Portland Timbers

18 March 3:45 pm

CARSON, Calif. – A.J. DeLaGarza could be back in the starting XI soon as the veteran LA Galaxy defender has made a full recovery from a nagging left foot injury.

DeLaGarza’s injury kept the center back out of commission for much of the preseason, but he was able to make a brief cameo during the team’s season opener against the Chicago Fire. A week later, DeLaGarza was an unused substitute in LA’s 2-2 draw against the Portland Timbers, but according to Bruce Arena, DeLaGarza is “very close” to returning to the lineup.

“I missed the entire preseason, but I got 60 minutes in a [closed-door scrimmage] against Galaxy II last week," DeLaGarza said. "There’s no better way to get fit then actually playing. Hopefully soon, I can get back out there, and hopefully suffer no setbacks.”

Provided there aren’t any steps backward, DeLaGarza believes that he could be ready to start as soon as this Saturday’s game against the Houston Dynamo.

“I want to get a game in as soon as possible, I want to be out there because this is my livelihood,” DeLaGarza said. “The fun part of this job is playing in competitive matches, and if Bruce calls me up this weekend then I’ll be ready to play.”

17 March 3:34 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Brian Rowe made his second consecutive start when he got the nod in net for the LA Galaxy's 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday, but apparently, Bruce Arena was not intending to give the youngster the start initially. 

Arena told reporters on Tuesday that he had intended to start 2014 regular starter Jaime Penedo against the Timbers, but the Panamanian goalkeeper was a late scratch. 

"Jaime was supposed to start but came down with a migraine before the game so Brian got to play," Arena told reporters. "I think that it was good that Brian got two games in the early on in the season, but Jaime is certainly going to get back in there."

Both Penedo and Rowe trained on Tuesday. 

EDSON BUDDLE STILL WORKING TO RETURN FROM INJURY

A left quad injury has kept Edson Buddle from suiting up for the LA Galaxy this season, but the 34-year-old forward is making strides with his recovery and could be back in the squad this Saturday against the Houston Dynamo.

Buddle has taken part in full training with the club for the last week, but the veteran forward still believes that he needs to work on "each aspect" of the game to improve his overall sharpness. 

"I still have a ways to go. I need to work my way back into it," said Buddle. "It's possible [to play vs. Houston]. I'm shooting for it. Maybe this week I'll be ready, but you never know." 

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena isn't so sure that the forward will be back by Houston, however. 

"He hasn't trained at all so he's just getting back into training." 

Even if the Houston match is still soon for Buddle, the forward "definitely" plans to be in the mix when the Galaxy take on D.C. United on March 28. 

DRAFT PICK ANDREW WOLVERTON STILL IN THE LA GALAXY'S PLANS

The LA Galaxy are still interested in bringing in 2015 MLS SuperDraft selection Andrew Wolverton, Bruce Arena confirmed on Tuesday.

LA selected the 6-foot-6 goalkeeper in the fourth round of the draft with the 82nd overall pick but he missed all of the preseason due to a nagging foot injury. 

16 March 11:31 am

PORTLAND, Ore.  – “Character” results are one of the most tried and true sports clichés around, but the LA Galaxy made that narrative a reality with their late 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

Amid rain and high winds that made the already difficult Providence Park turf pitch even tougher, the Galaxy dominated the match, but still needed to overcome two deficits to steal a point on the road against the Timbers. The final touch came just seconds after Portland pulled ahead in the 90th minute when an Alan Gordon header sealed a draw for the Galaxy.

After the match, Galaxy captain Robbie Keane was not frustrated about missed opportunities, but commending his squad on the grit that they showed.

“We kept battling. I told the lads before the game that we’re probably the best footballing team in the league, or one of, but sometimes you have to show a little bit more than that,” said Keane. “Sometimes you can’t play under difficult circumstances and today was one of those circumstances even though they allowed us to play and we dominated the second half as they dropped off a lot. It’s about battling through and showing some heart. We certainly showed that today.”

Gordon, who was once again the late game hero, agreed that LA’s show of character will help the team going forward in the season.

