CCL

07 January 9:00 am

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy stated that acquiring a target forward was at the top of their wish list for the 2014 season and just seven days into the year, they may have got their man.

LA announced the acquisition of 22-year-old Brazilian forward Samuel on a year-long loan from Brazil’s Fluminense on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1 center target striker who tallied 15 goals in 72 appearances over the last two years with the Fluzão will be added to the Galaxy’s roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and his P-1 Visa.

“We are pleased to add Samuel to our roster,” said LA Galaxy Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena in a statement released by the club. “Samuel is a young, talented forward with both size and skill. We are confident his addition will help boost our attack in 2014.”

Samuel's signature is a coup for the Galaxy as the Brazilian striker who served as the strike partner for Brazilian international Fred at Fluminense had been linked with a number of clubs in Spain, Brazil and China in recent weeks. Most notably, Samuel nearly completed deals to Real Madrid B and Barcelona-based Espanyol, but saw the moves fall through that kept him in Brazil.

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Thoughts on the Brazilian signing?

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06 January 4:35 pm

Former LA Galaxy Academy player Paul Arriola’s career path could have taken him to MLS, but instead he opted for Liga MX side Club Tijuana, and the one-time LA Academy forward isn’t at all surprised that young players like LA’s Jose Villarreal are heading south of the border.

Villarreal is the latest in a slew of players who have left MLS for Mexico after he joined Cruz Azul last month on a year-long loan. Although Villarreal left LA on a loan, Arriola opted to sign with Tijuana last May after spurning a Homegrown contract from the Galaxy.

Arriola and Xolos will take on the LA Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal on March 12 at StubHub Center before the return leg on March 18 in Tijuana.  Although hypothetically, Arriola could have been lining up for LA in the CCL quarterfinals if things had gone differently, he applauds players opting to play in Mexico.

“It’s good for American players who want to take a different route. Sometimes in [the United States] we’re not given the opportunity so there are other options and places to go,” Arriola told LAGalaxy.com. “Luckily for myself, my opportunity came and I was able to take it. Now here I am [with the first team].”

While Villarreal’s status with the Cruz Azul first team remains in question at the moment as he finds his feet in Mexico, Arriola is already in new head coach César Farías’ plans after making the game day roster for the club’s scoreless draw with Atlas on Saturday.  

“It was a bit different last season because I went from a wing player to a second striker who sometimes switches out wide,” said Arriola. “It’s been different and I’m getting the opportunity to play so I’m thankful for that."

06 January 11:12 am

CARSON, Calif. – Mark your calendars: the dates for the LA Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal with Club Tijuana has been set.

LA will host Tijuana at StubHub Center on March 12 at 7 pm in the first leg before the Galaxy head to Mexico for the second leg at Estadio Calliente six days later on March 18 at 7pm.

The series will be part of a swing of five games in 14 days for the Galaxy as the series in sandwiched between the team’s first three MLS regular season matches against Real Salt Lake on March 8 and DC. United on March 15 at StubHub Center and RSL on March 22 at Rio Tinto Stadium. 

01 January 2:32 pm

It’s that time again when we make our resolutions for the New Year in hopes of making our lives just a little bit better.

To properly ring in what promises to be an eventful 2014, I decided to make a list of LA Galaxy New Year’s Resolutions.  Now this list ranges from my own thoughts about what the team needs to a few other ideas on how to improve the team and MLS in the New Year.

* Build toward the future: continue to offer playing time to younger players like Jack McBean, Rafael Garcia and Greg Cochrane. One of the team’s greatest successes of 2013 was that head coach Bruce Arena afforded plenty of valuable game time to players like the three aforementioned youth. With international commitments and injuries likely to cause problems yet again, the Galaxy boss should continue his policy of giving time to emerging young talent. 

*Deal with change: There will be some notable absences from the LA Galaxy roster in 2013, but none will be bigger than the departures of longtime right-sided player Sean Franklin—who was selected in Stage One of the MLS Re-Entry Process by D.C. United—and Jose Villarreal who was sent on a year-long loan with Cruz Azul. Both players were frequent contributors a year ago and will need to be replaced in the coming weeks.

*Allow Juninho to receive more responsibility in the attack especially on free kick situations.  The Brazilian midfielder saw his offensive impact stunted in 2013, but he’ll be expected to carry more of the load next season especially on set piece opportunities.

*That being said, LA must show more resilience on defending set pieces and second ball opportunities to prevent the deficiencies that caused the club to fail last season. We've gone over this one many, many times.

*Find a new center forward to play alongside Robbie Keane to add a natural target striker to the Galaxy attack. During the club’s final media availability of 2013, Arena stated that finding this type of player was priority number one for LA ahead of the next campaign and with the transfer window open; the Galaxy will have the chance to get their man. With a target presence alongside Keane, Landon Donovan could transition back to the right midfield and offer greater width to the midfield.

*Build off what was learned in 2013: Continued production from Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo.  LA’s two breakout stars in 2013 were Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo who became regular members of the Galaxy starting XI by season’s end, but production must continue to progress into 2014. For Sarvas, he’ll likely need cede some of his offensive responsibilities to his midfield partner Juninho and contain his physical exuberance that caused him to lead MLS in fouls committed last year. Meanwhile, Penedo must continue to progress as a goalkeeper and cut down on mistakes that led to goals down the stretch.

*More professional growth from Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers. The two attackers experienced inconsistent seasons in 2013, but the New Year brings greater expectations for both to provide reliable contributions for LA. If the pair can develop into offensive weapons, LA may have an added attacking dimension—particularly on the flanks— that was sorely lacking last season.

