Good Morning everyone,
Today, the National Football League kicks into full swings. You can bet that members of the LA Galaxy will be watching. Just a sampling of some of the favorite teams of the players and coaching staff: Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins, among others.
Back to MLS news:
The San Jose Earthquakes clinched a spot in the 2012 MLS Playoffs on Saturday by virtue of the Seattle Sounders come from behind 2-1 victory over Chivas USA at CenturyLink Field. The Earthquakes' qualification equaled the record for earliest qualification -- along with the 2011 LA Galaxy and 1996 DC United -- while the league had 12 teams. San Jose is currently in the pole position for the Supporters' Shield at the moment as they sit three points ahead of Sporting Kansas City with seven games to play. The Galaxy still face San Jose one last time this year in their penultimate league game of the season on October 21st at Buck Shaw Stadium.
I'll have more from today's Galaxy Academy match against the Portland Timbers later on in the day. For a recap of Saturday's matches against the Seattle Sounders Academy, check out my recap here.
The LA Galaxy Academy 's Under-18 and Under-16 sides picked up a pair of draws against the Seattle Sounders Academy on the opening day of U.S. Soccer Development Academy play on Saturday.
In the first match of the morning, LA's U-18's drew their Sounders counterparts, 3-3 in what was a back-and-forth contest.
Seattle’s Odason Pelogi began the scoring just a minute into the match with the Galaxy equalizing in the 16th minute with a goal from Justin Dhillon. Seattle took the lead in the 22nd minute with Jalen Markey scoring, but the lead was short lived as Jack McBean tying the game six minutes later. In the second half, LA pulled ahead in the 53rd minute when Bryan Guzman scored, but Sounders found the equalizer in the 74th minute with a goal from Isidro Prado-Huerta. Among the participants were Galaxy Academy starlets Raul Mendiola and Jaime Villarreal (younger brother of Jose), who each had a strong performance against the Sounders.
Meanwhile in the second match, the Galaxy's U-16's drew the Sounders, 1-1. Seattle’s MacArthur Clarke opening the scoring in the 8th minute before LA’s Jonathan Ramirez tied it in the 63rd minute. Seattle controlled much of the match dominating in both possession and scoring chances before Ramirez drew LA level midway through the second half.
On the bench for LA was goalkeeper Abraham Romero, who did not play, but recently returned from a stint with Mexico’s U-15’s. During his training stint in Mexico City, the goalkeeper from Altadena was able to interact with members of Mexico’s first team who were training for the nation’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. Romero has now suited up for both Mexico's U-15's as well as the United States' group. The match also featured the debut for a pair of sons of Galaxy coaches with Christian Onalfo (son of assistant coach Curt) getting the start while Ian Sarachan (son of Associate head coach Dave) made his assistant coaching debut.
The Galaxy Academy return to action on Sunday against the Portland Timbers Academy at The Home Depot Center. The U-18's open the day at 10 a.m.. on University Field No. 2 with the U-16's playing at 12:30 p.m..
My feature story on the rise of LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal discusses how the teenager rose from Inglewood to becoming one of the Galaxy's key contributors in 2012.
However, there were plenty of great words said about Jose's story that couldn't make the story. Not to fear though because I can provide those words here on the LA Galaxy Insider blog.
Below are a series of quotes from Villarreal, Galaxy Associate head coach Dave Sarachan, South Bay Force head coach Todd Saldana and Galaxy Vice President Chris Klein on the youngster.
(On what people told him as he was growing up…)
VILLARREAL: "They just said that if I keep working hard and listen to my coaches that I would get far and I guess I did listen to my coaches."
(On his trials in Germany...)
VILLARREAL: "I was on trial in Germany, but I just wanted to come here and play for my home crowd and be close to my family. Then I got my chance to play with the Galaxy and now I’m very happy here."
(On the affect that Villarreal has on the Galaxy Academy…)
SARACHAN: “It’s massive, the way that this league is headed with the Academy structure and in the very big picture; this is what goes on around the world. So now, we feel that this radius around LA and north and south of LA has got so much talent, but they need to be trained and put in the right environment. These guys are testament to that, that in a professional environment they can thrive.”
