CARSON, Calif. -- Sometimes sports takes a back seat to real life and on Wednesday, Kofi Opare paid tribute to his fallen friend Arif Merani after scoring his first career MLS goal in the LA Galaxy's 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact.
After scoring in the 68th minute, Opare lifted his shirt to reveal a "R.I.P. Arif" message to honor Merani, who died on Monday after being struck by a car while attempting to change a flat tire as drove back to Carleton University after spending the Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday with family in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Merani and Opare both attended Saint Paul Catholic High School and were neighbors.
Once Opare learned about Merani's death, he knew what he was going to honor his friend: score a goal.
“I said I was going to honor him by scoring. I said I was going to score and dedicate it to him,” said Opare of his high school friend from Niagara Falls, Ontario. “I told people I was going to score my first goal for him. I'm glad that all went to plan, I guess, and we got the three points.”
A snap shot courtesy of LA Galaxy photographer Robert Mora is below.
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena's thoughts from LA's 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact.
(On his overall thoughts of the game...)
ARENA: “All I told our team was a great win, maybe not a great game, but a great win.”
(On the play of Brian Rowe...)
ARENA: “He needs to be active and get off his line. I think with [Marco] Di Vaio on the field, he’s always going to be a player pursuing opportunities in the penalty area. If you don’t come off your line, he’s going to knick one. I thought Brian Rowe’s aggressiveness was a big part of our success today.”
On the goal scored by Kofi Opare...)
ARENA: “Not surprising that the goal came off a bit of a scramble, which was likely expected given the circumstances of the game and all. Give Kofi [Opare] a lot of credit, Robbie [Keane] kept the ball alive. We had a couple of other chances during the game. I think their keeper did well. I think in the first half we were very poor technically, too slow on ball. When we got into the second half, we got a little bit better. But we know we could be better than we were tonight.”
(On the play of Robbie Keane...)
ARENA: “I don’t know if you were surprised he didn’t start the game, he played 90 minutes last night in Dublin, I wouldn’t think we could get 90 minutes out of him tonight. I would have liked to have not played him, but we needed to get Robbie on the field and his presence was spectacular. He gave the team confidence, energy, and the technical ability we needed to try and break this team down. He told me he was playing, I have been in touch with him via text messages and he indicated to me from yesterday on that he was going to be ready and I said let’s wait and see. He arrived at 3’oclock today and he walked in and said he was ready to go to give us as many minutes as we need.”
(On the status of Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan for Sunday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes...)
ARENA: "We expect them to be ready to play this weekend."
Ahead of Wednesday's match against the Montreal Impact, MLSsoccer.com's Matthew Doyle breaks down the play of LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan and Montreal's Marco Di Vaio.
Check it out below.
It went down to the wire, but Jaime Penedo’s World Cup dream ended on Tuesday evening as Panama fell 3-2 to the United States.
Panama needed only a Mexico defeat to Costa Rica and a win over the U.S. to qualify and appeared to be on their way to the two-leg playoff with New Zealand when Luis Tejada broke a 1-1 deadlock with a goal in 84th minute. However, Panama’s hopes were dashed in stoppage time when the U.S. scored twice off goals from Graham Zusi and Aron Johansson to end Los Canaleros’ hopes of reaching Brazil.
With the defeat, Panama finishes in fifth in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying while Mexico earns a berth in the two-leg playoff against New Zealand in November.
Send positive vibes to Penedo in the comment section below.
In the latest edition of the LA Galaxy All-Access Podcast, I sit down with the "voice of the Galaxy" Joe Tutino to discuss the team's run to the postseason.
Check it out below...
CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan’s bid to appear in the LA Galaxy’s match against the Montreal Impact is going to come right down to the wire.
Donovan is still dealing with a left ankle injury that forced him to withdraw early from international duty with the U.S. National Team. According to Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, there is still no update on Donovan -- or defender Omar Gonzalez who is dealing with a left hip strain -- but in an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Donovan admitted that he’s “day-to-day” with an injury that may have been worse than he and the Galaxy initially feared.
