MLS Regular Season
Is MLS on the way to Miami?
Former LA Galaxy midfielder and world soccer legend David Beckham is set to deliver a special announcement on Wednesday on the state of a potential new expansion club in Miami, Florida.
Watch the announcement in the video below and feel free to comment on the proceedings.
CARSON, Calif. – Count LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan among those praising Toronto FC’s reported capture of star U.S. National Team midfielder Michael Bradley.
Although the deal has not yet been announced by MLS or Toronto FC, the widely reported transfer was confirmed by Bradley’s Italian club A.S. Roma on Thursday. Bradley is the latest U.S. National Team standout to return to MLS or elect to stay in the league and the highest profile returnee since Seattle Sounders FC’s signing of Clint Dempsey in August.
When asked about Bradley’s reported move, Donovan admitted that the return of the 26-year-old was “great” for Toronto FC, MLS and his national team teammate.
“I think that it’s a testament to our league that people want to come back and play here particularly six months before a World Cup,” said Donovan ahead of U.S. National Team training on Thursday.” It makes a strong statement, obviously, [Tim Leiweke] made it clear to him that it was something that he wanted, and Mike is a smart guy, I’m sure that he’s thought about this a lot and it’s something that he wants to do so I think that it is great.”
If any U.S. National Team player is familiar with Bradley’s current situation, it would be Donovan who made a high-profile return to MLS from Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen in 2005 to join the Los Angeles Galaxy. Donovan then opted to extend his stay in MLS last summer when he inked a multi-year deal to stay with the Galaxy.
Although the moves of players like Bradley and Dempsey may be criticized, Donovan attests that the two players are simply “following their dreams” in a much improved MLS than the one the Galaxy forward returned to in 2005.
“The league is a lot better. The league is different because financially more stable, but in all ways, coaching is better, youth development is better, there’s more media, there’s more attention, everything is different and constantly changing,” said Donovan. “We always say that [MLS] is not where we want it to be, but when guys like Michael and Clint make decisions like that, when [Omar Gonzalez], Matt Besler, Graham Zusi make the decision to stay here when they could have gone abroad, it makes a big statement.
“The way that you make the league better is by having better players and certainly in the last six months, it has gotten two of our best [American] players back in the league.”
What do you think about the move?
Share your thoughts below.
CARSON, Calif. -- On Tuesday, the LA Galaxy made a splash adding Brazilian forward Samuel on a year-long loan from Brazilian side Fluminense.
To learn a bit more about Samuel and his background with Fluminense, I spoke to Jack Lang, a noted Brazilian soccer specialist who has written about the nation's soccer culture for many publications including ESPN, Yahoo and Eurosport.
My conversation with Lang is below.
LA Galaxy Insider: How would you describe Samuel as a player? He tallied just 15 goals in 72 games for the club over a two year period.
LANG: He's a number nine who can lead the line alone or combine with a partner. Much was expected of him after he graduated from youth football, but he hasn't yet hit the heights – as his record illustrates. He did well coming into the Fluminense side as a relative unknown in 2012, netting a few goals, but things were trickier for him in 2013. When Brazil striker Fred picked up an injury midway near the start of the Brazilian season, Samuel was thrust into the frontline and expected to perform a similar role. But he never got to grips with the job, scoring just once after May.
Admittedly he wasn't starting week-in, week-out - but that further underlines the point that he didn't manage to make the position his own. Hopefully the move to LA Galaxy will help him rediscover his confidence and form.
LAGI: During the last year, he's been linked with a number of big clubs in Spain from Espanyol to Real Madrid B, do you feel like this interest may have hindered or aided his professional development?
LANG: It probably didn't help. Brazilian youngsters often have their heads turned by European interest early in their careers, so they begin to dream big before even establishing themselves. Some knuckle down but countless others have drifted into mediocrity on a wave of misplaced ambition. I don't know whether Samuel was one of the latter group, but you'd imagine he will have been brought back to earth by his middling form in 2013.
LAGI: The scuttlebutt on Samuel is that he's been described a talented player but one limited speed wise. Is this a fair assessment?
LANG: I would say so. He's certainly got attributes that will help him plunder goals: he has good anticipation, for instance, and is great in the air. He's also a tidy finisher with both feet. But he's certainly not going to win any prizes for pure athletics; he often looks a touch leaden-footed and isn't one to speed past his marker.
LAGI: Fluminense was nearly relegated a year ago after their poor showing, what's the current state of the club at the moment?
LANG: They had a turbulent 2013, to say the least. Champions in 2012 (their second title in three years), they looked to be ushering in a bright new era on the back of funding from medical insurance giant Unimed. They had invested in proven talent (Fred, Thiago Neves, Deco) new training facilities, while coach Abel Braga was making all the right noises about building a dynasty.
But things went awry. Braga was dismissed in July after five consecutive defeats. His replacement, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, also struggled, leading the side to just seven wins in 26 games. Fred's injury didn't help, while their once-solid defence went missing too often.
