Gutcheck moment in dramatic victory over Colorado Rapids may define LA Galaxy season says Todd Dunivant
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It was a true homecoming for Todd Dunivant on Wednesday when the LA Galaxy defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-3 in dramatic fashion.
Finally recovered after an abdominal tear that has sidelined him since the third game of the season, Dunivant returned to the Galaxy starting XI for the first time since April 6. In attendance to see the 32-year-old defender’s first start in months were nearly 90 members of the Colorado native’s family who were in town holding a family reunion.
What they saw, however, was less than positive –at least to start— as LA sputtered out of the gate conceding three goals in the opening 30 minutes of play to fall behind 3-1 at the half. During that slow start, Dunivant lacked sharpness as he was frequently targeted down the flank by Colorado.
“We didn’t come out strong enough. Who knows what it was? They got behind us too many times and they jumped on us,” Dunivant told LA Galaxy Insider. “We had our chances too, but we just weren’t ready.”
In the second half, the Galaxy appeared revitalized after a rousing halftime speech by head coach Bruce Arena. It didn’t take long for LA to pull level as goals from Omar Gonzalez and Alan Gordon tied up the score after just 68 minutes. In the 80th, Landon Donovan scored to seal the victory for the visitors.
For Dunivant who was lifted in favor of A.J. DeLaGarza just two minutes prior to Donovan’s game-winner, the win may come to define the Galaxy’s season.
“Sometimes these types of wins are more important than complete game performances because you need to dig deep and see what we’re made of,” said Dunivant, who claimed to be feeling no ill effects from his abdominal injury after the game. “We had a gut check moment at half time where a lot of words were said, but we were obviously able to come back.
“Playing in Colorado is always a tall task, but it was great to be back on the field and getting a win was fantastic for this team.”
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Landon Donovan has sought to define his final season not in kind words and gestures from long time opponents but by victories, and in the LA Galaxy’s biggest win to date, it was Donovan leading the way.
Playing his final game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Donovan served as the catalyst for the Galaxy’s second half comeback as he notched an assist on LA’s rally starting second goal before notching the game winner in the 80th minute. The goal was vintage Donovan as Robbie Keane’s pass unlocked the defense, with Donovan making a brilliant run and easy to finish to help LA complete their comeback.
“It went into Alan [Gordon], and he made a good pass into Robbie, and when Robbie gets the ball like that with that kind of time, I’m going to run as hard as I can, cause I know he’s going to put it into a good spot,” said Donovan. “I picked my head up and saw Clint [Irwin], so I wanted to make sure I had a good touch by him, and then get it off quickly. I’m glad it hit the net.”
Following the match, Arena admitted that in the last three games, Donovan’s performances have been less than stellar, but against the Rapids, he showcased the skill that made him an American soccer great.
“Landon dug deep. I haven’t seen that type of passion out of Landon in a game in a long time,” Arena said. “He wanted to win and he wanted to be an important part of our team to win this game. He did a terrific job.”
Unlike Saturday’s ceremony in Columbus that was spoiled by LA’s worst defeat of the year, Donovan was in a more pleasant mood about Wednesday’s proceedings that saw him presented with a slew of gifts including a ski pass, wine and other goodies.
“I’ve spend a lot of time in this city over my career. I remember playing in Mile High back in 2001, and to see this beautiful facility, and their organization (Colorado Rapids), the way they’ve it has turned around is satisfying for me as someone who has been in this league for so long,” he said. “I’m incredibly appreciative of what happened in Columbus and what happened today. There is absolutely no obligation for anyone to do that, but it shows a lot of class and a lot of respect that I greatly appreciate.”
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- The LA Galaxy battled back from a two goal deficit in the second half to earn a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena's thoughts on the result are below.
(On the team's second half comeback...)
ARENA: "They responded. We are fortunate that we got a few good goals and I think that once we got the second goal, they were certainly under pressure. The third goal was obviously big and then I thought that we'd have a chance to get the fourth one. Obviously a big second half for our team."
(On the reason that the team started so slowly...)
ARENA: "As they say, sh** happens. You can never predict these things in sports. You see all the time in athletics that sometimes there are out results and sometimes teams come out flat for whatever reason. Tonight was certainly the case with us, so it was a tale of two halves.
(On the role Alan Gordon played in the comeback...)
ARENA: "He helped. He's an experienced player and scored a good goal. He knows what to do in these types of games so it's good to have that option. We had some guys who were dangerous on the field when we needed to get some goals. To combine Alan with Robbie [Keane], Landon [Donovan], and Gyasi [Zardes] gives us some good options."
DENVER -- The LA Galaxy will have an opportunity to get back in the win column on Wednesday when they take on the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The game will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes at 6:00 pm PT. Remember to send in questions for the pregame and postgame shows using the hashtag "#GalaxyInsider."
*Dick's Sporting Goods Park has been a house of frustrations for the Galaxy as of late and on Wednesday, the team will look to notch their first win at DSG Park since April 2012.
*The Galaxy will likely be without the services of left back Robbie Rogers on Wednesday due to a quadriceps injury, which should allow Todd Dunivant to slide back into the LA Galaxy starting XI.
*Gyasi Zardes has been red hot as of late with four goals in each of his last four games, but can he extend his streak against the Rapids.
*The future is bright for the Colorado Rapids because of young attacker Dillon Serna and the 20-year-old has a fan in Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan.
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
ROBBIE KEANE vs. JARED WATTS
With Drew Moor and Shane O'Neill on the mend, the Rapids will likely rely upon Watts, who slided in against D.C. United. A converted midfielder, expect Watts to get plenty of pressure from Keane and Gyasi Zardes early and often.