“[I'm] not feeling great, but we're going to try to manage it the right way because it’s a little worse than we thought initially. We're going to be smart about it and try to get it ready for a push at the end of the season,” Donovan said. “Something got worse, so it's hard to know if there was an incident or if was just some wear and tear or something, but somewhere along the way, it took a wrong turn.”
With the Galaxy preparing to play a pair of matches this week against Montreal and the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday—where LA can clinch a berth in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs with a victory—Donovan admits that he must be "smart" when deciding when to play.
“We're always hopeful that you wake up one day and it feels good and you can play, and that's how we're going to take it every day,” said Donovan. “It's felt better the last few days by just resting, but we have to wake up and see how it is tomorrow. I’m going to be smart about it. The way that it’s going to be is that to make sure that it's in a position so you're not doing more damage, but if I can play, I want to play.”
If Donovan does participate, he'll have a chance to take sole possession of MLS’ all-time regular season goal scoring record. Donovan is currently tied with Jeff Cunningham with 134 goals.
Robbie Keane scored once and went 90 minutes as Ireland closed out World Cup qualifying with a 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan in Dublin on Tuesday.
The LA Galaxy captain nodded a penalty kick in the 17th minute to equalize after the Kazakhs had taken an early lead. From there, it was all Ireland as John O’Shea found the back of the net in the 26th minute before Kevin Doyle set up a Dmitri Shomko own goal give the Irish a 3-1 win.
With Germany defeating Sweden 5-3 and Austria blowing past the Faroe Islands 3-0, Ireland finished in fourth place in Group C.
The Montreal Impact will travel to StubHub Center on Wednesday without four regulars from their starting XI.
Montreal captain Davy Arnaud and starting center back Matteo Ferrari are suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation after picking up cautions in the Impact’s 1-0 defeat to the New England Revolution last week. Also missing will be starting right back Jeb Brovsky, who remains out with a broken toe. Those won’t be the only absences, however, as defender Alessandro Nesta reportedly will not travel to California according to reports.
Wednesday’s match is vitally important for the Impact as they sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and can clinch a postseason berth through a series of results this week.
Think the Galaxy may have a better chance of knocking out the Impact with their absences?
Share your thoughts.
LAGalaxy.com videographer Paolo Ferrari spoke to Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, and Sean Franklin ahead Wednesday's match between the LA Galaxy and the Montreal Impact.
Check the video out below...
CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez is optimistic about his status for this Wednesday’s match against the Montreal Impact, but whether he suits up for the LA Galaxy remains up in the air.
Gonzalez was unable to travel on international duty after suffering a left hip strain during the first half of LA’s 5-0 victory over Chivas USA on Oct. 6. Although the injury flared up against Chivas, Gonzalez told reporters on Monday that he has dealt with the strain since the Galaxy’s 2012 MLS Cup victory nearly a year ago.
Although he was disappointed about not suiting up for the United States, Gonzalez is optimistic that he’ll be able to be ready for Wednesday’s match against Montreal.
“I think that I might be ready for Wednesday, but let’s see what my body says,” said Gonzalez, who turned 25 on Saturday. “We’ll talk with the coaches and physios and see what they think.
“If it’s possible, I’d like to play in both games [this week],” Gonzalez later added. “I want to be in every game that I’m available for. If I can play in Wednesday’s game then I want to play, but if not then we have to reassess and see if I can go for Sunday.”
Gonzalez may be optimistic about his status, but LA head coach Bruce Arena stated on Monday that there has been no decision made about the defender or Landon Donovan, who returned from international duty due to an ankle injury on Sunday.
“We haven’t finalized anything yet,” Arena told reporters. “We’re hopeful that they’ll play on Wednesday.”
With the Galaxy on the brink of playoff qualification, Gonzalez is hopeful that he’ll be able to suit up in one of LA’s matches this week.
“This week is very important for us and, it’s important for every team in the league right now,” said Gonzalez. “This is what it comes down to. It’s the fun part of the season and we just have to make it happen."