*Be more successful: Make a strong run in the U.S. Open Cup.  The LA Galaxy have gone out in the third round in the U.S. Open Cup to the Carolina RailHawks each of the last two years, but with no CONCACAF Champions League waiting for them in the fall, a long run in the Open Cup should be beneficial for the team to provide minutes to their entire roster.  Also, winning the USOC will help place the team back into the CCL for the 2015-16 tournament.

*Continue see the LA Galaxy Academy grow and produce players who could become valuable members of the first team in the future. LA Academy forawrd Haji Wright garnered a lot of the headlines toward the end of the year, but LA’s academy teams are continuing to show promise in the form of players like Adonis Amaya, Jaime Villarreal and many others.

*Good health to Robbie Keane who is recovering from surgery on both of his Achilles as he looks to get ready for the preseason. The Galaxy are hoping to have their captain back to full health by the start of preseason, but what is most important is having him fit and ready for the start of the season and the all-important CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal against Club Tijuana in March.

*Travel More: Get off to a strong start against Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal and keep dreams of the FIFA Club World Cup alive. The LA Galaxy’s quest for continental glory begins in March as they host the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals against Club Tijuana. With a victory at home, the Galaxy will be in strong standing as they look to advance past Xolos and reach the CCL semifinals for a second consecutive year in front of a hostile crowd at Estadio Calliente.

*Prosperity for Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan as they look to make their World Cup dream come true. Both Galaxy Designated Players appear to be strong candidates to make U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but both will need to stay healthy and in form to ensure a place on the plane to Brazil.  If they’re able to reach Brazil, the pair is likely to be in Klinsmann’s starting XI and can expect to be major contributors as the U.S. hopes to advance from Group G over the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany.  Here’s hoping for more moments like this one from four years ago.

*New ventures for the coming year: New MLS Television deals. Southern California is spoiled with the great Galaxy coverage on the Time Warner SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, but in 2014, MLS will look to negotiate their new national television deals which will play a major role in the league’s growth going forward. More financial resources from national television partners can only help grow the league which hopes to be among the world’s best during the next decade.

*Continue to foster a connection with the readers of this blog and all content on LAGalaxy.com. What truly makes my job worthwhile is interacting with all of those that enjoy my work on the LA Galaxy Insider Blog and LAGalaxy.com, and in 2014, I hope to have greater interaction with you the readers so that we can place the type of content that you’re looking for on this space.

Happy New Year.

28 December 11:04 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Club Tijuana received a little tune-up for their upcoming Liga MX campaign and their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against the LA Galaxy in March with a 3-3 draw against Club America at StubHub Center on Saturday.

America jumped out to an early two goal lead in the opening half an hour with goals by Luis Rey in the seventh minute and Raul Jimenez in the 30th minute, each exposing lax defending on Tijuana’s part.  In the 52nd minute, Jimenez completed his brace by finishing off a penalty kick.

Tijuana earned their own penalty just five minutes later as Cristian Pellerano finished from the spot to spark a Xolos rally. Xolos cut America’s lead to just one in the 62nd off yet another finish by Pellerano in an impressive build-up sequence that was sparked by ex-LA Galaxy Academy attacker Paul Arriola.  In the 82nd minute, another former Galaxy member Herculez Gomez fired a low cross through the penalty area to a waiting Juan Hernandez who tapped in the equalizer.

“It was pretty interesting [experience to play at StubHub Center], there was a lot of nerves and excitement,” Arriola told LAGalaxy.com. “This time though, it wasn’t to play the Galaxy. It was just a friendly. I’m waiting for March.”

Xolos open the Clausura tournament on Jan. 4 against Atlas in Guadalajara before returning back home to Estadio Caliente to host America in the home opener on Jan. 10. 

Images of the match are on the StubHub Center Facebook page:

21 December 1:05 pm

Jose Villarreal is joining Cruz Azul. 

The 20-year-old striker  was presented alongside new Cruz Azul signings for the upcoming Clausura tournament Rafael Baca, Xavi Baez, Marco Fabian, Michael Farfan, and Fausto Pinto on Saturday afternoon in Mexico.  On Friday, the LA Galaxy declined comment on the reports of Villarreal's move to Mexico, but the club is expected to make an announcement early next week.  

Although there are no official details on the move, it is my understanding that the deal is expected to be a year-long loan for Villarreal with an option for the Mexican side to purchase the forward. This could be a major boost for the Galaxy as Villarreal is likely to attract a hefty fee if he is successful in Mexico which would be used to further strengthen an LA side that fell in the Western Conference Semifinal round in 2013. 

Villarreal made 31 appearances in all competitions in 2013 for the Galaxy, tallying three goals and one assist

06 December 5:11 pm

LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez has been featured on the cover of the latest edition of Overlap magazine. 

In addition to being placed on the cover, Gonzalez is the subject of a piece titled "The Happiest Man in Los Angeles County" is a selection of photos by New York photographer Matt Rubin

A teaser photo of Omar playing a mean air saxophone can be seen below. 

Check out the piece in its entirety as well as the rest of the magazine here.

03 December 4:35 pm

The LA Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal opponents Club Tijuana will have a new coach when they take on LA in the CCL in March. 

Club Tijuana appointed Venezuelan Cesar Farias to replace Jorge Almiron who led the Xolos to a 10th place finish in the 2013 Apertura season. Farias led Venezuela to the Copa America semifinals in 2011 after helping the nation reach the Under-20 World Cup in 2009.  Farias will begin his career with Club Tijuana on Dec. 28 with a friendly against Club America at StubHub Center.

In other news around the soccer world:

*LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan finished in third for the Futbol de Primera Player of the Year Award which was given to U.S. teammate Jozy Altidore. Michael Bradley – who was my selection for the award – finished second.

*Altidore was on hand as adidas unveiled the 2014 FIFA World Cup match ball the Brazuca. Check out the ball below and in case you're wondering, brazuca is a Brazilian term to describe the nation's way of life.