teams that enter the tournament over the weekend it’s a three game a week rhythm and a lot of stuff is going to happen from suspensions to fatigue to injuries so it’ll be a challenge for everyone. And it may not be as easy to get teams in rhythm as well.”
(On Tommy Meyer and how he has done since taking over for injured A.J. DeLaGarza…)
ARENA: “He’s doing very well. He started the year where it was a little difficult for him being a young player coming into the league and I think he, more than any player we’ve seen over the year has improved a lot. He’s absorbed a lot of information and he’s just done a great job for us over the last couple of months. We saw Tommy’s improvement and knew that if he had to be on the field on a regular basis for us, he’d be fine and I think he’s shown over the last month or so for us that he’s moving along well and he’s a good center back.”
(On developing partnership with Omar Gonzalez in central defense…)
ARENA: “I think every week those kind of relationships get better. They’ve certainly shown more confidence with each other.”
(On the first leg of the semifinal against San Jose being listed on the club’s website…)
ARENA: “I basically have no idea what you’re talking about. But I would think every team in this tournament has an understanding when the games are being played and if they’re selling tickets I guess you have to have a notice on when potentially the next games are.”
(On being called a heavy favorite…)
ARENA: “We’re preparing our team to play on Thursday and we’re confident that we can win the game, period. We respect Vancouver, but we’re going to step on the field and try to win whether it’s Vancouver or any other team in the tournament. That’s our attitude, to get on the field and secure the win.”
(On whether he feels that being the favorite puts more pressure on his team…)
ARENA: “I haven’t spoken to any of the odds makers for the game and don’t know any of that. All we’re doing is getting our team ready to play. We’ve been in the playoffs before and we understand the challenges that are associated with this and we’re using those experiences to hopefully prepare ourselves like we have over the last four years.”
It has been impossible to escape the images of the effect that Hurricane Sandy has had on the East Coast and on Tuesday, LA Galaxy forward Edson Buddle -- a New York native --was quick to send his prayers to those affected.
Two-thirds of Buddle's hometown of New Rochelle, New York experienced power loss, but aside from downed trees, the city was not affected as severely as other parts of the state. After speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Buddle was quick to send his well-wishes to those on the East Coast.
"My family is safe, I hope that everyone else is okay," said Buddle. "I know it was one of the worst storms that people have experienced and my hopes and prayers go out to everyone on the east coast."
CARSON, Calif. -- Robbie Keane was a threat throughout the LA Galaxy's 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday, but despite numerous chances to score, the Irishman wasn't able to find the back of the net. But perhaps a testement to his stellar season, Keane found a way to get on the scoresheet in another way, by dishing a pass to Mike Magee for the lone goal of the match.
Keane may not have scored a goal on Sunday, but following the match, he was awarded with the club's Most Valuable Player honor as well as the team's Golden Boot for his 16 goals and nine assists this season.
"It’s obviously nice to be recognized, in my first full season," said Keane. "You never take awards lightly, it’s a great achievement, it’s great to get them and it’s great to be recognized by people."
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was especially pleased about Keane earning the Most Valuable Player award, even though it came from the club's local media, a frequent object of his scorn.
"I think that it’s an honor that he really deserves. He’s clearly had an outstanding year for us and once he returned from the European Championships, he’s been as good as any player in this league. He’s been outstanding," said Arena with a smirk. "I hate to say this; I think that award was voted on by the sportswriters, which is amazing that you guys got that right. I agree completely, well done."
Romanian-Canadian referee Silviu Petrescu has been assigned to referee Thursday's Knockout Round match according to a release by the Professional Referee Organization.
Petrescu was assigned to two LA Galaxy matches this season, LA's 2-2 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 18 at BC Place, where he dished out four yellows, and LA's 2-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo on May 26, a match where he also issued four yellows. Apart from July's Galaxy and Whitecaps match, Petrescu was in charge of three other Vancouver matches, including the Whitecaps scoreless draw with the Seattle Sounders on Sept. 29, the Whitecaps 2-0 defeat to Seattle on Aug. 18, the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship on May 23 (where he issued two reds -- one to Whitecaps' Sebastien Le Toux) and Vancouver's 4-1 loss to New England Revolution on May 12,
Petrescu's complete crew is below...
REFEREE: SILVIU PETRESCU
ASST 1: Daniel Belleau
ASST 2: Darren Clark
4TH: Ricardo Salazar
CARSON, Calif. -- Attendance caps at The Home Depot Center had become an unfortunate occurrence during midweek games over the past year, but Thursday's Knockout Round game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC is a different case.
Last week, the Galaxy and Cal State Dominguez Hills reached an agreement for the team to sell the all of 20,000 tickets in The HDC' s lower bowl. If that allotment is sold, the club's might then begin to sell seats in the stadium's upper deck and grass berm area. In the past, midweek attendance has been capped due to an agreement that The Home Depot Center's location on the campus of Cal-State Dominguez Hills that prevents more than 7,500 tickets from being sold for games that fall on school nights.
The agreement was met with joy among many fans and media as well as Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, who was quick to laud the deal.
"The 7,500 [attendance cap] doesn’t work, it doesn’t produce the type of atmosphere that we think that we need to have," said Arena in his post game press conference following Sunday's 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders. " I don’t think we’ve lost any games where we’ve played in the 7,500 capacity [LA are 2-0-1 since 2011 with capped attendance], but I think it’s important that we get good support on Thursday and it’ll help with the team."
From LAGalaxy.com, a video reaction of Sunday's 1-0 LA Galaxy victory over Seattle Sounders FC.
AEG Sports and LA Galaxy Chief Operating Officer Chris McGowan is departing from AEG to become the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Basketball Association's Portland Trailblazers, the NBA club announced on Monday.
A longtime executive with the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings, McGowan joined the Galaxy earlier in the year during a reshuffling of the club's front office. After the announcement, McGowan issued the following statement addressing his departure from AEG.
“Upon my departure, I'd like to thank Phil Anschutz and Tim Leiweke for allowing me to be part of AEG for the past 17 years," said McGowan. "The experience that I have gained will be invaluable as I transition to the next phase of my career. AEG is a first class organization and I wish everyone associated with the company nothing but success in the future. I am excited to be joining Paul Allen and his management team, in particular Bert Kolde, Peter McLoughlin and Neil Olshey.”
AEG's President and CEO Tim Leiweke also addressed McGowan's depature in a statement:
“I have had the good fortune of working closely with Chris and being a part of his career and life for over 20 years. He came to us early on and was part of, not only the vision for STAPLES Center and L.A. LIVE, but the Kings and eventually the Galaxy. He has been an important part of everything we do here," said Leiweke. "He has helped us shape our vision, create our passion and establish AEG as one of the top sports and entertainment organizations in the country. He will certainly be missed, but there are only a handful of these positions in sports, and this is truly a lifetime opportunity for him. With our facility management division operating the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, we look forward to continuing to work with him. We wish him and his family the very best and thank him immensely for everything he has done for the Kings, the Galaxy and AEG."