(On the advantage of living in Inglewood for Jose…)
SALDANA: “One of the advantages for that for Jose is that he's played a lot of soccer. I wouldn't be surprised if he was playing a game with us and then playing with his older brother during the week playing pick up soccer. He's a kid that played so much because that's the environment that he grew up in. They toughen up a little younger; their dads are always trying to get them into their league and the next level of play once they show signs. That's the big advantage of Jose's play is that he has that street soccer mentality plus living where he grew up there was a league during the week and over the weekend where people were always asking him to play. I don't think that in the traditional soccer arenas, you see kids that grow up in that environment. They go to their weekly practice and league game, this is a guy that wasn't only seeking out soccer but had it available to him 24/7.”
(On how often that he stays in contact with Villarreal…)
SALDANA: “As often as possible...[recently], him and his mom came out to my U-14 boys practice and came by to say hello and were in semi regular contact, but most importantly right now I is checking in to see how he's doing.”
(On Villarreal's family...)
KLEIN: "His family is a very nice family. There's three brothers, we've had two of them that have come through our system. His younger brother (Jaime) is with him and with them, his parents are very supportive and they care a lot about their kids. It's one of the reasons that the two of them have been very successful soccer players because they have the family dynamic where they don't intrude, maybe. I think that's the best way to describe it and that's what [Jose] has."
Jose Villarreal's life has changed dramatically in just span of two months. The LA Galaxy Homegrown player has quickly developed from youth prospect to one of LA's key contributors.
To investigate Jose's rise, I wrote this feature on the teenager from Inglewood. I'll have a little more on the piece momentarily including the quotes that couldn't make the piece.
Features like this will become a weekly occurrence on LAGalaxy.com ranging from a wide variety of topics.
Without the services of Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, the United States fell 2-1 to Jamaica in a World Cup Qualifier in Kingston on Friday.
The Americans scored just 35 seconds into the match as Clint Dempsey tallied for the Americans. However, the Reggae Boyz roared back with goals from Rodolph Austin in the 23rd minute and Luton Shelton in the 62nd (Highlights of the game can be found here). The USMNT take on the Jamaicans again on Tuesday, September 11th at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Meanwhile, in MLS action, there is just a single game today between the Seattle Sounders and Chivas USA at 1pm, but it carries serious playoff implications for the LA Galaxy. If the Sounders win or draw today at CenturyLink Field, they will have clinched a playoff spot for the current leaders of the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose are currently leading the Supporters' Shield race at the moment and would be the first MLS team to clinch a berth in the postseason.
More to come later in the day.
LA Galaxy midfielder Dan Keat was an unused substitute but New Zealand began their campaign for the 2014 World Cup with a 2-0 victory over New Caledonia.
Shane Smeltz and Chris Wood scored as New Zealand picked up the first victory. Keat and New Zealand continue their campaign on Tuesday, September 11th against the Solomon Islands.
Keat has one appearance for New Zealand having participated in a friendly against Jamaica on February 29th.
Robbie Keane and the rest of Ireland's national team began their qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup in a big way on Friday with a dramatic come from behind victory over Kazakhstan.
Down 1-0 in the 89th minute, the Irish struck back as Keane drew a penalty and slotted in the equalizer. A minute later, Irish forward Kevin Doyle scored the game-winning-goal to put Ireland in the pole position in Group C, a group that contains European heavyweight Germany as well as Sweden.
Keane's goal comes after the Irish forward delivered an interview to the Irish Independent wherein the LA Galaxy forward admitted that he considered retiring from International play after several of his Ireland contemparies goalkeeper Shay Given and midfielder Damien Duff announced their retirement from the Irish squad. However, Keane commited his future to the Irish for the foreseeable future for as long as they are interested in his services.
"I thought about it," Keane told the Irish Independent. "And when Damien and Shay decided to go that way, it was a sad day for Irish football because they've been two of the best players this country has ever seen.
"But the thought of never putting on a green jersey again was quite difficult for me to come around to. Even now, I'm dreading that day. I'll keeping playing on while I'm fit and healthy and as long as the manager picks me.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Christian Wilhelmsson has arrived in Southern California and the Swedish International is hoping to make an immediate impact for the LA Galaxy.
However, Wilhelmsson had plenty more to say, below are his thoughts on Los Angeles and how it relates to his previous experience in Saudi Arabia.
WILHELMSSON: “So far, I haven’t seen so much, it’s like where I come from. Very hot and a lot of traffic. [he last played in Saudi Arabia]. When I start to see other places maybe it’ll be a bit different.”