“To come back and steal a point is huge for our momentum going back to L.A.,” Gordon said.

15 March 8:21 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. – Brian Rowe earned his second consecutive start in goal for the LA Galaxy in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers, but the young goalkeeper was less than pleased with his showing.

Rowe appeared confident despite tough conditions that forced the Oregon native to frequently come off his line to stifle Timbers’ forays into the penalty area. However, the wind also led to some inopportune moments as several of the 26-year-old’s clearances were brushed backward due to the blustery conditions.

Rowe’s lowest moment of the afternoon came on the Timbers’ second goal as he rushed to clear a Darlington Nagbe run, only to leave the net wide open for Fanendo Adi who easily finished his second from close range.  In the end, however, Alan Gordon’s late goal stole a point for the Galaxy, and offered Rowe some confidence after a less than stellar performance in Portland.

“I thought I did alright, I expect better of myself on that last one. We did a great job fighting back and getting the tying goal at 1-1 and just sort of as you get to those closing minutes on the road you just have to be able to close it out,” said Rowe. “So personally I expect better of myself at that second one, just to be able to clean it out and do a little better but a little magic by way of Alan Gordon and fortunately we were able to steal a point and get out of here.”

Jaime Penedo is once again expected to test Rowe for the starting job as the club looks ahead to next week’s match against the Houston Dynamo. However, Rowe has little concern about getting pulled into a goalkeeper battle.

“I feel comfortable out there. I feel confident,” Rowe said. “I’m just trying to keep it going in training every week, keep the consistency going and just try to keep pushing myself to get better.”

15 March 12:27 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. –Ahead of the LA Galaxy’s match with the Portland Timbers (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes 4 p.m. PDT), let’s take a look at some required reading, matchups to watch, and my prediction for Sunday's match.

LINKS:

*The biggest question of the week is who plays in goal for the Galaxy on Sunday? Brian Rowe or Jaime Penedo.

*Jose Villarreal made a major mark along the left side of midfield in the Galaxy's win against the Chicago Fire, and he'll be aiming to do the same against the Timbers.

*Could the LA Galaxy have a new Scanadivanian connection? As newcomer Mika Vayrynen looks to make his debut against the Timbers, Stefan Ishizaki is hoping to have a great sophomore season with the Galaxy.

*LA bolstered their squad this week with the signing of rookie midfielder Ignacio Maganto who is eager to make an impact for the first team.

*In the latest edition of By the Numbers, we take a look at LA’s frustrating record in Bridgetown.

*LAGalaxy.com reporter Larry Morgan checks in with a preview on the Galaxy’s trip to Portland.

*The 2013 MLS Referee of the Year Hilario Grajeda will serve as the head official for Sunday's match.

*In the latest edition of 90 in 90, Cobi Jones and Joe Tutino provide their insight to the game in Portland.  

*Lastly, check out my video for LA Galaxy TV previewing the match.

THEY SAID IT:

"It's always a tough place to go. Great fans and great atmosphere. I'm sure, it will be raining again, like it is every year we’re there. I really enjoy the atmoswphere there."

- Robbie Keane on the trip to Portland. 

QUESTIONS AHEAD OF THE MATCH:

WHO WINS THE BATTLE IN THE MIDFIELD: JUNINHO OR DIEGO CHARA

The midfield battle will be decided between the two international stars who will look to set the tempo for their respective club. Expect plenty of hard challenges on the small field at Providence Park

CAN ROBBIE KEANE KEEP UP HIS SCORING STREAK IN PORTLAND?

The LA Galaxy may have only one win all-time in Portland, but the Rose City has proven to be a boon town for Robbie Keane. The Irishman has three goals and one assist in four career matches at Providence Park, and will look to find the back of the net again on Sunday.

WHO STARTS IN GOAL FOR THE LA GALAXY?

The biggest question for the Galaxy, however, is who starts in goal for Bruce Arena’s squad. Brian Rowe was rarely tested during LA’s 2-0 shutout of the Fire, but 2014 incumbent netminder Jaime Penedo will be eager to get the nod in goal.  

