MEXICO CITY— Stefan Ishizaki’s experience with playing at altitude is quite limited due to his long playing career in the lowlands of Scandinavia and Italy, but on Tuesday, he received a major test.
The Swede started as the Galaxy fell 2-1 to Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City. Playing in “D.F.” presents a number of challenges for opposing players, but none greater than the suffocating elevation of a city that sits at an altitude of 7,350 ft.
During his 45 minute shift, Ishizaki was stationed in the center of midfield in front of defensive counterweight Baggio Hušidić as LA tried out a 4-1-3-2 formation during the first stanza. However, Ishizaki admittedly struggled to make an impact early.
“It was brutal. My first 25 minutes, I could not catch my breath. It was very tough. After 25 minutes, I got into the game and felt a lot better,” said Ishizaki. “But we played against a Mexican team with a style that we’re probably going to face when we play Tijuana and it was good to see that style first hand.”
“In our half, we did an okay job. We didn’t move our feet quick enough and we let them play through us too easily. I think that was because we didn’t have the energy to be quick,” Ishizaki continued. “The elevation played a part a little bit, but we train every day to be able to do these things. We weren’t able to do it today against a team in the middle of their season, despite having a month left of preseason.’
Although he was unable to get forward frequently on Tuesday, Ishizaki, who is likely to play wide on the right during the regular season, was pleased with the chance to play centrally against Pumas.
Said Ishizaki, “I like it. I like it a lot better when I’m fitter and I can make runs and support the strikers while also go down and get the ball from the back four. I like it when I’m fitter, but it was okay, particularly in the last 25 minutes of the half.”
And as for the altitude and travel to Mexico City? Ishizaki believes that the experience will serve LA well as the season begins.
“It was a good exercise. We have to get use to the travel and we’re going to play at elevation so it’s good to get used to it,” said Ishizaki. “I’m not used to it after playing in Europe. It was a good experience for me and now I have some idea what to expect.”
Bruce Arena: LA Galaxy to be "guinea pigs" with USL PRO project as they seek to bridge development "black hole"
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy made MLS history on Wednesday by becoming the first team to operate a lower division club with the foundation of USL PRO side LA Galaxy II, and head coach Bruce Arena fully expects the rest of the league to follow in the club’s footsteps.
On Thursday, USL PRO unveiled the Galaxy II’s schedule for the upcoming 2014 season which will begin with their March 22 match against the Los Angeles Blues. Following LA’s training session, Arena stated that the creation of LA Galaxy II was a necessary step in the development of the American soccer player.
“We’ve lacked the next step for academy players or our players that are just outside of our first team. We’ve had a bit of a black hole in our development. This makes everything more natural,” said Arena on Thursday. “A young player can go from the U-18 to the USL team to the first team for those players that need those steps. That’s a majority of players so it’ll be a benefit for us.”
Arena also cleared up a few logistical questions noting that teams will train separately and that he will have “a lot of freedom” as they loan LA first team players back and forth between Galaxy and Galaxy II.
For all the confidence, Arena admits that the experience won’t be an easy one, but one that the club expects to pay dividends in the future.
“It’s definitely the future,” said Arena. “We’re going to be guinea pigs in the first year, it’s not going to be easy but it’ll be good going forward.”
PHILADELPHIA - The LA Galaxy got a little deeper at center back on Thursday by drafting New Mexico defender Kyle Venter with the 23rd overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
I spoke to Venter and Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena for about the defender's Galaxy connections for LAGalaxy.com. In addition, I spoke to both about where the New Mexico defender fits into LA's system.
Check it out below.
PHILADELPHIA— The LA Galaxy may have traded out of the first round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, but if history tells us anything, there could be value with their 23rd pick in the second round.
There have been quite a few high value 23rd picks from U.S. National Team midfielder Graham Zusi and LA Galaxy legend – and Galaxy Academy Director – Peter Vagenas to U.S. National Team veteran and former LA Galaxy left back Eddie Lewis among others. In fact, the history of the 23rd selection—in my opinion—is much more illustrious than that of the 14th pick which was headlined by Shalrie Joseph, George John and Ned Grabavoy.
