CARSON, Calif. – At last, the LA Galaxy may have Landon Donovan back on the field for Sunday’s vital Western Conference clash with the Portland Timbers.
Donovan has been suffering from a left ankle sprain since LA’s 2-2 draw on Sept. 14 against D.C. United, but Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said that Donovan was “close” to suiting up in LA’s last two games against Seattle Sounders FC and C.S. Cartaginés. However he did admit there was a “strong possibility” that Donovan will be ready for the match against the Timbers.
The 31-year-old Galaxy forward returned to full training on Friday, but took a “we'll see” approach to his availability for the match against the Timbers.
“With any injury, you don’t know until you wake up each day and some days you wake up and feel great,” said Donovan, who admits that the turf at JELD-WEN Field will not enter into the training staff’s thinking when deciding his availability. “A few weeks back [against San Jose Earthquakes on Aug. 31] I had a [back] injury where I was told that I had zero chance that I was playing and I played 90 minutes. The Seattle game, I was more hopeful and I was told that I couldn’t play. Each day you wake up and you take it for what it is and then you move forward.”
If Donovan does suit up, the forward is well aware that the Galaxy will need three points on the road if they're going to solidify their playoff spot—and possibly make a run at the MLS Supporters’ Shield.
“We have five games left and realistically, if we want to vie for the Supporters Shield, we've got to win four out of five,” said Donovan.” Every game is crucial right now and we want to put our best team on the field every time.”
CARSON, Calif. – A nagging left hamstring strain has kept Robbie Rogers from suiting up for the LA Galaxy for the past month, but the 26-year-old is hopeful that he'll be able to return at some point in the next month.
Following training on Thursday—Rogers’ first full training session—Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters that the winger is “getting close” to returning, but there was no decision yet on whether he'd be able to appear in this weekend’s match against the Portland Timbers. When asked about his status, Rogers provided no timeline for his return, but was pleased with his first day on the field.
“I’m feeling good. Today was my first day back in training. I’m feeling really good, but I’m being careful because I tore it a few times,” Rogers told LA Galaxy Insider. “I'm just being patient, but I feel really good and my movements felt good today. I'm starting to feel more confident in my leg and it’s going to take another week or two, but at least I finished a whole day of training without any setbacks. We'll see how it reacts tomorrow.”
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – It wasn’t always easy, but LA Galaxy Homegrown defender Oscar Sorto accomplished all of his goals in his first professional start for the team as he maintain a shutout victory in a 3-0 win over C.S. Cartaginés.
The 19-year-old made his first competitive appearance for the Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League win helping to lock down the right side of defense during the team’s 3-0 shutout. Stationed on the outside, Sorto was routinely at the right place at the right time and able to make timely clearances that helped silence a desperate Cartaginés attack.
“We knew what we had to do. We had to contain them after we scored and in the second half, we just had to defend, but we still got the win,” said Sorto. “My teammates helped me out by motivating me and helping me stay concentrated on the game.
Now the Homegrown defender has just a single goal: earn more playing time for the team’s first team in the near future.
“We were looking forward to advancing to the quarterfinals and our goal among the reserves was to win so that we’d get more games in CCL,” said Sorto. “We like playing too, so I think that all of are excited to play in El Salvador. Also hopefully, I can be a backup soon or get more playing time next season."
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica— Chandler Hoffman has been eagerly awaiting a chance to showcase his skills in a first team game and in his first start for the LA Galaxy, he did just that.
Hoffman scored his first professional goal in the 18th minute of LA’s 3-0 CONCACAF Champions League victory over C.S. Cartaginés on Wednesday. The win allowed the Galaxy to qualify for the tournament’s quarterfinals for the third consecutive year.
A prolific goal scorer at the college level with UCLA, Hoffman first professional goal mirrored many of those goals scored at Drake Stadium as he found himself unmarked far post and easily tapped in a Michael Stephens cross for the team’s second goal of the night.
“It was huge,” said Hoffman, who had only scored in reserve games and friendlies during his time with the Philadelphia Union prior to be traded to the Galaxy in March. “I’ve scored a ton in the reserve league and in the friendlies, so to make it translate to meaningful games is huge. I just want to keep this momentum going forward.”
