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.”
Robbie Keane on MVP: "I'm delighted to win the award, but I'd trade it in for a championship on Sunday"
LOS ANGELES -- When Robbie Keane arrived in Southern California in 2011, he made a simple yet powerful declarative statement: "I'm not coming here for a vacation."
It's pretty clear that he’s backed up those words in his three-and-a-half years with the Galaxy.
On Wednesday, Keane was named the 2014 MLS Volkswagen MVP after a stellar season that saw the Irish striker score 19 goals and 14 assists to lead an LA team that led the league in scoring. Even as Keane basked in the success of his most recent season, many focused on the forward’s great success with the club since joining the team in 2011.
Whereas previous incarnations of the Galaxy fell short of titles in 2009 and 2010, when Keane was introduced, the Galaxy pushed their way to the top, winning two straight MLS Cups in 2011 and 2012. And because of that, Galaxy boss Bruce Arena was not shy to declare Keane that Keane was missing piece that LA needed to truly contend for the league’s top prize.
“I’ve watched Robbie for years and there was always something in the back of my mind that this was the type of player that we want to get in this league and that I’d love to have on my team one day," said Arena. "We were very fortunate when we had the opportunity to get him from Tottenham.
“He sets the tone for our team every day. He’s good with the young players, he gets our team ready to play,” Arena added. “Those are things that you don’t see in the box score, but he’s that valuable for our team each and every day.”
But as you might expect from a player labeled the missing piece to a championship side, Keane’s focus is not on winning individual honors, but rather the real title that will be awarded on Sunday.
"It's great to be recognized by your fellow professionals and the media. I'm delighted with the award, but I'd certainly trade it in for a championship on Sunday," said Keane. "These awards mean something, I'd be a fool if I said that it didn't, but if we didn't win the championship then it wouldn't mean that much to me. If we win, it'll cap off a great year for me and for our team."
Everyone knows about Landon Donovan's famous habit of kissing his wrists before each penalty, but there is another ritual that the LA Galaxy and U.S. National Team star is infamous for that takes place before each and every game.
Since joining the Galaxy, Donovan has preformed the ritual -- which he claims isn't necessary, but has been performed in every game since 2005 -- which involves him taking a drink of water from a Gatorade bottle before spraying both head athletic trainer Ivan Pierra and assistant athletic trainer Kurt Andrews in the face.
"It kind of gets the training staff a little bit fired up and prepared for the game and hopefully makes them feel a little bit part of what's going on," Donovan told the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter. "They're a part of what we do, and we want to make them feel involved."
Added Andrews, " "It's a bond, We as a staff spend a lot of time with him. I could see it as an honor, for sure."
The complete story on Landon Donovan's pregame ritual can be found here on the Los Angeles Times website.
Robbie Keane says Gyasi Zardes must get back to basics if he's going to score against Seattle Sounders FC
CARSON, Calif. – Gyasi Zardes took MLS by storm with 16 goals in his second season with the LA Galaxy, but since finding the back of the net on Sept. 28, the forward has been silent.
Recently, Zardes has seen his amount of chances dwindle from an average of just over a shot on goal per game after the New York Red Bulls match to just two chances in the entirety of his six-game scoring drought.
Although the 23-year-old forward has failed to bury his chances as of late, his strike partner, Galaxy captain Robbie Keane says Zardes must get back to basics if he’s going to find the back of the net against Seattle Sounders FC this weekend.
“He has to get back to understanding what got him here in the first place. The most important thing that he has to understand is to be a team player first. If you’re a team player first then everything else will take care of itself,” Keane said after training earlier this week. “He needs to get back to what he’s good at, which is getting behind the defense and creating opportunities. But when he gets those opportunities then he has to take them and in the last few games, he hasn’t. He needs to get back to that.
“Like any striker, you always go through stages where you don’t score and it plays in your mind. The most important thing is that he has to get that out of his head fairly quickly, because when you’re going into games thinking that you haven’t scored for a while, it’ll work against you. One thing that I would say is that when you get an opportunity, rather than be clever and try to place it, sometimes just put your foot through and try to smash it. Usually that has worked for me over the years when I haven’t scored in a few games.”
To his credit, Zardes agrees that if he’s going to find the back of the net in LA’s Western Conference Championship series, he has to be sharper in front of the net
“To be honest, I’m working extremely hard and there are numerous opportunities, but I'm just going to keep doing the same things that I've been doing. I've been unlucky, but the [chances] are there,” said Zardes. “I just think that I have to get on the end of crosses because if you look at my goals, they typically come with solid link-up play with Robbie.”