The complete history of the 23rd pick is below:
2013— Luke Spencer, New England Revolution -- Suffered an ACL tear in preseason and did not make the Revolution's roster. Spencer resumed training with New England at the end of the 2013 season.
2012—Lucky Moksana, Chicago Fire -- Did not make the Fire roster out of preseason. Currently a member of the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies.
2011—Michael Farfan, Philadelphia Union -- Finished third in rookie of the year voting in 2011, signed with Liga MX side Cruz Azul after three seasons with the Union.
2010—Ross LaBauex, Colorado Rapids -- Made 18 appearances with the Colorado Rapids before being waived in September 2012, signed with USL Pro club Rochester Rhinos in March 2013.
2009—Graham Zusi, Kansas City Wizards (Sporting Kansas City) -- A regular with Sporting Kansas City and the U.S. National Team, Zusi was an MLS All-Star and MLS Best XI Selection in 2012 and 2013. Zusi was an MLS MVP finalist in 2012.
2008—Yomby William, Kansas City Wizards (Sporting Kansas City) -- Did not make a competitive appearance for Kansas City and has spent the last five years with USL Pro side Rochester Rhinos.
2007—Ty Harden, Los Angeles Galaxy -- Galaxy defender of the year in 2007, Harden retired in 2008 to pursue philanthropic endeavors in Africa. Harden returned to soccer in 2009 and is currently with the San Jose Earthquakes.
2006—Willie Sims, New England Revolution -- Made nine appearances with the Revolution from 2006 to 2007 and last played with USL Premier Developmental League side Los Angeles Misioneros.
2005—Domenic Mediate, Columbus Crew -- Played three seasons in MLS with the Crew and D.C. United before ending his career in 2009 with the Puerto Rico Islanders.
2004—Jeremiah White, New England Revolution -- Spent most of his career in Europe and earned his lone U.S. National Team cap in 2008 during a friendly against Sweden at The Home Depot Center.
2003—Roger Levesque, San Jose Earthquakes -- Spent three seasons with San Jose winning MLS Cup in 2003, but then moved onto Seattle Sounders FC for the next 10 seasons where he became a club icon. Levesque is currently a University of Washington grad student.
2002—Jon Busch, Columbus Crew -- Currently with the San Jose Earthquakes, Busch is one of only six MLS goalkeepers all-time with more than 100 wins.
2001—Justin Evans, Chicago Fire -- Played in MLS for two seasons with three clubs. Current head coach of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
2000—Peter Vagenas, Los Angeles Galaxy -- A two-time MLS Cup champion, Vagenas captained the LA Galaxy's 2005 MLS Cup winning side. After a 13-year career in MLS, Vagenas became the LA Galaxy Academy Director.
1999—Greg Sutton, Chicago Fire -- Longtime MLS goalkeeper who last played with the Montreal Impact.
1998—Jason Boyce, Colorado Rapids -- Bounced around MLS for three seasons and last played in MLS with the LA Galaxy reserves in 2010.
1997—Todd DeNault, Columbus Crew -- Released during preseason training camp, but no other information on DeNault was found.
1996—Eddie Lewis, San Jose Clash -- A left-sided defender who played four seasons with the San Jose Clash and was named to MLS Best XI in 1999. Lewis went on to play for Fulham, Leeds United and Derby County before joining the Galaxy in 2008. A U.S. National Team regular, Lewis appeared in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup.
The LA Galaxy were sorely lacking a target presence during their ill-fated 2013 campaign, but over the past seven days, LA have added two legitimate scoring options to their attacking arsenal.
Over the past week, the Galaxy have added two forwards in Brazilian forward Samuel and now Canadian international Rob Friend. Friend, 32, joins the Galaxy after an 11-year career in Europe that saw him tally 75 goals in nearly 260 league appearances with eight clubs.
Friend has spent the last two seasons with 1860 Munich making 24 appearances, but over the past season, he has played in 10 matches for the Die Löwen (The Lions) scoring a single goal. The 6-foot-5 forward’s final goal for Munich came on Sept. 21 when he notched a goal and an assist during a 3-1 victory over FC Erzgebirge Aue. Friend’s performance against the Saxony-based club was a vintage target forward display as he was able to aid in the build-up of a goal with a well-time knockdown of a cross before tallying a goal himself off a corner kick minutes later.