They were actually relegated in the final week of the season, only to earn a controversial reprieve in the courtroom. It turned out that Portuguesa had fielded an ineligible player in their last game, and the Brazilians sports tribunal saw fit to dock them just enough points to save Flu's skin. They may have retained their top-flight status, but the side Samuel is leaving behind is unlikely to be too popular among neutrals for the foreseeable future.
LAGI: Several Brazilian players are currently flourishing in MLS, what's the perception of the league in Brazil and the U.S. National Team?
LANG: It's still viewed as something of a novelty by some – a league with the financial power to lure players away (like Middle Eastern leagues often do) but not one with any great footballing gravitas. That's clearly a fairly outmoded view, especially as the MLS trumps the Brasileirão in many ways: bigger attendances (in the last few years at least), better organisation, more advanced commercial streams.
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy bolstered their forward corps on Tuesday with the addition of Brazilian forward Samuel on a year-long loan from Fluminense, but head coach and general manager Bruce Arena says LA won’t be stopping there.
While observing U.S. National Team practice, Arena caught up with reporters to discuss the signing of the new Brazilian target forward and without getting into any specifics, mentioned that LA hope to lock down the signature of another forward within the next two weeks.
“We’re going to follow up this week with probably another player who can play that position as well. We’re trying to shore up our target position,” said Arena.
The addition of a second target striker could be a boon for the Galaxy who lacked a significant physical presence up top in 2013 as only 19-year-old Homegrown forward Jack McBean provided a true target forward presence.
Thoughts on Arena’s comments?
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It’s that time again when we make our resolutions for the New Year in hopes of making our lives just a little bit better.
To properly ring in what promises to be an eventful 2014, I decided to make a list of LA Galaxy New Year’s Resolutions. Now this list ranges from my own thoughts about what the team needs to a few other ideas on how to improve the team and MLS in the New Year.
* Build toward the future: continue to offer playing time to younger players like Jack McBean, Rafael Garcia and Greg Cochrane. One of the team’s greatest successes of 2013 was that head coach Bruce Arena afforded plenty of valuable game time to players like the three aforementioned youth. With international commitments and injuries likely to cause problems yet again, the Galaxy boss should continue his policy of giving time to emerging young talent.
*Deal with change: There will be some notable absences from the LA Galaxy roster in 2013, but none will be bigger than the departures of longtime right-sided player Sean Franklin—who was selected in Stage One of the MLS Re-Entry Process by D.C. United—and Jose Villarreal who was sent on a year-long loan with Cruz Azul. Both players were frequent contributors a year ago and will need to be replaced in the coming weeks.
*Allow Juninho to receive more responsibility in the attack especially on free kick situations. The Brazilian midfielder saw his offensive impact stunted in 2013, but he’ll be expected to carry more of the load next season especially on set piece opportunities.
*That being said, LA must show more resilience on defending set pieces and second ball opportunities to prevent the deficiencies that caused the club to fail last season. We've gone over this one many, many times.
*Find a new center forward to play alongside Robbie Keane to add a natural target striker to the Galaxy attack. During the club’s final media availability of 2013, Arena stated that finding this type of player was priority number one for LA ahead of the next campaign and with the transfer window open; the Galaxy will have the chance to get their man. With a target presence alongside Keane, Landon Donovan could transition back to the right midfield and offer greater width to the midfield.
*Build off what was learned in 2013: Continued production from Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo. LA’s two breakout stars in 2013 were Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo who became regular members of the Galaxy starting XI by season’s end, but production must continue to progress into 2014. For Sarvas, he’ll likely need cede some of his offensive responsibilities to his midfield partner Juninho and contain his physical exuberance that caused him to lead MLS in fouls committed last year. Meanwhile, Penedo must continue to progress as a goalkeeper and cut down on mistakes that led to goals down the stretch.
*More professional growth from Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers. The two attackers experienced inconsistent seasons in 2013, but the New Year brings greater expectations for both to provide reliable contributions for LA. If the pair can develop into offensive weapons, LA may have an added attacking dimension—particularly on the flanks— that was sorely lacking last season.
*Be more successful: Make a strong run in the U.S. Open Cup. The LA Galaxy have gone out in the third round in the U.S. Open Cup to the Carolina RailHawks each of the last two years, but with no CONCACAF Champions League waiting for them in the fall, a long run in the Open Cup should be beneficial for the team to provide minutes to their entire roster. Also, winning the USOC will help place the team back into the CCL for the 2015-16 tournament.
*Continue see the LA Galaxy Academy grow and produce players who could become valuable members of the first team in the future. LA Academy forawrd Haji Wright garnered a lot of the headlines toward the end of the year, but LA’s academy teams are continuing to show promise in the form of players like Adonis Amaya, Jaime Villarreal and many others.