WHAT THEY SAID:
“I think that we’re trying to be aggressive and I’m trying to be aggressive as well. We’re playing well in that way, but we need to be better as an entire team defensively in how we play. That will be better against Colorado, there’s no doubt about that, but we are creating chances and we’re scoring goals.” – Landon Donovan on rebounding from a poor performance against Columbus.
Galaxy 2 (Keane, Zardes) Colorado 1 (Serna)
With the postseason looming, LA Galaxy II bolstered their roster by signing U.S. youth international forward Kainoa Bailey and French defender Jason Bli.
Bailey, 19, joins Los Dos on a free transfer from German club Bayer 04 Leverkusen where the Nevada native signed his first professional contract last year. Meanwhile, Bli arrives on a free transfer from L'Entene Sannois Saint-Gratien in the French fourth division. The 20-year-old defender spent time on trial with los Dos earlier this year, playing in matches against the Fresno Fuego and the Galaxy first team.
“The addition of Kainoa Bailey to our roster brings a different dimension to our attack,” said LA Galaxy II head coach Curt Onalfo in a club statement. “Kainoa is a young, talented player who is very fast in the attack and we are excited to strengthen our roster by bringing him to LA.
“Jason is another great addition to our roster, and we are excited to see him join the team,” added Onalfo. “Bli is a skillful player and we are sure he will add great depth to our backline.”
In addition to the two signings, the Galaxy USL PRO affiliate released outside back Eder Arreola. The former UCLA Bruins star made 11 appearances for Galaxy II in his lone season with the club.
Thoughts on the moves?
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DENVER -- The LA Galaxy will hope to put their disappointing 4-1 defeat to the Columbus Crew behind them when they take on the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.
In the latest edition of LAGalaxy.com's "By the Numbers," we look at LA's moribund record at Dick's Sporting Goods Park as of late.
Check it out below.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Landon Donovan is hanging up his boots at season’s end, but the long time U.S. international knows that MLS is in safe hands because of players like Colorado Rapids youngster Dillon Serna.
A favorite in youth soccer circles, Serna has enjoyed a strong first full season in MLS with three goals and three assists in 20 appearances for the Rapids. Serna's finest strike came in last Sunday’s 4-2 defeat to D.C. United when the 20-year-old launched a 35-yard volley that sailed into the back of the United net.
Even though the U.S. Under-20 midfielder may not be old enough to drink, he has a fan in Donovan.
“He’s done well. It’s exciting for this league to have all sorts of young Homegrown Players do well,” Donovan told LA Galaxy Insider. “That’s the future of this league in my opinion and to see another one like him do well is very good. It’s very early for him and he still has a lot to prove, but he has done well.”
There will be an an LA Galaxy connection on the Brazil squad named for their upcoming matches against Colombia on Sept. 6 and Ecuador on Sept. 9.
Ricardo Goulart, the younger brother of Galaxy midfielder Juninho, was named to the 22-man squad for the U.S. based friendlies on Tuesday. The September games will be the first for the Selecao under new head coach Dunga and the first since the South American nation was unceremoniously dispatched from the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a devastating 7-1 defeat to eventual champions Germany on home soil.
Goulart, 23, plays for Brazilian club Cruizero and is current goal scoring leader in the Brazilian Serie A with eight goals for the Belo Horizonte based club.
"My family and I are very happy that my brother has been called into the national team," Juninho told LA Galaxy Insider on Tuesday. "I've been with him throughout his career and it's such an honor to see him represent our country. I hope that this is the start of a long career for Brazil for my brother."
The LA Galaxy will be giving away a special edition tin lunchbox to the first 15,000 fans on Saturday when the club takes on Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The old timey lunch box features Galaxy players of yesteryear and today including Cobi Jones, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane. Emblazoned on both sides is the bridge between the two eras in Galaxy history: Landon Donovan.
Check out a vine of the box below.
On this day in LA Galaxy history just six years ago, Bruce Arena was hired to be the Galaxy's head coach and general manager, forever changing the club's history.
The now 62-year-old Arena was hired amid a tumultuous 2008 campaign for the manager and his current team as the Galaxy as the team limped out of the gate with a 6-8-6 record under Ruud Guillit and interim head coach Cobi Jones before the former U.S national team head coach took the reins. Immediately after taking the helm, Arena's Galaxy went 8-13-9 to finish second to last in the Western Conference, but the club reached the Superliga final before falling to Mexican side Pachuca in penalties.
By the 2009 campaign, Arena had reshaped the Galaxy by drafting Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza and acquiring goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts who all helped lead the team to the MLS Cup final where they fell in penalties to Real Salt Lake. For Arena's role in reshaping the Galaxy from laughingstock to MLS Cup contender, the LA boss was awarded the MLS Coach of the Year Award.
Since that 2009 season, the Galaxy have won two MLS Cups, two Supporters' Shields and reached the Western Conference Final each year except two with Arena at the helm. During his time with the Galaxy, Arena has gone 91-51-51 in regular season play and 13-4-2 in the postseason as well as 2-1 in MLS Cup matches.
Arena's success with the Galaxy has helped bolster the legacy of a head coach that is already widely considered the best American coach ever. Overall, Arena has a 60 percent winning percentage in 331 games coached which is the highest winning percentage among coaches with 50 or more games coached. The Galaxy boss' 72.5 percent winning percentage in the postseason is also a league record.
In terms of total regular season wins, Arena is second in MLS history with 168 victories which is behind only Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. But despite being second in regular season victories, Arena is first all-time in playoff victories which 27 which is four better than Schmid's mark.
Interesting side note, Arena is fourth in all-time career winning percentage among MLS head coaches to have ever coached in the league. Tied for first is former Galaxy assistant Ralph Perez who won his only game as a head coach when Los Angeles defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 in June 1999.