MLS Cup

07 January 7:57 pm

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena spoke to reporters on Wednesday to discuss the club’s newest Designated Player signing of Liverpool FC midfielder Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard will remain with Liverpool until the end of their season and will be eligible to play when the league’s transfer window opens in mid-January.

Arena’s complete comments from the conference call can be found below.

(On how the Galaxy intend to rotate their midfield around Gerrard…)

ARENA: I’m not spending a whole lot of time on that right now. We have seven months or so until Stevie arrives here in Los Angeles, and we’re going to play out the process of our team, see how it moves forward, and see how we’re ready to utilize Stevie once he gets here.

(On how Gerrard relates to other European arrivals to MLS like Beckham and Keane…)

ARENA: I think that they have proven track records. They’re winners, they’re great people, they’ve been terrific leaders on their clubs previous to coming to the Galaxy, and their qualities speak for themselves. Stevie has the characteristics of David Beckham and Robbie Keane, he’s a terrific players, he’s of great character, a great teammate and a great leader, so I think he’ll complement our team in a very positive way.

(On Gerrard’s versatility in the midfield…)

ARENA: In my observation of Stevie over the years, he’s not only been a central midfielder, he’s played a little bit shaded to the left or right underneath the strikers, so he can play a variety of positions in midfield. My guess is we’ll play him closer to the forwards than our center backs. He’s a player obviously with very good attacking qualities and we want to get him pushed as close to goal as we can, when we can. So I think we can accommodate that through a variety of positions. It’ll take a little bit of time, but we’ll get it figured out by the time that Stevie arrives.

(On the criticism that Gerrard receives for being unable to track back…)

ARENA:  Steven Gerrard is a great player. He played in the 2014 World Cup, he plays for one of the top clubs in England… He’s got great experience, great understanding of the game; he’s quite capable of playing on both sides of the ball. I believe he’ll be a very good player for us in MLS.C

(On if Arena will manage Gerrard’s minutes…)

ARENA:  I will manage his minutes. I’m going to try to get him on the field as much as possible.

(On the process to sign Gerrard…)

ARENA: First of all, I think Stevie did his homework, he was well aware of MLS and the Galaxy. He’s been here a couple of times, obviously with Liverpool, so he knew Southern California and L..A. He understands MLS, so there weren’t a whole lot of questions and he’s obviously been aware of Beckham and Keane at the Galaxy. But on and off over the years, Stevie’s always been a name that we’ve examined as a potential player to come to the Galaxy, and obviously over the recent months we’ve obviously pursued the player… Over the last two or three weeks, things came together pretty quickly.

(On if the Galaxy had other options…)

ARENA: We were looking at three or four players over the last three or four months, and obviously, Stevie was there all along. I would say that I thought it was going to be a longshot to acquire Stevie, but as we got closer to the year, interest on both parties picked up, and we were very fortunate to be able to secure a deal.

 (On how Keane and Gerrard will combine…)

ARENA: They’re two outstanding players. They’ve played together before, they know each other, and I think in a short period of time they’re going to be able to have a great understanding of each other, and I’m quite confident that we’ll see they’re going to be able to help create chances for the LA Galaxy.

(On Robbie Keane’s input in the Gerrard signing…)

ARENA: To be honest with you, I have not spoken to Robbie Keane about this. Maybe a month or so ago, I let him know we were talking with Stevie, but we didn’t talk about how he fit in with the team and everything else. I just acknowledged the fact that Stevie was a player that we had an interest in.

02 January 12:45 pm

Stefan Ishizaki was heralded as a potential third attacking weapon in the LA Galaxy attack when he was signed last offseason, and while the Swede never truly blossomed into that type of offensive asset, he still put forth a strong season as he helped LA to a championship.

Appearing in all but four games during the entirety of the Galaxy’s MLS slate, Ishizaki’s ball skills played an important role in helping create the Galaxy’s possession-oriented offense that tallied a league-leading 69 goals in 2014. Ishizaki’s abilities led the Galaxy to trot the Swede out at the top of a midfield diamond early on in the season before he transitioned to a steady role as an attacking option along the left side of midfield as LA pushed toward their trophy. In total, Ishizaki ended the season with five goals and eight assists in all league competition in his first full season

With Landon Donovan gone, Ishizaki is among several will need to shoulder the burden left by the retiring U.S. soccer star during the 2015 season. If Ishizaki can truly become a true offensive weapon alongside Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, the Galaxy will have every opportunity to retain their MLS Cup title.

How would you rate Ishizaki’s 2014 campaign? Read my review of the LA Galaxy midfielders on LAGalaxy.com while also voting and commenting below. 

31 December 3:48 pm

In a season when he flourished doing the little things to keep his team going, LA Galaxy midfielder Juninho’s 2014 season will undoubtedly be remembered for one massive moment.

