HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. –Rob Friend is hanging up his boots.
The little-used Canadian forward announced his retirement on Monday at the club’s MLS Cup championship rally in Hermosa Beach. Friend made just 12 appearances for the Galaxy in all competitions while tallying just one assist for the club after joining in January.
Friend’s injury troubles began in July following the club’s friendly with Manchester United in what he described as a “freak accident” that occurred when a ball struck him in the forehead during training when he wasn’t looking. Since the injury, which he believes was only made worse due to repeated head injuries during his decade-long career; Friend has tried to make a recovery, but fallen short each time.
“I made a few attempts at a comeback, but it’s my body telling me that I’ve taken one too many hits to the head. I’m still struggling with a few symptoms and a lot of headaches. It’s a combination of that it is not worth it to maybe take one more hit,” Friend said. “I have to make that decision for myself and my family. I have hopefully a very long life ahead of me and I need to be a good father and a good husband to take care of my family. I don’t ever want to go through what I’ve been through with this concussion again.”
Although the decision seemed inevitable given his inability to return to the field, the striker admitted that he didn’t come to decision lightly as he saw specialists across North America as he considered returning to the game. But despite the bittersweet ending to this chapter in his life, Friend still admits that he can hold his head up high given his success across Europe throughout his career.
“It’s unfortunate. I wish the fans and the organization could have seen me at my best,” said Friend. “I’ll always take pride in my work ethic and attitude. I wasn’t a fancy player but I think that I have a lot of respect from every player and organization. I had a lot of highs especially playing in the Bundesliga and coming from a small town in Canada, I had a lot against me and I succeeded.”
As for what’s next for the newly retired Friend, the 33-year-old now hopes to move into the business of soccer in some respect which is fitting for the Canadian who holds a degree in Business Economics from U.C. Santa Barbara.
One avenue that may be worth exploring for Friend if he is up for consideration is with the Canadian Soccer Association, a group that the former national team forward believes needs considerable reforms.
“I would love to change the entire dynamic of the Canadian Soccer Association. We’re 20 years behind the U.S. and I think there is a lot of ideas and tips that we can take from them. We’re just too far behind and it takes guys who have been outside of Canada and made it around the world to change the mentality and the system. It takes a lot of work and not one man is going to change it, but I would love to help out.”
CARSON, Calif. -- The moment that will live on in LA Galaxy history forever.
In the 111th minute, Robbie Keane scored an MLS Cup winning goal with his clever finish off a pinpoint pass from Marcelo Sarvas which sealed the LA Galaxy's 2-1 Extra Time victory over the New England Revolution and their fifth MLS Cup. Now you can enjoy the goal in slow motion courtesy of the folks at MLSsoccer.com.
Check it out above.
CARSON, Calif. -- Time and time again, the LA Galaxy faced considerable challenges during their 2014 season and more often than not, it was their captain Robbie Keane who bailed them out.
Keane did so again in an impressive fashion with his extra time tally that gave the Galaxy a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution in MLS Cup. Although the Irishman endured a frustrating game to that point, his finish past Bobby Shuttlesworth late in the game proved once more than the MLS MVP was the true class of the league.
“It wasn’t the greatest game to be honest with you. It was tough, New England played really well. I have to give them a lot of credit," Keane told reporters afterward. "We went 120 minutes and in the end it’s whichever team pulls out stronger. I think we certainly came out stronger in extra time. We’re thankful that we got the goal. It was a great pass from Marcelo [Sarvas].”
The goal capped what was the finest season in Keane's illustrious career: Over the course of 34 games in the regular season and playoffs, Keane notched 21 goals and 17 assists in his highest output for one team ever.
And after the game, you could forgive LA for singing the praises of their Irish captain.
"Keane is a guy that you want on your team because he's always going to give it his everything. There's no other way that Robbie knows," said Omar Gonzalez. "It wasn't going our way, but we found a way to win. We stayed composed and waited for our chances and we did that. Robbie had a few chances that he wanted back, but he made sure when the time came that he put his final chance in the back of the net. Now we're champions."
Added head coach Bruce Arena, "Robbie is been unbelievable since he stepped foot in MLS. I’ve been on record, I’ve said this, it’s very rare that an international player can step into this league, be adjusted instantly and not explain to us how you are supposed to do things and how it’s done elsewhere. I’ve never heard one “this is how they do it at Liverpool or Tottenham.” He’s bought into Major League Soccer from the start. He’s our greatest advocate. It’s been fabulous. Look of what we’ve done since we’ve acquired Robbie. Is it his team? Naw, its Mr. Anschutz's team to be honest, but he’s pretty big asset.”
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) December 7, 2014
CARSON, Calif. -- It was an emotional week for Dan Gargan.
Not only did the defender win his first ever MLS Cup and help marshall the LA Galaxy defense to a victory, but he had his first child on Wednesday. Following the MLS Cup victory, Gargan, who was the final player signed during preseason, reflected on his wild week.
"It’s been an incredible year. I haven’t quite processed it all yet, it’s a beautiful thing. I’ve had an amazing week," said Gargan. "My wife gave birth to our first child, a girl, on Wednesday afternoon and I think I’ve slept a total of seven hours since then. That’s not an exaggeration. I can’t imagine it’s going to add to that total tonight, but we’re going to re-evaluate that tomorrow."
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena addressed the media following the Galaxy's 2-1 extra time victory over the New England Revolution in MLS Cup 2014.
Arena's thoughts are below...
(On Robbie Keane...)
ARENA: I don’t know whose team it is, but it’s nice to have him on the team. Robbie is been unbelievable since he stepped foot in MLS. I’ve been on record, I’ve said this, it’s very rare that an international player can step into this league, be adjusted instantly and not explain to us how you are supposed to do things and how it’s done elsewhere. I’ve never heard one “this is how they do it at Liverpool or Tottenham.” He’s bought into Major League Soccer from the start. He’s our greatest advocate. It’s been fabulous. Look of what we’ve done since we’ve acquired Robbie. Is it his team? Naw, its Mr. Anchutz team to be honest, but he’s pretty big asset.
(On the half time switch between Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes...)
ARENA: Robbie Keane suggested it at half time. He should probably be the player-manager of this team. We had of loose balls, but probably needed to be a little bit cleaner in the final third with our passing, our runs. Moving Landon there suggested we could be a little bit better there. Having said that, Gyasi was very good playing in the midfield. The change helped us. One would think if the game ended 1-0, maybe we’d say “eh, the game was nothing great.” But for us to get pushed like, it’s only right, and to see that we had the determination to win it out was tremendous. Again, got to give New England a lot of credit. They came in here with a plan. They are a determined, competitive group. Jermaine Jones is a real leader. It was a good battle. Maybe not the greatest game, but there was some drama involved. Maybe that’s good as well.
CARSON, Calif. -- The day is finally here.
In the latest edition of "What To Watch For," Joe Tutino and Cobi Jones break down the MLS Cup Final between the LA Galaxy and New England Revolution
Check it out above.
CARSON, Calif. -- In the latest edition of my Insider Breakdown for Galaxy TV, I break down the LA Galaxy's match with the New England Revolution.
In the video, I take a look whether Landon Donovan will get his Hollywood ending and finish his career as an MLS Cup champion.
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. -- Landon Donovan went through his final training session as a professional athlete on Saturday as the LA Galaxy went through their final preparations for Sunday's MLS Cup Final against the New England Revolution at StubHub Center.
Photos from Donovan's final training session are below.