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 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.
The LA Galaxy announced their first match of their 2014 preseason schedule on Monday as they will face Armenian champions FC Shirak at StubHub Center on Feb. 8 at 6 pm.
Shirak are currently in second place in the Armenian Premier League and are led by Ivorian midfielder Serge Debl who is currently tied for the APL lead in goals with nine tallies. The club from Gyumri, Armenia -- the second largest city in the Eurasian country -- have won the APL three times, the Armenian Cup once and the Armenian SuperCup four times. The preseason match is the first time that the Galaxy will host a club from the Armenian Premier League.
LA are expected to open the preseason in mid-to-late January and the match is undoubtedly the first in preseason slate that will be designed to prepare the Galaxy for the start of the 2014 MLS regular season and their 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match against Club Tijuana.
Tickets for the match will go on sale on Jan. 14 at lagalaxy.com or by calling 1-877-3GALAXY.
Dwayne De Rosario and David Ferreira highlight list of players available for Stage Two of MLS Re-Entry Draft Process
There’s considerable talent on the board as MLS prepares for Stage Two of the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Process which will take place on Wednesday at 12pm PT.
During the Stage One of the MLS Re-Entry Draft, the LA Galaxy lost longtime right back Sean Franklin who was selected by D.C. United while Steve Zakuani (Portland Timbers), Bobby Boswell (D.C. United), Corben Bone (Philadelphia Union) and Marc Burch (Colorado Rapids) were also selected.
That amount of players available has been whittled down however, with several choosing to opt out in order to re-sign with their previous clubs or being dealt to other teams. Most notably, Kenny Cooper, Mauro Rosales and Bobby Convey were traded while players like Chris Rolfe, Andre Akpan and Logan Pause opted out with looks to return to their former clubs.
If a player is chosen in Stage Two, a club has seven days to make a bona fide offer to the selected individual, and if an agreement can’t be reached that club will have the right of first refusal for that player in MLS. Should a player not be chosen then they will be able to reach an agreement with the club of their choosing.
Prior to stage one, I evaluated several players who could be good fits for the Galaxy and while several have come off the board, former MLS MVPs David Ferreira and Dwayne De Rosario as well as New York Red Bulls forward Fabian Espindola remain the most talented players available. However with the Galaxy losing Sean Franklin, it would not be surprising to see LA go after depth at right back which makes players like Ugo Ihemelu, Brandon Barklage and James Riley intriguing choices.
The complete list of available players for stage two of the MLS Re-Entry Process are below:
Chicago Fire: D Shaun Francis, M Joel Lindpere, F Maicon Santos, M Wells Thompson*, M Michael Videira
Chivas USA: D Ante Jazic*, D Steve Purdy, M Josue Soto
Columbus Crew: M Danny O'Rourke, M Konrad Warzycha
Colorado Rapids: GK Steward Ceus, D Brian Mullan, M Jamie Smith
D.C. United: M Dwayne De Rosario, D James Riley, F Carlos Ruiz, M Marcelo Saragosa, D Daniel Woolard
FC Dallas: M David Ferreira, D Ugo Ihemelu
Houston Dynamo: F Calen Carr*, M Alex Dixon, F Cam Weaver
LA Galaxy: M Colin Clark, M Laurent Courtois
Montreal Impact: M Sinisa Ubiparipovic
New England Revolution: F Chad Barrett, F Ryan Guy, M Clyde Simms, M Juan Toja
New York Red Bulls: D Brandon Barklage, F Fabian Espindola, D Heath Pearce
Portland Timbers: D Ryan Miller
Real Salt Lake: D Brandon McDonald, GK Josh Saunders, M Khari Stephenson
Seattle Sounders: M Blair Gavin
San Jose Earthquakes: D Nana Attakora, M Mehdi Ballouchy, D Dan Gargan, GK Evan Newton
Toronto FC: F Justin Braun
Vancouver Whitecaps: GK Joe Cannon, F Corey Hertzog
Matt Reis is ready for the latest chapter in his life.
During my conversation with Reis, I asked about his opinion of LA's current goalkeeping situation and the 38-year-old provided a glowing recommendation of the team's goalkeeper corps.
"I’ve seen Jaime Penedo play and I’ve liked him for a long time. I remember watching him in the Gold Cup final when the U.S. played Panama. I think our styles are very similar," said Reis. "The other two goalkeepers Brian Perk and Brian Rowe are both from UCLA and are both going to be exceptional goalkeepers. Perk came from the same [youth] club that I grew up in and went through some minor setbacks last year while Rowe was able to help earn the team get some tough results over the course of the season … They are three guys who have shown that they can compete at this level so it’ll be exciting competition. "
It bares mentioning that Reis did not mention goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini who is expected to depart the club.
Heavy Southern California representation in list of 50 seniors invited to 2014 adidas MLS Player Combine
Major League Soccer announced the top 50 college seniors that will participate in 2014 MLS adidas Player Combine in Florida on Wednesday and there is a heavy California presence on the list.
UCLA have two players on the listas forward Victor Chavez and midfielders Victor Munoz were selected to the combine which will take place in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. from Jan. 10-14. Also included are U.C. Irvine midfielder Enrique Cardenas, U.C. Santa Barbara midfielder Kingsley Baiden and Cal Poly forward Mackenzie Pridham.
Five additional players from Southern California were also chosen as University of California, Berkeley's highly touted defender Steve Birnbaum (Irvine, Calif.) and Cal midfielders Alec Sundly (Capistrano Beach, Calif.) and Ryan Neil (Mission Viejo) were chosen to the combine as well as Stanford midfielder J.J. Koval (Camarillo, Calif.) and Akron midfielder Aodhan Quinn (San Diego, Calif.).
