CARSON, Calif. – Brazilian center back Leonardo is no strange to scorn from LA Galaxy fans, but in 2014, the defender made major strides that may see him start 2015 as the principal partner beside Omar Gonzalez.
Free of the injury issues that plagued him during his first four seasons with the club, Leonardo became a regular in Bruce Arena’s lineup as the Brazilian made 24 appearances and 20 starts—each of which were career-highs. Leonardo also added a goal which was his first tally since the 2011 campaign.
Although Leonardo struggled at times—LA’s CONCACAF Champions League second leg against Club Tijuana was a particularly difficult game—the Brazilian defender showed steady improvement over the course of the season. During the last three months of the team’s campaign in particular, Leonardo blossomed into one of the team’s finest defenders as his physicality and passing ability were vital to LA’s postseason campaign. In addition to his ability to shut down opposing offenses, Leonardo also developed a tendency to push forward into the attack to give the team numbers on set pieces.
Next season, the onus will be on the frequently maligned central defender to stake a claim as Bruce Arena’s primary option alongside Omar Gonzalez in the middle of the back four. To do so, he must continue to be the steady defender of the final months of the season and minimize the mistakes that were apparent at the start of the season.
How would you rate Leonardo’s 2014 season? Read my review of the defenders on LAGalaxy.com and rate his season in the poll and comment section below.
CARSON, Calif. – From the last player signed at preseason to a valuable member of a team in the midst of a run to MLS Cup, Dan Gargan’s 2014 season certainly went better than any expected.
In 2014, Gargan set career-highs in appearances (29), starts (27) minutes played (2400), and assists (five) after being signed on Bruce Arena’s final addition after preseason. Gargan was also a regular during the postseason as he appeared in all five of the Galaxy’s matches, including coming on as a substitute during the extra time of LA’s MLS Cup victory.
During LA’s run to their fifth MLS Cup title, Gargan was a fixture along the right side of defense—while also occasionally filling in at left back—providing steady defense while also using his speed down the flank to aid in the Galaxy counterattack. But what Gargan does for an encore next season remains to be seen.
In MLS, outside back depth is always an asset and with players like Todd Dunivant another year older, Gargan will have every opportunity to fill along both sides of the flank. However much of where Gargan plays relies on the makeup of the back line: if Arena opts for a center back tandem that includes A.J. DeLaGarza at center back, Gargan will likely have more opportunities to play, but if the LA Galaxy defender of the year is moved out wide, the 32-year-old will likely be used as a depth option.
How would you rate Dan Gargan’s 2014 campaign. Read my review of the Galaxy's defenders while also voting and commenting in the section below.
Retired LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan received a lifetime achievement award from Univision during their Premios Unvision Deportes which aired on Thursday night.
A visibly emotional Donovan was presented the award by MLS commissioner Don Garber while presenters Ivan Kasanzew and Enrique “Perro” Bermudez showed Donovan a video of fans from across the country thanking him for his soccer exploits. The MLS and U.S. Soccer scoring leader then went on to give a speech in which he thanked several including the kids that he grew up playing soccer with who helped inspire him to learn Spanish.
Although the video is entirely in Spanish, it's worth a watch given how emotional Donovan became at receiving such a distinct honor.
Check it out above.
CARSON, Calif. – Brian Rowe began his tenure on the LA Galaxy as a third goalkeeper but in his second full season with the club, he’s solidified a place as the club’s number two net minder.
Rowe saw limited action for the Galaxy in 2014, only making three appearances and compiling a 1-0-2 record while top choice Jaime Penedo was away at the 2014 Copa CentroAmericana, but when he did step in goal, he performed ably. In his three appearances, Rowe maintained one shutout—the very first of his Galaxy career—and showed himself able to make clutch saves when needed as he moved ahead of former No. 2 Brian Perk who dealt with concussion injuries for much of the year.
Heading into next season, Rowe will likely have every opportunity to further solidify his position and possibly create competition with Penedo as the Panamanian netminder takes part in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. A solid performance in these games will only aid the emerging goalkeeper in his quest to lock down a top job with the club.
In addition to these games with the first team, Rowe is also expected to be a candidate to suit up for Galaxy II on a regular basis as Los Dos are currently without any ‘keepers on their roster at the moment. These games will only serve to provide confidence for the talented young goalkeeper who has impressed in his brief time with the club.
How would you rate Rowe’s performance in 2014? Read my review of the goalkeepers on LAGalaxy.com and provide him with your own personal rating below.
After enduring a year of heartbreak and failure for both club and country, Jaime Penedo finally got over the hump and ended the 2014 campaign with a championship.
Brought in as a savior for the LA Galaxy’s goalkeeping situation midway through the 2013 campaign, Penedo suffered a pair of setbacks in successive fashion as Panama failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and a month later LA were bounced from the postseason in the opening round.
Such disappointments stuck in the craw of the happy-go-lucky Panamanian goalkeeper heading into the 2014 season and he responded with aplomb.
