Former LA Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens is close to continuing his career in Europe.
Sources confirmed to LA Galaxy Insider that Stephens is in Oslo and close to finalizing a deal with Norwegian Tippeligaen club Stabæk. The 24-year-old spent the last three seasons with the LA Galaxy, compiling 94 league appearances with two goals and 12 assists. If signed, Stephens will be the fifth American to play for the club, joining the likes of Ricardo Clark and Mikkel Diskerud.
Stabæk are led by former U.S. National Team head coach Bob Bradley who took the reins in January after his contract to manage Egypt's national side was not renewed. Bradley is the first American head coach to lead a top division European club.
After being relegated following a seven year stay in the top-flight, De blaa (The Blue Ones) achieved promotion in 2013 with a second place finish in the Adeccoligaen. Stabæk open their 2014 campaign on March 30 against Sogndal.
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CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Jack McBean is off to train in England for two weeks a source close to the striker told LA Galaxy Insider.
McBean will be training with League One side Wolverhampton Wanderers—the team that gave Robbie Keane his start—and Football League Championship club Blackburn Rovers over the next two weeks. The source confirmed that McBean departed for England on Tuesday and will be training with the first team of both clubs. A club spokesperson confirmed the training stints.
The 18-year-old forward is fresh off a season that saw him make 18 appearances in all competitions tallying two goals and a single assist. McBean made major strides early on in the year but suffered a fractured left clavicle in April that sidelined him for nearly two months.
The LA Galaxy Under-18’s will have the opportunity to test themselves against some of the world’s best clubs this March.
Sources close to the tournament told the LA Galaxy Insider that the Galaxy Academy will participate in the prestigious Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup youth tournament in the Gordon Jago Super Group for the first time in the Academy's history. The tournament takes place from March 24 to March 31 at various venues in the Dallas area including the Cotton Bowl, University of Texas-Dallas and Richland College. The age criteria for the tournament is here and every Galaxy Homegrown player is eligble to participate except for the newly signed Gyasi Zardes.
The Under-19 tournament currently consists of a number of prominent clubs including EPL side Fulham, German club Eintracht Frankfurt, Mexican sides Club America and Tigres UNAL as well as Brazilian clubs Coritiba and Fluminense. Last year, Coritiba defeated the Manchester United Under-19’s to win the tournament. The last American youth club to win the Gorgon Jago Super Group was the Dallas Texans in 2006, who were led by current Galaxy center back and 2012 MLS Cup MVP Omar Gonzalez.
Several former and current Galaxy players have cut their teeth at the Dallas Cup with David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Juninho, Oscar Sorto, Jose Villarreal, Zardes, and Gonzalez among the alumni.
Add another talented young talent to the LA Galaxy.
Sources close to the negotiations have told the LA Galaxy Insider that the club will sign Cal-State Bakersfield forward Gyasi Zardes to a Homegrown contract.
Considered the top prospect in college soccer, the 6-foot-2 forward from Hawthorne starred for the Roadrunners scoring 38 goals, tallying 18 assists in 56 games over his three year stint at CSUB. In 2012, Zardes scored 15 goals in 17 matches with nine assists—the highest amount of his career. The 21-year-old, who was born to parents with Brazilian roots, will be the fifth Homegrown signing in club history and the fourth currently on the team joining Jack McBean, Oscar Sorto and Jose Villarreal.
During his three years in Central California, Zardes earned countless accolades including being named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Offensive Player of the Year in both 2011 and 2012. Zardes was also named to the 15-man short-list for the Hermann Trophy (college soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy) after the 2011 season.
Zardes was a staple for the Galaxy Academy set up from 2008 through 2010, playing for the Galaxy Under-18’s and Under-20’s.
CARSON, Calif. -- On the heels of adding Swedish International Christian Wilhelmsson, the LA Galaxy appear to be closing in on another signature, this time of the Homegrown variety.
According to LA Galaxy Under-18 defender Oscar Sorto, the Galaxy and the right back from South Central Los Angeles are currently in discussions over a potential Homegrown contract. Sorto, 18, has been training with the Galaxy's first team for the last month shortly after returning from a training stint with Swedish club Hammarby IF. Sorto has earned considerable praise from the Galaxy players and coaching staff during his stint with head coach Bruce Arena describing Sorto as a "good player and I think that he has a future with our team."
When asked after Friday's training session about whether he could potentially turn his training period with the Galaxy first team into a Homegrown deal, Sorto admitted that the negotiations are taking place.
"Right now we're talking about that," Sorto told LA Galaxy Insider. "I'm from South Central and it would be really big. I've been watching the Galaxy since I was little, Cienfuegos played here and he's a role model for us Salvadorans so it would be great playing for the Galaxy."
When reached for comment, Galaxy Vice President Chris Klein told LA Galaxy Insider that "We don't comment on any type of negotiations until anything is finalized."
CARSON, Calif. -- Ahead of his appearance at training on Friday, the LA Galaxy may be closing in on Swedish International Christian Wilhemsson.