The list of college seniors will be supplemented by a selection of underclassmen who earn Generation adidas contracts, international selections and players from the NCAA's lower divisions.
The complete list of players by school is below:
|Reinaldo||Brenes||University of Akron||F||San Jose, Costa Rica|
|Robert||Derschang||University of Akron||D/M||Englewood, Colo.|
|Aodhan||Quinn||University of Akron||M||San Diego, Calif.|
|Eric||Stevenson||University of Akron||M||Columbus, Ohio|
|Steve||Birnbaum||University of California, Berkeley||D||Irving, Calif.|
|Alec||Sundly||University of California, Berkeley||M||Capistrano Beach, Calif.|
|Ryan||Neil||University of California, Berkeley||M||Mission Viejo, Calif.|
|Enrique||Cardenas||University of California, Irvine||F||Coachella, Calif.|
|Victor||Chavez||University of California, Los Angeles||F||Fontana, Calif.|
|Victor||Munoz||University of California, Los Angeles||M||Madrid, Spain|
|Mackenzie||Pridham||California Polytechnic State University||F||Toronto, Ontario|
|Kingsley||Baiden||University of California, Santa Barbara||M||Ajumako, Ghana|
|Tyler||Gibson||University of Charlotte||M||Knoxville, Tenn.|
|Thomas||McNamara||Clemson University||M||West Nyack, N.Y.|
|Pedro||Ribeiro||Coastal Carolina University||M/F||Belo Horizonte, Brazil|
|Kees||Heemskerk||College of Charleston||GK||Zaandam, Netherlands|
|Mamadou||Diouf||University of Connecticut||F||Dakar, Senegal|
|George||Fochive||University of Connecticut||M||Paris, France|
|Zach||Bolden||University of Denver||M/F||Denver, Colo.|
|Daniel||Lovitz||Elon University||M||Wyndmoor, Pa.|
|Joey||Dillon||Georgetown University||D/M||Rochester Hills, Mich.|
|Steve||Neumann||Georgetown University||M/F||New Hope, Pa.|
|Kristopher||Tyrpak||Houston Baptist University||F||Dripping Springs, Texas|
|Jacob||Bushue||Indiana University||D||Champaign, Ill.|
|AJ||Corrado||Indiana University||M||Zionsville, Ind.|
|Nikita||Kotlov||Indiana University||M||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Harrison||Petts||Indiana University||M||Zionsville, Ind.|
|Jimmy||Ockford||University of Louisville||D||Yardley, Pa.|
|Patrick||Mullins||University of Maryland||F||New Orleans, La.|
|Pete||Caringi||University of Maryland Baltimore County||F||Perry Hall, Md.|
|Kadeem||Dacres||University of Maryland Baltimore County||M||Rosedale, N.Y.|
|Mark||Sherrod||University of Memphis||F||Knoxville, Tenn.|
|Kevin||Cope||Michigan State University||D||Canton, Mich.|
|Michael||Calderon||University of New Mexico||M||San Jose, Costa Rica|
|Michael||Kafari||University of New Mexico||M||Accra, Ghana|
|Kyle||Venter||University of New Mexico||D||Aurora, Colo.|
|Alex||Martinez||North Carolina State University||M/F||Rock Hill, S.C.|
|Fabian||Otte||North Carolina State University||GK||Muenster, Germany|
|Grant||Van de Casteele||University of Notre Dame||D||Plano, Texas|
|Rafael||Diaz||St. John’s University||GK||Rockaway, N.J.|
|Adnan||Gabeljic||Saint Louis University||F||St. Louis, Mo.|
|Alex||Sweetin||Saint Louis University||M||Overland Park, Kan.|
|Ben||Sweat||University of South Florida||D||Palm Harbor, Fla.|
|JJ||Koval||Stanford University||M||Camarillo, Calif.|
|Romena||Bowie||Virginia Commonwealth University||M/F||Saint Mary, Jamaica|
|Luca||Gimenez||Wake Forest University||M/F||Sao Paulo, Brazil|
|Jared||Watts||Wake Forest University||M||Statesville, N.C.|
|Taylor||Peay||University of Washington||D||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Spencer||Richey||University of Washington||GK||Seattle, Wash.|
|Nick||Hagglund||Xavier University||D||Cincinnati, Ohio|
The LA Galaxy are going full speed ahead with their plans for a USL team in 2014.
During his interview on Joe Tutino’s LA Galaxy All-Access Podcast, Arena stated that the club is “anticipating” having a USL squad in the coming season that will help them develop existing rostered players, but also add further pieces in the Galaxy Academy.
“We’re going ahead full speed. We anticipate having a USL team. That will serve our academy players who were moving up to the major league roster. It will serve our players who are not playing on a regular basis for the first team as well,” Arena told Tutino. “We’re going to have obviously other players involved in the [USL] roster. Between the first team, which is now 30 to 29 players in MLS, and [the USL] roster we’ll likely have another 15 players who are involved in the USL and complemented by our roster. We should have 45 players here on a daily basis, two teams and a number of opportunities to give players game experience and to continue to move forward.
“We’re hopeful that we can discover a couple of players through the USL team but also develop our academy players that need playing time,” Arena continued. “You’re going to see players like Oscar Sorto, Jack McBean, Raul Mendiola, perhaps, Jose Villarreal; all those young players that if they’re not playing on a regular basis with us, they will be playing with the USL team.”
In addition to the USL team and a myriad of other topics, Arena addressed the topic of LA Galaxy players going on offseason loans stating that “our players aren't going anywhere” noting that Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez are expected to join U.S. National Team’s annual January camp. The Galaxy manager also stated that Robbie Keane should be back in comission after four to six weeks following his "procedure" earlier in the week.
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