During the regular season, Penedo enjoyed a 1.14 goals against average—.01 behind Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Hamid—while also making eight shutouts as he carried LA to the league’s second best record. In the playoffs, he shook off any claims that he could not come up in big games with stellar performances in LA’s series against Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC, the former which included a six save showing in the first leg.
In the MLS Cup final against New England, Penedo put forth yet another strong showing with six saves against the Revs to seal his first professional title since winning a title in Guatemala with Municipal. After years of frustration with Panama and his club teams, to win a title after such a trying season proved to be a “dream come true” for Penedo.
"It is a great blessing and a joy," Penedo told reporters after winning the title. “I dedicate this to dear God, my faith, my family, and my country.”
How would you rate Penedo's 2014? Read my review of the Galaxy goalkeepers for LAGalaxy.com and vote below.
Veterans Todd Dunivant, Dan Gargan and Alan Gordon highlight LA Galaxy unprotected list for Expansion Draft
CARSON, Calif. -- The champagne was hardly cleaned from the LA Galaxy locker room, before the pace of MLS moved the club's celebration to the background.
On Monday, the Galaxy and the rest of the league's 20 teams released their protected lists for the upcoming MLS expansion draft on Dec. 10. Orlando City SC and New York City FC will plenty to choose from the Galaxy's roster as head coach Bruce Arena opted to leave veterans Todd Dunivant, Dan Gargan and Alan Gordon unprotected as well as several LA Galaxy II mainstays like Rafael Garcia and Charlie Rugg.
Remember, the Galaxy can lose up to two players, but will have the opportunity to protect one from their list if a player is selected.
The complete list of players available, the protected list and the exempt list are below.
CARSON, Calif. -- Joy. Passion. Glory.
The LA Galaxy felt it all as they won their fifth MLS Cup with a 2-1 extra time victory over the New England Revolution. LAGalaxy.com videographer Albert Lanzillo put a fantastic video of the Galaxy's post game celebration.
Check it out above.
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena on New England Revolution boss Jay Heaps: "He's an outstanding coach"
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena will be the elder statesman on Sunday when he takes on fourth-year New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps.
On paper, the gap in experience between the pair could not be more different.
Arena, a four time MLS Cup champion, will be coaching in his seventh final while Heaps will lead the Revs for the very first time. Although there is a considerable experience gap between the two head coaches, Arena admires the growth that Heaps has shown in four years of coaching the Revolution.
"He's a person that I recruited at the University of Virgina, but he chose to go to Duke, so I hold that against him a little bit. He was a great athlete in both soccer and basketball, and he played for one of the great basketball coaches in Mike Krzyzewski and he was a big influence in coaching career. He put in a great shift with the Revs and became an understudy then went into coaching. He got help from Mike and other coaches and in a few years, he's become an outstanding coach.
"He's a work horse who puts in a lot of hours, he's very dedicated, very bright and obviously very good."
CARSON, Calif. -- The clock is ticking and MLS Cup is fast approaching
The sun was back out at LA Galaxy training as the team continued their preparation for Sunday's MLS Cup Final against the New England Revolution. Stopping the Revolution will be no easy task, considering New England enjoyed so much success as they progressed through the Eastern Conference, but LA are confident that they can shutdown the Revs attack.
"We're going to do what we did all year and go with that," said Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza. "But that being said, I think that Charlie Davies is on fire right now in the playoffs and we're facing a team that has scored a bunch of away goals in this playoffs. We know that they're not going to sit back. We need to get on the front foot and get after them early."
Bruce Arena says that LA Galaxy win over New England Revolution in July means nothing heading into MLS Cup
CARSON, Calif. – Earlier this season, the LA Galaxy flattened their MLS Cup opponents the New England Revolution 5-1 at StubHub Center, but don’t look for that game to affect the way either team approaches Sunday’s championship match.
On July 16, LA were in control from the get go and were aided by an early red card by AJ Soares as Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes each scored a pair of goals while Stefan Ishizaki rounded out the scoring for the Galaxy. MLS MVP finalist Lee Nguyen scored the only goal of the evening for the Revs on a penalty kick goal that saw Galaxy right back Dan Gargan sent off.
While LA ran rampant that evening, the teams that will face one another are remarkably different (look at the lineups here).
In particular, that incarnation of the Revolution was mired in an eight game winless streak and was still a month from acquiring Designated Player Jermaine Jones, who has proven key to New England’s drive to MLS Cup. But LA will be dramatically different as well as Bruce Arena famously benched Landon Donovan for the match against New England only to insert the longtime U.S. international at halftime.
“Both teams are different. If you look at the lineups those days, they won’t look anything like Sunday," said Arena on Thursday. "They’re probably going to have three or four different players on the field and we’ll likely have four or five different players on the field. Davies is a fixture now, so there are changes. That game means nothing; it’s in the archives now.”