FRESNO, Calif. – Laurent Courtois is staying with the LA Galaxy, in albeit a much different role than the one he held in 2013.
Courtois confirmed to LA Galaxy Insider on Saturday following LA Galaxy II’s 2-1 victory over the Fresno Fuego, that he will be joining the first-year USL PRO club as a player-coach for the 2014 season. The 35-year-old who made 10 appearances in all competitions with two goals and one assist for LA’s first team last season went 45 minutes in the midfield of Galaxy II’s victory.
“It’s a nice experience for me and I look forward to bring what I can with my experience. I think that we can optimistic because the staff is interesting and the team is very good as well,” said Courtois who also operates his own soccer academy called the French Soccer Institute. “Curt Onalfo’s resume speaks for itself and I’m glad that I get the chance to work with him. For me, it’s a really it’s a great experience and I hope that I can learn as much as I can on and off the field.”
And as he gains experience with Galaxy II, Courtois hopes that his time as a player-coach will only help him when he decides to focus on coaching full time.
“[Head coaching] is the goal, so I have to learn from the best and the most experience,” added Courtois. “This is the best place to be right now.”
In the latest installment of LAGalaxy.com's "Road to Morocco" series, we look at Club Tijuana and the LA Galaxy's role in San Diego soccer culture, and the "battle" that exists between the two clubs for domination of the area.
During the piece, former LA Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez (a former member of the San Diego Sockers), former Galaxy Academy attacker and San Diego native Paul Arriola, and Galaxy Technical Director and San Diego native Jovan Kirovski chime in.
Check it out below.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne explains the role the U.S. Embassy plays when American clubs travel abroad
MEXICO CITY – Prior to their match against Liga MX side Pumas UNAM on Tuesday, the LA Galaxy received a rare treat -- a visit from the United States Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne.
Wayne was presented a team-autographed jersey by U.S. international Landon Donovan – one of Hayes’ favorite athletes – and took in the match as the Galaxy fell 2-1 to UNAM at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario. The gesture was a thank you of sorts from the Galaxy as Wayne and his office provide vital assistance whenever American teams—be they the Galaxy or the U.S. National Team—travel to Mexico.
“In general, things go very smoothly. But once in a while, there is a visa problem or a passport gets lost and then we are available to help," Wayne told LA Galaxy Insider. "Sometimes there are questions about security and our security office is ready to help when American teams are here—basically to facilitate if there is a need for facilitation. Fortunately, as the Mexicans say ‘mi casa es su casa’ (my house is your house) so the attitude is very warm and receiving.”
The game of soccer is not a mystery for Wayne who was a former defender –he describes himself as being ‘not too fast but having a good leg’ –in his youth while also serving as a coach on his children’s soccer teams.
Although the ambassador’s work is to further the intricately complicated relationship between the United States and Mexico, Wayne admits that one of his favorite moments of the past year was when the two CONCACAF rivals faced off.
“It’s pretty exciting. There’s a lot of emotion in the stadium but not too many people cheering for the U.S. at the Azteca. Generally though, it’s a way to bring people together,” said Wayne. “For the last meeting between the two teams, we brought young people together in a city library. It was simply great fun. Like I said, sports cross borders and they teach valuable lessons like sportsmanship and leadership.”
Central California Cup match between the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes drawing publicity in Fresno
The LA Galaxy may have just returned from Mexico City, but the focus is already turning to Saturday’s clash with the San Jose Earthquakes in the first-ever Central California Cup.
On Wednesday, myself and the rest of the LAGalaxy.com headed up the state ahead of Thursday’s match between LA Galaxy II and the Fresno Fuego, which will serve as the inaugural match for the USL PRO side. Just two days later, the Galaxy first team will make the same trek to face the Earthquakes.
Tickets for the Central California Cup are already going quickly with more than 8,000 tickets sold for the match at the 12,500-seat Chukchansi Park according to KFSN-Fresno.
Planning to head up to Fresno? Love that the video appears to have Galaxy clips from 2010?
Share your thoughts below.
MEXICO CITY – The LA Galaxy fell 2-1 to Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage in Mexico City on Tuesday.
Below are a few thoughts from the match…
*The Mexico City altitude was a major factor in the match as the Galaxy players began the match sluggishly. During the opening 35 minutes, Pumas controlled the tempo until the Galaxy were able to threaten with a few late chances. The narrative repeated itself in the second stanza as Pumas again dominated proceddings early before LA grabbed a late goal. Although there will be no altitude factor when the Galaxy take on Club Tijuana in March, they will be making several trips this year to Colorado and Salt Lake. Plus, if LA is successful against Tijuana and Cruz Azul bounces Sporting KC, the Galaxy will be back in “D.F.” in April for the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals.
*In what was a lackluster first half, forwards Rob Friend and Samuel put forth another strong performance. Both strikers were unlucky not to score in the early moments and each showed impressive grit up top against a physical Pumas defense. Samuel, in particular, was quite dangerous as he repeatedly dropped into midfield to create scoring opportunities.