Such aerial skills were at a premium for the Galaxy in 2013 as center back Omar Gonzalez was often the lone target for the Galaxy on set pieces and often heavily marked by opposing defenses. The presence of a target forward like Friend will only stand to aid LA on attacking set pieces by freeing up space for LA’s other attackers like Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Although Friend brings a strong European pedigree to StubHub Center his minutes won’t be guaranteed as he’s expected to compete for the starting spot alongside Keane with the 22-year-old Samuel. Should either of the forwards lock down a starting place next to the Irishman, expect Donovan to drift back into the right side of midfield.
Highlights of Friend’s final goal for Munich are below.
LA Galaxy stalwarts Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez have been named to the 26-man roster for the upcoming U.S. National Team camp in Brazil.
The U.S. will take part in a “dry run” of the 2014 FIFA World Cup at Sao Paulo FC's facilities from Jan. 13-25 before returning to Southern California ahead of their Feb. 1 friendly against Korea Republic at StubHub Center. During the time, the U.S. has scheduled a pair of closed-door scrimmages against the Sao Paulo FC first team. Sao Paulo will serve as the base of operations for the Americans during upcoming World Cup.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had stated prior to the January camp at StubHub Center that he may take just 23 players on the 12-day trip to Brazil, but instead opted to take the complete squad after a week of training.
“We’ve been extremely pleased with the performance of the group in the first week,” Klinsmann said in a statement. “The players came in very fit and have done really well in training. Therefore, we believe they have all earned a chance to go down to Brazil for these next 12 days. We’re very excited about getting down to Sao Paulo and continuing the work. This is a huge opportunity to get to know our environment for the World Cup.”
Earlier in the week, Donovan stated that he expects the group to gain a great deal from their 12 days in Brazil.
“Getting a test run for 10 days in Brazil is very important,” said Donovan. “I remember in 2009 that playing in the [FIFA Confederations Cup] was very beneficial when we went back to South Africa a year later. It’s a really good and important step for the team.”
We’re less than a week from the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and on Friday, the 2014 MLS adidas Players Combine kicked off the draft week festivities.
In the first match, Team Predator defeated Team Nitro Charge 4-1 off goals from Zach Boldon (Denver), Tesho Akindele (Colorado School of Mines), Mamadou Diouf (Connecticut), and Pierre Omanga (So. New Hampshire). Akron’s Reinaldo Brenes scored the lone goal for Team Nitro Charge.
The final match of the evening, Team Brazuca defeated Team adiZero 2-0 off goals from Michigan’s Fabio Pereira and Maryland’s Schillo Tshuma.
MLSsoccer and Soccer by Ives each provided an update on the players who succeeded—and failed— during Day One. On Saturday, the teams will interview the combine participants before the players return to action on Sunday.
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?
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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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LA Galaxy bolster their attack with the addition of Brazilian forward Samuel on a loan from Fluminense
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy stated that acquiring a target forward was at the top of their wish list for the 2014 season and just seven days into the year, they may have got their man.
LA announced the acquisition of 22-year-old Brazilian forward Samuel on a year-long loan from Brazil’s Fluminense on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1 center target striker who tallied 15 goals in 72 appearances over the last two years with the Fluzão will be added to the Galaxy’s roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and his P-1 Visa.
“We are pleased to add Samuel to our roster,” said LA Galaxy Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena in a statement released by the club. “Samuel is a young, talented forward with both size and skill. We are confident his addition will help boost our attack in 2014.”
Samuel's signature is a coup for the Galaxy as the Brazilian striker who served as the strike partner for Brazilian international Fred at Fluminense had been linked with a number of clubs in Spain, Brazil and China in recent weeks. Most notably, Samuel nearly completed deals to Real Madrid B and Barcelona-based Espanyol, but saw the moves fall through that kept him in Brazil.
Thoughts on the Brazilian signing?
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