LA Galaxy's Bruce Arena and James Riley weigh in on MLS opening up the season with replacement referees
CARSON, Calif. – MLS will begin the 2014 MLS Regular Season without its usual referee crews as replacements will be taking over the officiating duties for opening weekend.
On Friday, the Professional Referee Organization announced that it will lock out its officials after the Professional Soccer Referees Association had rejected a no strike/no lockout agreement. Negotiations have been ongoing between the two sides for several months as they seek to reach their first Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, like all other teams playing in opening weekend, will be affected as they saw their referee assignment changed from 2012 MLS Referee of the Year Silviu Petrescu to veteran CONCACAF official Javier Santos. A member of FIFA Puerto Rico, the Colombian official was an official during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2013 CONCACAF U-20 World Cup Qualifying tournament in Mexico. Santos has also gained substantial experience in the CONCACAF Champions League in the last three years, officiating over eight CONCACAF Champions League matches and even served as the fourth official for LA’s 4-0 loss to Isidro Metapán in CCL group play last year.
Although the men in the yellow shirts will be different, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena believes that his team and the rest of the clubs in MLS are prepared for the replacement officials.
“We’ve been aware of it. The referee is going to be the same for both teams. Hopefully they’re all prepared to do their job and we get on with it,” said Arena. “In all fairness, players have to adjust more than the referee. The referee is going to have a style of play and he’s not going to be fully informed on the qualities of MLS. He’s going to referee the way that he’s always refereed and we’re going to have to adjust quickly.”
Veteran defender James Riley, who is expected to start on the left side of defense on Saturday, agrees.
“We just have to control what we can control and not worry about who is assigned to the game, but just go out and do what we can do,” said Riley. “The cadence and rhythm are a bit different. He may call things a bit differently, but I’m sure that he’ll get direction on how the game should be called and he’ll use his ability to do so. We won’t think too much about it and just hope that there is a speedy resolution.
“I think the referees overall do a fantastic job and that’s a very difficult position,” Riley continued. “They’ve been criticized a lot over the years since I’ve been in the league. We know that they’re an integral part of this game and we want it to get better. We want the overall product both on and off the field to get better and they have a significant role in that. We as players support a quick resolution, but the season is going to go on and that’s the reality of it.”
It's MLS preview season and the latest of interest is this funny -- and informative -- exchange between Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman for their "Big Head Red Head" feature on ESPNFC.com.
Check it out below.
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy defeated LA Galaxy II 3-0 in the first-annual “White vs. Blue” game on Saturday evening.
Below are a few notes from the match.
The Galaxy should have the services of starting goalkeeper Jaime Penedo ahead of the final two weeks of preseason. Penedo, who appeared in LA’s first four matches this preseason, has not appeared for LA since their closed-door scrimmage with Pumas UNAM on Feb. 11 in Mexico. Following the victory over Galaxy II, Arena gave Penedo the all-clear to train in the next couple of weeks.
“He’s going to be fine over the next couple of weeks. He’s ready to go,” said Arena.
LA should also have the services of Stefan Ishizaki who was reduced to a substitute’s role against Galaxy II. The Swede was left off the roster entirely in Wednesday’s victory over UCLA.
“He is doing well,” Arena said. “We have to push him as he is behind fitness wise, but we are going to get him going.”
Arena also mentioned to a yet-to-be finalized match remaining on the preseason docket. According to reports, LA will face Minnesota United at some point next week.
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
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.”
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy will take on the San Jose Earthquakes for the first time in 2014 on Feb. 15 in Fresno’s Chukchansi Park for the inaugural Central California Cup.
The match is LA’s first preseason fixture in Fresno since 2007 when the Galaxy defeated the Fresno Fuego 4-0. LA's match against San Jose is their second announced preseason game as they will take on Armenian champions FC Shirak on Feb. 8 at StubHub Center.
According to ESPN FC's Jeffrey Carisle, Chivas USA is targeting current LA Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo for their head coaching vacancy.
Carisle cites multiple sources stating that Onalfo is Chivas' first choice for the job should he get a full commitment from the Rojiblancos' organization. The ESPN FC writer also notes, however, that Onalfo would stay with the Galaxy if he is unble to get the Chivas USA gig. In addition to his role as assistant, he's also led the Galaxy reserve league team to back to back West Division titles.
The report comes amid another report in the Miami Herald stating that Kenny Arena is returning to the Galaxy from the head coaching job at Florida International University.
MLS and adidas unveiled the 2014 Match Ball on Sunday.
The 2014 adidas MLS Match Ball which is based on the "Brazuca," the official ball for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. According to MLS, the colors are meant to represent "a heart, as the ball is the heart of the soccer and MLS."
What are your thoughts on the new MLS match ball?
The LA Galaxy are going to have a chance to get revenge for their stunning Western Conference Semifinal defeat to MLS Cup finalist Real Salt Lake right off the bat in 2014.
LA will open the season on March 8 at StubHub Center against 2013 MLS Cup finalist Real Salt Lake before hosting D.C. United on March 15. Both matches are likely to be sandwiched inbetween LA's CONCACAF Champions League participation. The Galaxy will play four of their first five matches at StubHub Center -- three of them being home matches as LA take on Chivas USA in the first SuperClasico on April 6 -- with their first road match being a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium to face RSL on March 22 which will be Salt Lake's home opener.
MLS will take a two-week break during the group phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup with the last matches before the break taking place on June 11.
Thoughts on the schedule?
Share it below.