*The 2014 season is very important for Chandler Hoffman and against Pumas the 23-year-old forward was one of the game’s most impressive players. Partnered alongside the inexperienced Bradford Jamieson IV in the second half, Hoffman was dangerous and he repeatedly tested the UNAM back four. Just moments after coming into the match, Hoffman nearly pulled the Galaxy level but saw his chance sail just wide. Undeterred, the industrious Hoffman helped create LA’s only goal as he forced the corner that led to Kyle Venter’s goal.
*In addition to getting a goal, Venter and his partner in central defense, Leonardo performed well in the second half, limiting UNAM’s scoring opportunities despite the Mexican side controlling possession. The Brazilian in particular was able to make several last ditch clearances including one that prevented a late Pumas breakaway.
*After struggling against FC Shirak, goalkeeper Jaime Penedo’s timing was much improved against the Mexican side. The Panamanian international made several timely clearances against Pumas after several costly turnovers against FC Shirak.
Below are a series of photos from the match.
MEXICO CITY— Stefan Ishizaki’s experience with playing at altitude is quite limited due to his long playing career in the lowlands of Scandinavia and Italy, but on Tuesday, he received a major test.
The Swede started as the Galaxy fell 2-1 to Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City. Playing in “D.F.” presents a number of challenges for opposing players, but none greater than the suffocating elevation of a city that sits at an altitude of 7,350 ft.
During his 45 minute shift, Ishizaki was stationed in the center of midfield in front of defensive counterweight Baggio Hušidić as LA tried out a 4-1-3-2 formation during the first stanza. However, Ishizaki admittedly struggled to make an impact early.
“It was brutal. My first 25 minutes, I could not catch my breath. It was very tough. After 25 minutes, I got into the game and felt a lot better,” said Ishizaki. “But we played against a Mexican team with a style that we’re probably going to face when we play Tijuana and it was good to see that style first hand.”
“In our half, we did an okay job. We didn’t move our feet quick enough and we let them play through us too easily. I think that was because we didn’t have the energy to be quick,” Ishizaki continued. “The elevation played a part a little bit, but we train every day to be able to do these things. We weren’t able to do it today against a team in the middle of their season, despite having a month left of preseason.’
Although he was unable to get forward frequently on Tuesday, Ishizaki, who is likely to play wide on the right during the regular season, was pleased with the chance to play centrally against Pumas.
Said Ishizaki, “I like it. I like it a lot better when I’m fitter and I can make runs and support the strikers while also go down and get the ball from the back four. I like it when I’m fitter, but it was okay, particularly in the last 25 minutes of the half.”
And as for the altitude and travel to Mexico City? Ishizaki believes that the experience will serve LA well as the season begins.
“It was a good exercise. We have to get use to the travel and we’re going to play at elevation so it’s good to get used to it,” said Ishizaki. “I’m not used to it after playing in Europe. It was a good experience for me and now I have some idea what to expect.”
MEXICO CITY -- Ahead of Tuesday's closed-door scrimmage with Pumas UNAM, the LA Galaxy had a chance to practice at the training facilities of the seven-time Mexican champions on Tuesday.
The session lasted just over an hour and was attended by more than 30 representatives from Herbalife Mexico.
The photos can be seen below.
CCL Preview: Club Tijuana leave it late, but extend home unbeaten run with 2-1 victory over Monterrey
It turns out all Club Tijuana needed to return to winning ways was a little home cooking.
Back at the Estadio Caliente, Dario Benedetto and Cristian Pellerano scored as Tijuana erased a second half deficit to defeat C.F. Monterrey 2-1, moving up to sixth place in the 2014 Torneo Clausura. The win extended Xolos’ home unbeaten streak to 17 games.
After a back-and-forth first half, Monterrey attacker Cesar Delgado put Los Rayados up in the 65th minute when he launched a shot from beyond the penalty area that sailed past Xolos goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo.
Tijuana needed just 10 minutes to equalize when Benedetto, who came on for American Herculez Gomez in the second half, smashed a close-range opportunity into the back of the Monterrey net. The winner came in the 86th minute as a Juan Hernandez header found a lurking Pellerano setting up an easy finish for the Argentine midfielder.
Club Tijuana returns to action on Feb. 14 when they travel to Torreon to take on Santos Laguna with hopes of snapping their 17-match road winless streak.
Highlights from the match against Monterrey are below...
Less than 20 hours after defeating FC Shirak on Saturday, the LA Galaxy hit the road bound for Mexico ahead of a week of preseason preparations away from StubHub Center.
I’ll be providing analysis and coverage during the Galaxy’s travels this week, which include a trip to Mexico City to face Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage before the team returns to the U.S. and makes a brief jaunt to Central California for a match against the San Jose Earthquakes in Fresno.
Check back for more details later.