PREDICTION:

LA Galaxy 2 (Robbie Keane, Baggio Husidic) Portland Timbers 2 (Darlington Nagbe, Fernando Adi)

14 March 7:17 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Drama is par the course when the LA Galaxy travel to the Rose City to take the Portland Timbers, and LA expect another barnburner when the two teams face off on Sunday.

 The last time the Galaxy set foot on the turf pitch at Providence Park, the two teams saved the scoring for the dying moments as a Diego Valeri strike in stoppage time negated a Robbie Keane goal moments later. Late game flare-ups are common when the two teams face off as 15 of 39 goals scored in the series all-time have been scored between the 61st and 90+ minutes.

With those late game goals common especially when LA travel to Portland, the question has to be asked, why the added intrigue every time the Galaxy head to Bridgetown?

“When you add a short field with a big crowd, it makes a difference,” Juninho said. “Portland is very good at home. They know that they have to play well at home, and against us, they want to give everything.  We need to be aware of that.”

As his team prepares for the challenge ahead, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena says his group must be calm and smart to prevent any further dramatics. 

“One of our objectives this season is to be a better team on the road,” Arena said. “Hopefully, we can set the tone, play smart and bring home three points.” 

10 March 3:57 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Jaime Penedo declared on Monday that there is “no problem” between him and the LA Galaxy coaching staff after an UniMas report during last week’s 2-0 LA win over the Chicago Fire stated that he was purposely benched in favor of Brian Rowe due to contract negotiations.

On Friday Galaxy coach Bruce Arena quickly denied the report and cited Penedo’s “nagging injuries” as the reason behind the reason that Panamanian was benched. After training on Monday, Penedo, who is signed through the end of the 2015 season, shook off the report, and stated that he was focused on returning to his place between the pipes when the Galaxy face the Portland Timbers this weekend.

"The contract is there, but I just need to continue to look to win a championship,” Penedo said. “The team has the option, but it is not my priority right now. ...The coach and I have come to an agreement, and that is all set.”

LA GALAXY RESERVES DEFEAT LA GALAXY II IN SHORT GAME SCRIMMAGE

Ahead of this week's trip to Oregon to face the Portland Timbers, a reserve-laden Galaxy squad defeated LA Galaxy II in a 60 minute scrimmage on Tuesday.

Alan Gordon scored two goals for the Galaxy while Todd Dunivant added a third in the practice game.

GYASI ZARDES WORKING WITH ON FINISHING WITH JOSE VILLARREAL 

A year ago, Gyasi Zardes was the breakout star for the LA Galaxy, but in 2015, it’s fellow Galaxy Homegrown Player Jose Villarreal who is eager to fill that role.

Villarreal notched a goal in an impressive shift along the left side of midfield in the Galaxy’s 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, and put himself in contention to start again this Sunday when LA faces the Portland Timbers. Following the match against the Fire, Zardes spoke highly of Villarreal, and after practice on Tuesday, he echoed his praises.

"We're working together on finishing, and we're always helping each other," said Zardes. "We're both hungry to be on the field and stay there. He scored a beautiful goal [against the Fire], and I'll make sure that he stays confident and if he gets down then I'll be there to help him."

06 August 1:14 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Jose Villarreal is back and the LA Galaxy Homegrown Player believes that he has plenty to prove returning to Southern California.

In my latest piece for LAGalaxy.com, Villarreal talks about his frustrations with his stint with Cruz Azul and his eagerness to shine for Galaxy II. Villarreal failed to register a single appearance for the Cruz Azul first team, but scored in his first appearance for Los Dos last weekend in their loss to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 

More of Jose Villarreal's thoughts on coming back are below. 

(On whether he regrets his transfer to Mexico…)

VILLARREAL: “I wouldn’t say regret, but it was a challenge. But it was a challenge that I learned a lot from. It wasn’t really a failure or a little disappointment. It was something like I went to Mexico with a mentality to do well, and it didn’t go my way. I came back with the same mentality, and I will try to do the same thing that I’ve been doing here.”

