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15 February 2:23 pm

FRESNO, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy will take on their archrival San Jose Earthquakes in the Central California Cup on Saturday at Chukchansi Park in Fresno. 

Remember you can watch Saturday's match by going to LAGalaxy.com/Live

Below are a series of links, notes, matchups to watch and even a projected Galaxy lineup. 

LINKS AND NOTES

*Saturday's Central California Cup is receiving a lot of publicity in Fresno almost 10,000 tickets sold for the match. Even the local mayor of Fresno is getting into the act, declaring Saturday "MLS Day" in the city

*CONCACAF.com's Robert Jonas provides an Earthquakes-centric preview of tonight's match

*Robbie Keane is not expected to travel with the team to Fresno as he continues to return from achillies surgery. The Irishman trained with LA Galaxy II and told reporters earlier this week that he's aiming to return for either LA's closed-door scrimmage against UCLA or the "White vs. Blue Game" on Saturday against Galaxy II.

*With just two preseason games remaining after Saturday, keep an eye on right back trialists Matheau Hall, Dan Gargan and James Riley as they fight for a spot on LA's 2014 roster.  

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Omar Gonzalez vs. Steven Lenhart

Always the most exciting battle when these two teams tussle, due to their contentious battle in the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs, expect another physical clash between the cagey Quakes striker and the physical center back. Even though the match is a preseason contest, look for a few hard fouls on both sides as Lenhart looks to test Gonzalez. 

Rob Friend vs. Victor Bernardez

Friend has been by far the most impressive Galaxy attacker this preseason, but he'll have his hands full when he seeks to break through the equally burly Victor Bernardez. Look for Friend and fellow strike partner Samuel to lure the Quakes defense out of position and create space for the likes Landon Donovan and Stefan Ishizaki. 

Marcelo Sarvas vs. Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi

For two teams that have had a number of intense battles over the last two years, Pierazzi will be a relatively unknown quantity for the Galaxy on Saturday. A central midfielder who will look to distruibte the ball up field, expect the industrious Sarvas to pressure the Frenchman early and distrupt the Quakes passing lanes. 

PROJECTED LINEUP:

Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Opare, Cochrane; Ishizaki, Sarvas, Husidic, Donovan; Samuel, Friend

15 February 12:46 pm

When the LA Galaxy take on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening, you'll be able to watch the Central California Cup on LAGalaxy.com.

Watch the game tonight at LAGalaxy.com/Live

14 February 12:12 am

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.” 

12 February 4:53 pm

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.”

12 February 4:35 pm

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

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Planning to head up to Fresno? Love that the video appears to have Galaxy clips from 2010?

Share your thoughts below. 

11 February 5:14 pm

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.” 

05 February 2:52 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy battled to a 2-2 draw with cross-hall rivals Chivas USA in a preseason scrimmage on Wednesday.

The Galaxy were dominant in the first half and needed just five minutes to pull ahead when Rob Friend finished a side-footed volley off a Juninho free kick. The Brazilian midfielder scored a goal of his own in the 20th minute after finishing a brilliant strike from beyond 25-yards that curled past the Chivas USA goalkeeper.

However, in the second half, Chivas USA was able to capitalize on a Galaxy lineup that went through a near complete change at the half and was totally different 10 minutes into the second stanza. Chivas leveled the score in the 72nd minute with a finish by Jacob Barron before equalizing less than 10 minutes later after Matthew Fondy buried a header past Brian Perk.

The result may not have been ideal, but Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena affirmed that it was simply part of the process of getting the team ready for their MLS season opener which is a little more than a month away.

 “It was just another day of practice in all honesty. It was about getting guys in a full field situation,” said Arena. “The group we played in the first half did a good job of pressuring and creating some chances while the group in the second half was definitely outplayed and it was a sloppy performance.” 

LA Galaxy Starting XI First Half: Penedo; Hall, DeLaGarza, Opare, Cochrane; Ishizaki, Husidic, Juninho, Zardes; Friend, Samuel

LA Galaxy Starting XI Second Half: Perk; Sorto, Leonardo, Venter, Gaul; Jamieson IV, Sarvas, Garcia, Hoffman; Rugg, McBean

LA Galaxy XI at the Final Whistle: Perk; Sorto, Leonardo, Venter, Gaul; Mendiola, Sarvas, Garcia, Hoffman; Rugg, McBean

31 January 6:37 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez is growing into his own as a member of the U.S. National Team, but according to U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, he’s still got plenty of work to do before this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Gonzalez was named to the U.S. squad earlier this month after solidifying his place on the national team with 14 appearances in 2013. During his formative year with the squad, Gonzalez formed a solid partnership with Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler that Klinsmann himself sees as a center back pairing for the future.

“From a coaches’ perspective, you want to see a development of players: over a season and across a number of years. With Matt and Omar, you’ve seen them mature,” said Klinsmann in his final press conference before the Americans’ match against Korea Republic on Saturday. “They’ve become calmer; they’ve become more responsible and have really grown into their own feet.”

But due to the duo’s relative inexperience, the job is hardly finished.

In particular, Klinsmann wants to see much better possession from his defenders and prevent the type of reliance on long balls up field that had been a staple of U.S. teams in years past.  

“Their biggest challenge is to be ahead of things and to be alert while not allowing mistakes because mistakes at an international level will be punished, and the team will go home,” said Klinsmann. “This is something that we tell every position but especially on the back line because you can’t make mistakes at an international level. You have to be on top of your game for 90 minutes and not make passing mistakes in the defensive area because the transition is going to happen so quickly from those teams that we’ll be facing this year.

“We don’t want to see balls played long because [they] don’t know what to do and [they’re] getting closed down, we want them to stay calm and find the solution.”