*Good health to Robbie Keane who is recovering from surgery on both of his Achilles as he looks to get ready for the preseason. The Galaxy are hoping to have their captain back to full health by the start of preseason, but what is most important is having him fit and ready for the start of the season and the all-important CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal against Club Tijuana in March.
*Travel More: Get off to a strong start against Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal and keep dreams of the FIFA Club World Cup alive. The LA Galaxy’s quest for continental glory begins in March as they host the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals against Club Tijuana. With a victory at home, the Galaxy will be in strong standing as they look to advance past Xolos and reach the CCL semifinals for a second consecutive year in front of a hostile crowd at Estadio Calliente.
*Prosperity for Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan as they look to make their World Cup dream come true. Both Galaxy Designated Players appear to be strong candidates to make U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but both will need to stay healthy and in form to ensure a place on the plane to Brazil. If they’re able to reach Brazil, the pair is likely to be in Klinsmann’s starting XI and can expect to be major contributors as the U.S. hopes to advance from Group G over the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Here’s hoping for more moments like this one from four years ago.
*New ventures for the coming year: New MLS Television deals. Southern California is spoiled with the great Galaxy coverage on the Time Warner SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, but in 2014, MLS will look to negotiate their new national television deals which will play a major role in the league’s growth going forward. More financial resources from national television partners can only help grow the league which hopes to be among the world’s best during the next decade.
*Continue to foster a connection with the readers of this blog and all content on LAGalaxy.com. What truly makes my job worthwhile is interacting with all of those that enjoy my work on the LA Galaxy Insider Blog and LAGalaxy.com, and in 2014, I hope to have greater interaction with you the readers so that we can place the type of content that you’re looking for on this space.
Happy New Year.
Robbie Keane enjoyed an impressive year as he finished as one of the league's MVP finalists with 16 goals and 11 assist and our friends at KICKTV compiled this impressive set of highlights of Keane's goals and assists from 2013.
View Keane's goals below.
In what might be my favorite holiday video this year, Juninho offers his own special Happy Holidays message after firing a free kick in front of a wall made of Christmas trees.
Check it out below.
Villarreal was presented alongside fellow MLS players Rafael Baca and Michael Farfan on Saturday ahead of the move to the Mexico City club.
“Sending Jose Villarreal to Cruz Azul provides one of our Homegrown players an opportunity to gain additional experience,” said Galaxy Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena in a statement. “We’ll monitor Jose’s play with Cruz Azul and wish him well while in Mexico.”
On Saturday, LA Galaxy Insider reported that the deal is a year-long loan with an option to buy. Any loan fee that the Galaxy receive could net the club significant funs that should be able to improve a squad that has dealt with salary cap issues this offseason.
During the presentation of their new winter signings, Cruz Azul sporting director Agustín Manzo admitted that Mexican club’s idea to add Baca, Farfan and Villarreal came, at least, partially through his “very good friendship” with Galaxy assistant Curt Onalfo who had told him “many times about the players.”
The Cruz Azul brass may be high on Villarreal, but with La Maquina boasting talented attackers like Marco Fabian, Joao Rojas and Christian Gimenez, Villarreal will have his work cut out for him when it comes to breaking into the first team. If the Galaxy Homegrown forward is unable to crack the first team, then he’ll likely be given significant minutes with the club’s reserve side.
“It’s not going to be easy here, I’ll have to win a place,” said Villarreal after the presentation in Mexico. “With a lot of effort on the field, it can happen.”
The three goals selected were Omar Gonzalez's classy finish that helped the LA Galaxy defeat Juventus in the Guinness International Champions Cup on Aug. 3 at Dodger Stadium, Robbie Keane's brilliant chip of Nick Rimando in LA's victory over Real Salt Lake later in the month, and Sean Franklin's goal against RSL in the Western Conference Semifinal first leg at StubHub Center on Nov. 3.
Check it out below.
Jose Villarreal is joining Cruz Azul.
The 20-year-old striker was presented alongside new Cruz Azul signings for the upcoming Clausura tournament Rafael Baca, Xavi Baez, Marco Fabian, Michael Farfan, and Fausto Pinto on Saturday afternoon in Mexico. On Friday, the LA Galaxy declined comment on the reports of Villarreal's move to Mexico, but the club is expected to make an announcement early next week.
Although there are no official details on the move, it is my understanding that the deal is expected to be a year-long loan for Villarreal with an option for the Mexican side to purchase the forward. This could be a major boost for the Galaxy as Villarreal is likely to attract a hefty fee if he is successful in Mexico which would be used to further strengthen an LA side that fell in the Western Conference Semifinal round in 2013.
Presentación de los nuevos integrantes del equipo. José Villareal pic.twitter.com/lGBTdcHeFq
— CRUZ AZUL FC™ (@Cruz_Azul_FC) December 21, 2013
Presentación de los nuevos integrantes del equipo. pic.twitter.com/M7djGjqTcs
— CRUZ AZUL FC™ (@Cruz_Azul_FC) December 21, 2013