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.
The LA Galaxy will be heading to Europe this preseason when they take on the Republic of Ireland's Shamrock Rovers F.C. at Tallaght Stadium on Feb. 21 at 8 a.m. PT
LA's match against Rovers will see 2014 MLS MVP Robbie Keane return to his home town of Dublin -- and most specifically Tallaght -- to play Shamrock Rovers, which is the most successful professional club in Irish history. Rovers have won the League of Ireland 17 times while also winning the FAI Cup a record 24 times.
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.
CARSON, Calif. – The last two years have been frustrating for Brian Perk and now the longtime LA goalkeeper finds himself possibly searching for greener pastures after his option was declined earlier this month.
Much like the 2013 season, Perk was plagued with recurring concussion issues that rendered him unable to suit up for the Galaxy or their USL PRO affiliate Galaxy II for wide stretches. The 25-year-old ‘keeper saw only brief action for the first team as he appeared in two matches at the beginning of the year while primary starter Jaime Penedo ironed out visa issues after LA’s demise from the CONCACAF Champions League.
In his three appearances, Perk showcased the quality shot-stopping ability that has been a hallmark of his as he made held a 1-0-1 record that included a shutout of Chivas USA in March. However, concussions rendered Perk unable to build on this performance as he was inactive for much of the season, allowing Brian Rowe to seal the No. 2 spot behind Penedo. When Perk did return, he became a staple for Galaxy II appearing in five matches for the club including each of their two USL PRO playoff games.
After having his option declined, where Perk’s career goes from here remains in question. The goalkeeper is up for stage two of the MLS Re-Entry Draft on Thursday and if he is not selected, he could be eligible to sign with any club that he wishes. Although injuries forced him into limited action this season, Perk’s stellar shot stopping ability—which has drawn comparisons to RSL starter Nick Rimando— should make him a contender to lock down a job with the Galaxy or elsewhere.
How would you rate Perk’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.
The Virginia Cavaliers defeated the UCLA Bruins 4-2 in penalty shootout at WakeMed Soccer Park after a scoreless tie in the 2014 College Cup Final.
The Cavaliers opted for a defensive posture that negated the Bruins' high-power attack for 120 minutes until the match went to penalty kicks. Riggs Lennon scored the title-winning penalty kick for Virginia, which made four of five penalty kicks while the Bruins saw two of their attempts ping off the cross bar.
The title is the Cavaliers' seventh and their second in five years.
The UCLA Bruins and their heavy LA Galaxy Academy contingent will play in the NCAA College Cup final on Sunday against Virginia (9 a.m. PT on ESPNU) at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
UCLA reached the championship game after dispatching the Providence Friars with a 3-2 victory in double overtime thanks to a golden goal from defender Chase Gasper. The Bruins’ Larry Nadjock and Providence striker Mac Steeves traded goals during regulation.
Galaxy Academy graduate Brian IIoski led the LA contingent with 80 minutes played in the victory while Christian Chavez (47 minutes played), Grady Howe (76 minutes played), and Willie Raygoza (14 minutes played) each made appearances.
They'll face Virginia, who rose to soccer prominence under the leadership of Bruce Arena, who led the Cavaliers to five titles in 18 years as the team's head coach. The Cavaliers reached the final by defeating the University of Maryland-Baltimore County 1-0 earlier on Friday.
The LA Galaxy passed on making any selections in stage one of the 2014 MLS Re-Entry Draft.
Only three players were selected in the first process as former Sporting KC goalkeepers Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum were selected by Montreal Impact and San Jose Earthquakes respectively while former Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley was taken by Toronto FC.
Teams will now have a chance to regonotiate with their players made available for the Re-Entry Draft process before stage two on Dec. 18