(On playing in Saudi Arabia…)
WILHELMSSON: “I’ve said it before that it’s a surprisingly good level. It was very hot. As a player it’s not that different from other places. You have your games, you have your rhythm and your routine….It’s the same all most everywhere, but for the family, maybe it’s different with things to do, but not that much.”
(On cultural differences…)
WILHELMSSON: “Culturally, you have to know what is going on, how to be there. You learn quite fast. I tried to be as open as possible and try to respect them. It’s not a problem at all. I’ve been in a lot of places now and to adapt is one of my qualities.”
(On whether Saudi Arabia was difficult for his family…)
WILHELMSSON: “Of course, it was difficult in the beginning, but she [his wife Oksana] got used to it and she enjoyed it with me.”
(On whether he knows David Beckham, Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan…)
WILHELMSSON: “I played against David two times (Sweden vs. England) and Robbie as well with the national team. Donovan, I’m not sure if I know him personally.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan isn't quite back from his nagging hamstring strain, but the Galaxy captain is targeting a return to action during LA's next match on September 14th against the Colorado Rapids.
On Thursday, Donovan caught up reporters for the first time since departing for U.S. national team duty -- where he picked up the strain during the friendly against Mexico -- and discussed his recovery.
CARSON, Calif. -- The high-powered LA Galaxy offense got yet another weapon this week with the addition of dynamic winger and Swedish International Christian Wilhelmsson.
Among those impressed with the move is Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who expects to be on the receiving end of several crosses by the Swede once he returns from a nagging left hamstring strain. Donovan spoke to the media about the Swede and his own health following Thursday's training session.
Below are Donovan's thoughts on the Swede...
DONOVAN: “I’ve only seen him train once now and we all know his resume speaks for itself, but I think that it’s low risk and potentially really high reward for us. We’re fortunate at this club that we get a number of players that reach out and want to play here. It’s a big advantage for us and if he can help us along the way then it will be great.”
(On the depth that Wilhelmsson adds…)
DONOVAN: “We saw our depth last week, we were able to put really our second team on the field and really hammer Puerto Rico here. So that’s going to be important, we know that’s important, we learned that last year and you never know what happens. Robbie’s gone a couple games, David wasn’t training today, I haven’t been training so guys need to be ready to step in and that’s been a really good quality in this team over the last couple years since Bruce has been here.
(On MLS’ perception in Sweden…)
DONOVAN: “I think that Sweden is an underrated national team in the world, I think that they have some very good players and we’re hopeful that one of them can help us here. I think that it’s good that they want to come and play here and I think that you’re going to see more and more of that.”
(On Wilhelmsson proving that MLS is an underrated league…)
DONOVAN: “It’s probably similar to the Swedish league, I think when you don’t know a lot about it, you just assume that it’s not very good. So, I think that the more high quality, high profile players playing here the better because it helps spread the word about how good this league is.”
(On Wilhelmsson giving LA their first true wide player…)
DONOVAN: “It gives us an added element that maybe we haven’t had as much. I think that Hector [Jimenez] does a good job of providing that when he’s playing. He gives us an ability to get wide and to get crosses in front of the goal for a long time, we had Eddie Lewis and Chris Klein here who were more typical wide players, but we’ve kind of gone away from that. Our style of play is a little more different and if you can have players that can provide that it’s really helpful because you can’t just clog the middle and worry about the guys in the middle. You need to pay attention to the guys wide and that’[s something that can be helpful down the stretch.”
(On whether he’d be playing more at forward because LA has that wide presence…)
DONOVAN: “Probably, the good thing now is that we’re getting Edson [Buddle] back in the fold. Jose [Villarreal] played well, [Jack] played well in the game against Puerto Rico so we do have some depth at forward, but there’s a lot of players in the midfield vying for minutes and my guess is that I’ll be primarily used up top.”
(On the team developing more dimensions and perhaps more than last season…)
DONOVAN: “I think that the early part of the year, as bad as it was, was really helpful and I think that it made it really clear, how to be successful and if we don’t do things the right way, then you’re not going to be successful. And now we’re in a really good groove where we understand what it takes. We were talking about how much impact our young players have had this year and it’s really impressive that we have probably 25, 27 guys who could probably play in most teams in this league. It’s a credit to Bruce and what he’s done and Curt with the reserve guys