CARSON, Calif. – Brazilian center back Leonardo is no strange to scorn from LA Galaxy fans, but in 2014, the defender made major strides that may see him start 2015 as the principal partner beside Omar Gonzalez.
Free of the injury issues that plagued him during his first four seasons with the club, Leonardo became a regular in Bruce Arena’s lineup as the Brazilian made 24 appearances and 20 starts—each of which were career-highs. Leonardo also added a goal which was his first tally since the 2011 campaign.
Although Leonardo struggled at times—LA’s CONCACAF Champions League second leg against Club Tijuana was a particularly difficult game—the Brazilian defender showed steady improvement over the course of the season. During the last three months of the team’s campaign in particular, Leonardo blossomed into one of the team’s finest defenders as his physicality and passing ability were vital to LA’s postseason campaign. In addition to his ability to shut down opposing offenses, Leonardo also developed a tendency to push forward into the attack to give the team numbers on set pieces.
Next season, the onus will be on the frequently maligned central defender to stake a claim as Bruce Arena’s primary option alongside Omar Gonzalez in the middle of the back four. To do so, he must continue to be the steady defender of the final months of the season and minimize the mistakes that were apparent at the start of the season.
How would you rate Leonardo’s 2014 season? Read my review of the defenders on LAGalaxy.com and rate his season in the poll and comment section below.
CARSON, Calif. – From the last player signed at preseason to a valuable member of a team in the midst of a run to MLS Cup, Dan Gargan’s 2014 season certainly went better than any expected.
In 2014, Gargan set career-highs in appearances (29), starts (27) minutes played (2400), and assists (five) after being signed on Bruce Arena’s final addition after preseason. Gargan was also a regular during the postseason as he appeared in all five of the Galaxy’s matches, including coming on as a substitute during the extra time of LA’s MLS Cup victory.
During LA’s run to their fifth MLS Cup title, Gargan was a fixture along the right side of defense—while also occasionally filling in at left back—providing steady defense while also using his speed down the flank to aid in the Galaxy counterattack. But what Gargan does for an encore next season remains to be seen.
In MLS, outside back depth is always an asset and with players like Todd Dunivant another year older, Gargan will have every opportunity to fill along both sides of the flank. However much of where Gargan plays relies on the makeup of the back line: if Arena opts for a center back tandem that includes A.J. DeLaGarza at center back, Gargan will likely have more opportunities to play, but if the LA Galaxy defender of the year is moved out wide, the 32-year-old will likely be used as a depth option.
How would you rate Dan Gargan’s 2014 campaign. Read my review of the Galaxy's defenders while also voting and commenting in the section below.
To celebrate Landon Donovan’s retirement, The Men in Blazers podcast created a 30-minute special of Roger Bennet’s interviews with the LA Galaxy legend as they filmed “The Finish Line” for Grantland over the course of the last month of his career.
In the wide-ranging and thoughtful podcast, Landon Donovan talks about his battle with depression, World Cup memories and the Teddy Bear he use to bring on the road.
This is essential listening for those still coming to terms with Landon Donovan’s retirement.
Robbie Keane is not heading out on loan in 2015.
At least, that’s what the LA Galaxy’s captain and reigning MLS MVP told reporters at Tallaght Stadium earlier this week when he announced the team’s preseason match against Irish club Shamrock Rovers.
A day after his MLS Cup MVP performance that led the Galaxy to their fifth league title, Keane had hinted that he may be looking for another challenge in 2015, but despite several “tempting” offers, the 34-year-old has turned down any chance to go on loan before the LA resume preseason in late January.
"I've been asked to go on loan. I think you know me, better than anybody, after a few weeks (inactivity) I get the itch. I've got the itch now 100 percent. I was playing five-a-side with me mates 10 days after the Cup final. That’s the way I am.
"I have been asked (to go on loan by a number of Premier League clubs), yeah. And there’s a temptation because I just love playing football,” he added. “There’s a temptation but I just can’t see it happening to be honest with you. It’s not going to happen.”
As for the rationale behind turning down any perspective loans, Keane notes that given his health—he underwent two Achilles surgeries last December—added traction on his 34-year-old legs would be ill advised heading into the Galaxy’s 2015 campaign.
"There’s certainly a temptation because I just love playing so much,” said Keane. “But I've spoken to people and medically it wouldn't make any sense for me.
"It wouldn't probably be fair at this moment after what I put myself through after the operations that I've had. I want to continue for a long time and this is probably my best bet but as I say it’s tempting but, like i say, it’s not going to happen."
Go to LAGalaxy.com/GOTY to view all the nominees for the 2014 LA Galaxy Goal of the Year presented by Tire Pros.
WATCH: Robbie Keane speaks to Shamrock Rovers F.C. about the LA Galaxy's preseason match in the Republic of Ireland
The man from Tallaght is returning home in 2015 when Robbie Keane leads the LA Galaxy to the Republic of Ireland where they'll face 17-time Irish league champion Shamrock Rovers F.C. at Tallaght Stadium on Feb. 21.
Keane was on hand at Tallaght Stadium on Monday morning to reveal that the match will take place during the Galaxy's 2015 preseason preparations. During his press conference, Keane spoke to Shamrock Rovers' SRTV about the match and his thoughts on playing in his home town.
Watch Keane's thoughts on the match above.
The LA Galaxy will be heading to Europe this preseason when they take on the Republic of Ireland's Shamrock Rovers F.C. at Tallaght Stadium on Feb. 21 at 8 a.m. PT
LA's match against Rovers will see 2014 MLS MVP Robbie Keane return to his home town of Dublin -- and most specifically Tallaght -- to play Shamrock Rovers, which is the most successful professional club in Irish history. Rovers have won the League of Ireland 17 times while also winning the FAI Cup a record 24 times.
MLS has an early Christmas present for the league: the 2015 opening weekend schedule is out! Greg Lalas and Andrew Wiebe of MLSsoccer.com bring you the best matchups, and what it means for your team.
Retired LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan received a lifetime achievement award from Univision during their Premios Unvision Deportes which aired on Thursday night.
A visibly emotional Donovan was presented the award by MLS commissioner Don Garber while presenters Ivan Kasanzew and Enrique “Perro” Bermudez showed Donovan a video of fans from across the country thanking him for his soccer exploits. The MLS and U.S. Soccer scoring leader then went on to give a speech in which he thanked several including the kids that he grew up playing soccer with who helped inspire him to learn Spanish.
Although the video is entirely in Spanish, it's worth a watch given how emotional Donovan became at receiving such a distinct honor.
Check it out above.