For the entirety of LA’s championship winning campaign, Juninho was the team’s most consistent player with a team-high 43 appearances in all competitions—40 of which were starts. During that time, Juninho formed the spine of the league’s finest midfield alongside fellow Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas while notching five assists in all league competitions as well as one truly immense goal that helped LA reach MLS Cup by eliminating Seattle Sounders FC in the Western Conference Championship.

After a season of being used primarily in a defensive capacity, Juninho is likely to resume this role with the Galaxy aim for a sixth title in March. However, head coach Bruce Arena will undoubtedly want more offensive production from the influential Brazilian as his 2014 offensive output was his lowest since his first season in Major League Soccer back in 2010.

How would you rate Juninho’s 2014 performance? Read my review of the LA midfielders on LAGalaxy.com while also voting and commenting below. 

30 December 3:26 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Truly the engine that helped the LA Galaxy run, Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas enjoyed his best season to date as he played an irreplaceable part in the team’s run to an MLS Cup title.  

An indomitable force in the center of the park, Sarvas’ displayed a tendency to only thwart opposition attacks with his ball-winning ability, but was also a key asset to the team’s attack as he notched  five goals and 13 assists in all MLS competitions.  Sarvas’ most crucial assist came in extra time during MLS Cup when he delivered a pinpoint ball over the top to Robbie Keane for the championship-clinching goal.  

Sarvas and his midfield partner Juninho will not doubt have every opportunity to build upon a campaign that saw them crowned the preeminent midfield tandem in Major League Soccer. Once again, Galaxy boss Bruce Arena is expected to call upon Sarvas to provide the offensive output with his timely ability to cover ground while Juninho holds it all together. If this pair can be successful once more, there’s no reason that LA won’t contend for yet another title.

How would you rate Marcelo Sarvas’ 2014 season? Read my review of the Galaxy midfielders on LAGalaxy.com while also commenting and voting below. 

29 December 6:39 pm

CARSON, Calif. – No member of the LA Galaxy showed more growth and progress in 2015 than outside back Robbie Rogers.

In 2013, Rogers struggled with injuries en route to a disappointing season while also dealing with the scrutiny of being the first openly gay professional athlete in a major American sport. A year later, the story was far different for the 26-year-old as Rogers settled into a new role as the club’s left back amid injuries to veteran options Todd Dunivant and James Riley.  At the end of the season, Rogers solidified himself as one of the finest left backs in MLS as he was a vital part in the LA Galaxy’s MLS Cup winning squad with 24 appearances in all MLS competitions with three assists.

As important as 2014 was for the defender, 2015 could be even bigger for Rogers as he looks to not further his development as an outside back, but also continue his push for a place on the U.S. National Team. With Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad needing depth at left back ahead of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in light of DaMarcus Beasley’s international retirement, Rogers may find a spot in the USMNT’s depth chart. 

How would you rate Robbie Rogers' 2014 performance? Read my review of the LA Galaxy defenders while voting and commenting below. 

27 December 7:28 pm

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.

27 December 4:46 pm

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. 

19 December 10:17 am

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.

17 December 6:37 pm

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. – After winning the first MLS Cup title of his 10-year MLS career and having his option declined days later, LA Galaxy defender James Riley is leaning toward retirement.

Reports have already stated that Riley is leaning toward retirement and sources close to the situation confirm the report to LA Galaxy Insider. Riley made just four appearances for the Galaxy in 2014 after suffering a meniscus injury in March. 

Following the club’s championship rally at the Hermosa Beach Pier last week, Riley admitted to reporters that he doesn’t “want to chase it anymore” especially if he’s not on the Galaxy next season.

“I'm 32; if I have to pack up and move all the way across country and continue to chase it and try to almost replicate what we have here, I don't want to do that,” Riley said. “Bruce [Arena] was fantastic in my exit interview, said, 'Yeah, we value you, but we have to see what happens,' and I said no problem. Obviously, they know what I contribute on the field and off the field, so it's one of those things where if it's not here then it's going to be tough for me to go to a different place.”

After his option was declined, Riley was made eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft which concludes on Thursday with stage two of the process. If Riley is not selected, he will officially become eligible to move onto any team. The 32-year-old refused to reveal that he will not take part in LA’s preseason next year, but noted that any decision remains up in the air at this point.

“We're deep in the outside-back position, to be honest with you,” Riley who previous spent time with New England, San Jose, Seattle, Chivas USA and D.C. United before joining the Galaxy in January. “Todd [Dunivant] and Robbie [Rogers] on the left, and Gargs [Dan Gargan] and A.J. [DeLaGarza], who can play on the right. And [Oscar] Sorto's a great young player, great young man, great kid.

“I've always wanted to leave on my terms and not force anything and not kind of just be pushed to the side. It's time to reflect on the game and all the relationships I've formed, what it's provided me.”

16 December 5:27 pm

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.