His first goal and first start under his belt, Hoffman hopes that he’s worked into the conversation for more minutes as the Galaxy seek to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“Bruce told us tonight that we had a huge opportunity,” said Hoffman. “And I think that all of us who stepped on the field showed that we want to be playing as much as possible.”
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- The LA Galaxy needed just a point on the road against Cartaginés to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, but an explosive offensive display in the first half ensured all three.
Jack McBean, Chandler Hoffman and Laurent Courtois all scored in the opening 30 minutes as LA dominated the Costa Rican side en route to a 3-0 victory. McBean’s finish allowed him to tie Robbie Keane for the most goals by an LA player in the CCL while Hoffman’s goal was the first of his professional career.
LA wrap up the CONCACAF Champions League group stage on Oct. 24 when they take on Isidro Metapán in El Salvador. The match will determine where LA are seeded in the CCL quarterfinal stage.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters in Costa Rica that Landon Donovan’s exclusion from Wednesday’s 3-0 CONCACAF Champions League victory was precautionary due to his ankle injury.
Following the match, Arena was asked about Donovan’s status and what he was not in the game day roster despite traveling and he admitted that he was left off as Arena looks ahead to Sunday’s match against the Portland Timbers.
"Landon is just returning from injury," said Arena. "We didn't want to risk it for this game, but we're hopeful that he'll be ready for Sunday."
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica— LA Galaxy Homegrown defender Oscar Sorto will make his competitive first team debut for the club in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match against C.S. Cartaginés.
Sorto was included in the starting XI for LA’s vital CCL fixture by head coach Bruce Arena that will see him man the right side of defense behind midfielder Michael Stephens. With the defender limited to just reserve game and International Champions Cup appearances, Sorto is geared up to make his LA debut.
“Bruce has given me the opportunity to start and right now I’m just going to picture how the game is going to go and hopefully I can do well,” said Sorto. “We’re expecting them to press us a lot and we’re going to just try to keep the game close and not concede goals. If we get a chance, we want to score.
“It’s going to be a big role for me because we know what we have to do to move on to quarterfinals, so I’ll just be as concentrated as I can be. Hopefully, we get a result.”
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica— Issues with the lighting system at C.S. Cartaginés’ home stadium forced the match into the sparking and cavernous Estadio Nacional, but although this may hurt the locals, the LA Galaxy are excited to play at the sparkling venue.
Following training on Tuesday’s training session; I spoke to several players about the stadium conditions.
Their thoughts are below…
RAFAEL GARCIA: “It’s a big stadium with a beautiful field that is not too much different from ours. If it is wet the ball will move fast and it’s a great field that we can’t complain about.”
JACK MCBEAN: “It’s a cool stadium with a really nice field. It’s brand new and we’re excited for the game tomorrow. We’ll see if it benefits us. Last year, we went into El Salvador and played in a really rough stadium and got the result, so we’ll see.”
BRUCE ARENA: “The field is in good shape. We’re obviously looking forward to the game. The fans won’t be too close to the field, which is good.”
LANDON DONOVAN: “It should be exciting for our guys to play here. Generally you play in small stadiums with bad fields or turf, old stadiums that are weathered and worn. This will be an opportunity to play in a nice stadium, but we expect that they’ll still have a raucous crowd and it will look like an away game in CONCACAF. That has to be the mentality, and we need to do our best to get three points.”
MARCELO SARVAS: “It’s beautiful. It’s really nice and the grass is in good condition. It’s always hard to grow because it rains a lot, but it’s in great condition. It’ll be a beautiful place for a game tomorrow. I think the stadium will help them because it’s better for soccer and it’s good for a beautiful game and to try to do things right.”
Traveling in Central America isn't all stadium photos and soccer as I went to have dinner with LA Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas at his favorite chicharronera from his days playing in Costa Rica.
Check out the video below...
Prior to the team departing for Costa Rica, LAGalaxy.com caught up with Pablo Mastroeni, Brian Rowe and Michael Stephens for a video preview of Wednesday's match against C.S. Cartagines.
Check it out below...