(On whether he was disappointed in the way it ended…)

VILLARREAL: “Maybe if I had gotten few more games, then my decision would have been a lot tougher. So it is what it is, and I’m happy with that.”

(On the main lesson that he learned in Mexico…)

VILLARREAL: “Lifestyle is different obviously, but the society isn’t as wealthy as it is here. So, you can see the difference of the way players live versus the way that the people live. So that was the learning off the field. And on the field, it was a different kind of soccer, and got to learn it the first two years that I was here, so from the five months that I was there, I will try to bring what I learned over there and mix it up with the style over here.”

(On whether the biggest regret at Mexico was not getting enough minutes…)

VILLARREAL: “I think that was what it was. I was coming from being on the bench and getting few minutes with the Galaxy here and there, and few starts, and Champions League. So, I went down there and I couldn’t play the Champions League because of the rule, and those games were good, and we ended up winning the Champions League, so it would have been good to get into those games, but as you said not being able to get minutes. Maybe I could have waited, but I didn’t so, we’ll see what happens from now. Most of the minutes that I was getting were with the U-20s. I think I played 10 minutes with the Hidalgo team, so it was a bit frustrating but it was just some bumps on the road and I just got to keep going.”

 (On the differences between top players in Mexico and in the USA…)

VILLARREAL: “From the top players like top players like Robbie Keane, who is from oversea, 90% chance is a goal. So he is the guy that you want on your team. You could see the difference. For example, Gyasi has been great this season. Last season, he had a lot of opportunities and he was working on it. Now you give this player minutes there is confidence when he steps on the field. Just keep going and the result is going well so I’m happy for him.”

(On any first team aspirations that he holds…)

VILLARREAL: “I haven’t really talked about that. I’m focused, right now, and I’m looking to make a full commitment with [Galaxy II head coach Curt Onalfo] and the second team. I am happy to be with Curt. I’ve been working with him for a while and he is a good coach.”

04 August 10:23 am

CARSON, Calif. -- Red hot LA Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes is traveling to Portland for Monday's Chipotle Homegrown Game, but don't expect the forward to play a role for the MLS Homegrowns against the Portland Timbers U-23 team. 

Zardes was selected for Monday's event along with fellow Galaxy HGP Bradford Jamieson IV, but after Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Timbers, the 22-year-old striker admitted that  with the Galaxy playing the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday, he's expecting to see limited action -- at most -- in the Homegrown Game. 

"I'm going to play it by ear, but I highly doubt [I'll play]," said Zardes who landed in Portland on Sunday. "But I'm the guy that if they tell me to do something then I'll do it."

Keeping Zardes off the field in the Homegrown match is certainly advantageous to the Galaxy as the second-year forward is currently on a torrid scoring run that has seen him tally seven goals in his last eight games. Although he's already enjoying a career season with eight goals and one assist, the 22-year-old forward is trying his best to stay grounded. 

"Now that [the game against Portland] is over, I don't look back. I'm not going to fantazise about all the goals that I've scored," said Zardes. "The next game [that I play] when I'm in that moment, I'm thinking [I have] zero goals. I have to prove myself."

02 August 4:45 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Stop the presses, the LA Galaxy have finally scored from a penalty kick.

Robbie Keane scored from the spot in the 85th minute of the LA Galaxy's 3-1 victory over the Portland Timbers after Juninho was brought down in the penalty area by Diego Chara. The goal may have simply padded the scoreline of the team's win over the Timbers, but it was significant as LA had previously failed in three prior attempts to score on a penalty kick.

Although Robbie Keane shrugged off the fact that the Galaxy were the only team in MLS yet to convert from the spot, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena admitted it was good for his team to -- at long last -- find the back of the net on a penalty.

"Robbie [Keane] takes the penalties [for us] and that’s the first one we’ve made this year," said Arena. "We were the only team in the league which hadn’t converted a penalty this year, so it’s nice to get that monkey off our backs.”