On Friday, LA Galaxy Insider reported that Wilhemsson was training with the club and on Saturday, the Galaxy confirmed that the Swedish international is a player of interest and is currently in training with the club. The confirmation comes as Wilhemsson's wife Oksana tweeted a photo of the player's locker on Saturday evening.
Head Coach Bruce Arena provided the following statement:
ARENA: "Christian is a player that we are interested in and that we have in training with us right now. Should an official arrangement be reached we will make an appropriate announcement at that time."
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy Insider understands that Sweden international midfielder Christian "Chippen" Wilhelmsson trained with the club during their Friday training session.
Wilhelmsson, 32, who is currently out of contract has represented Sweden 78 times and played for numerous clubs including Anderlecht, Roma, Bolton and most recently Middle Eastern clubs Al Hilal and Al Ahli has been linked to the Galaxy according to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.
In terms of the 30 allowed roster spots, LA has 29 spots filled and while the club does have all seven international spots filled, one of those spots is being held by center back Leonardo, who is currently on the disabled list. Thus freeing the club up to make a move should one arise.
Following practice, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena deflected questions about Wilhelmsson:
ARENA: “I have no comment. You know when we sign a player, we announce it. We don’t go into the rumor mill; we’ve been pretty accurate in the things that we say so if there is an opportunity to sign a player, you’ll be aware of it.”’
(On whether Wilhelmsson was training with the club…)
ARENA: “I haven’t seen him.”
(On whether he was a player spotted wearing number nine before practice…)
ARENA: “That’s a guy that plays for Virginia Beach Mariners. His name is Joe Butler.”
Chad Barrett is Norway bound.
LA Galaxy forward Chad Barrett appears set for a training stint with Norwegian club Vålerenga.
In an interview with the club’s official website head coach of the Oslo-based club Martin Andresen spoke highly of the forward.
“We look for opportunities to enhance our offensive against the fall season. We have some good reports on Chad and he wished himself to come to Norway to show off," Andresen told the club’s official website. “That's why he comes here this week to train with us. Then we saw him in our environment so we can make an even more thorough assessment of him as to whether we want to tie ourselves to him.”
Barrett did not travel with the club for their Pacific Northwest road trip.
UPDATE: Barrett sent the following from his Twitter account Tuesday morning:
"Hey guys, wasn't really supposed to write anything so i apologize for leaving you all in the dark but i have been allowed by the club to go on trial with Valerenga IF here in Oslo in search to possibly take my game abroad and i am extrmemly thankful for the opportunity and chance to see what may come of it. i am here training this week and though it is a great experience i miss the day to day interactions with the guys and playing in front of the great
@LAGalaxy faithful. Great game by the fellas against Portland, i know they enjoyed my hometown. good luck to them against the Whitecaps, and of course stomp out those Goats on the weekend and I'll see the guys after a 9 point week!!!"
PORTLAND, Ore.—While the first team trains in Portland, a pair of LA Galaxy academy members are off to Europe—one for good.
Academy defender Oscar Sorto will join Swedish second division club Hammarby on a two week training stint. The centerback –who was recently named to the US Soccer Developmental Academy West Division Best XI—joins a club coached by former Galaxy centerback Gregg Berhalter. Sorto made 24 appearances for the LA Galaxy U-17/18s as well as two in Reserve League play.
Meanwhile, Sorto heads to Sweden, his U-17/18 teammate, Mario Rodriguez has left the team to join German second division club 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Rodriguez— who was named to the U.S. Under-20 team for the Milk Cup tournament and appeared in the 2011 U-17 World Cup—made 21 appearances for the Galaxy U-17/18 side scoring seven goals. Rodriguez also made two appearances for the Galaxy reserves.
Following the Galaxy’s victory over Portland on Saturday, I caught up with Galaxy Vice President Chris Klein to discuss the moves. Klein, who served as the club’s Senior Director of the Academy before being named Vice President earlier this year also serves on the board of directors for the Swedish club.
Klein’s thoughts are below…
(On Sorto training at Hammarby)
“We just sent him over to Hammarby IF to train with Gregg [Berhalter], he’s one of the more promising players in our academy and with the relationship that we have with Hammarby, we thought it was good to get him over where while they’re on a break. They have a three week break over there and he can train with their first team and we’ll see how he does.”
“He’s going to be there for two weeks. It’s a two week period and after that two week period, we’ll re-evaluate the next stage of his development. College is still an option, signing and possibly a loan agreement is an option as well.”
(On Mario Rodriguez signing in Germany…)
“Mario Rodriguez is a player that we were very high on, but at the end of the day, we can’t sign all these players and that is one of the downsides of our Academy. He got a better offer than we could give him in Germany so we hope he does well. The reality is that we don’t own these players and it’s tough to keep them under your umbrella.”
*INSIDER Note: Klein references college being an option for Sorto; the centerback committed to CSU-Bakersfield in April.