A few notes to get you through the morning and into your Saturday.
*Landon Donovan appeared on ESPN's College Gameday on Saturday serving as the "celebrity picker" for Saturday's College Football slate. The LA Galaxy captain revealed that he would have attended UCLA had he not signed for German club Bayer Leverkusen at age 16. During his picks, Donovan selected No. 1 ranked Notre Dame over USC -- a selection that he admits was influenced by Mike Magee -- and No. 8 Stanford over No. 17 UCLA.
*There are still two more days to vote for Marcelo Sarvas, who is in the quarterfinals of FutbolMLS.com's Latino del Año 2012 (Latino of the Year). The semifinalists will be announced on Monday.
*Across the hall at The Home Depot Center, Chivas USA's Juan Agudelo is making a good impression during his training stint with Scottish club Celtic. Could it lead to an extended training stint or perhaps a transfer?
*Lastly, a programming note, I'll be on Philadelphia's 860AM "Vuvuzela-blast" radio show at 1 p.m. PT talking MLS Cup and David Beckham. Be sure to listen along.
As you start to wind your night down, here are a few evening notes.
*LA Galaxy Under-18 midfielder Paul Arriola started and went 45 minutes, earning an assist as well as a yellow card in the U.S. Under-18 squad's 2-2 draw with Canada on Friday.
* U.S. National Team midfielder Jose Francisco Torres completed a move from Mexican club Pachuca to Tigres UNAL.
*2012 Rookie of the Year Austin Berry will join teammate Jalil Anibaba in a training stint with Spanish giants Atlético Madrid from Nov. 25 to Dec. 9. Anibaba is training with Atléti from Nov. 18 to Dec. 2
*Soccer By Ives released the first edition of their 2013 MLS Draft Big Board on Friday evening. Included in the 40-player list are seven players from five different California universities.
CARSON, Calif. – Jose Villarreal sounded his arrival in MLS with an late bomb against Vancouver Whitecaps FC for his first career goal back in July, but the 19-year-old forward believes that the events of 2012 are just the beginning of a promising career.
In his rookie season for LA, “the kid from Inglewood” as he’s called by some Galaxy fans has made 14 appearances in all competitive competitions, scoring two goals. The 19-year-old had an even larger impact in MLS Reserve League play, making nine appearances while scoring three goals. Although the youngster made only 11 appearances in MLS regular season and postseason play, Villarreal has become a key member of LA's rotation since being added to the club's roster on July 14 as he has made the game day roster in 23 of the Galaxy's last 24 games in all competitions.
Villarreal admits that while his season has been an incredible ride, he’s hoping for even more next year.
“It’s been an amazing season," Villarreal said after LA's final practice before the Thanksgiving holiday break on Wednesday. "I was just trying to come in as a rookie in the middle of the season and hoping to get some minutes. I feel happy but at the same time, not satisfied because I haven’t been performing the way that I want to, but I’ve been looking to get better and better for next year."
Lost in the shuffle of the craziness of the past week and the Thanksgiving Holiday, the Professional Referee Organization announced earlier in the week that newly crowned Referee of the Year Silviu Petrescu will officiate the 2012 MLS Cup between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo on Dec. 1 at The Home Depot Center.
Petrescu worked 20 MLS regular season games this season as well as one postseason game -- LA's 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Nov. 12. The Canadian referee officiated three matches apiece for the Galaxy and Houston as well as their May 26 meeting at BBVA Compass Stadium.
A complete breakdown of Petrescu's games with LA and Houston as well as his complete officiating crew is below.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. LA GALAXY
5/26 - HOU 2 LA 1. FOULS: 20 (10 for Houston and 10 for LA); CAUTIONS: 4 (1 for Houston and 3 for LA)
11/1 - LA 2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1. FOULS: 24 (12 for LA and 12 for Vancouver); CAUTIONS: 4 (2 for LA and 2 for Vancouver); PENALTIES: 1 (Converted by LA)
7/18 - Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 LA 2. FOULS: 35 (16 for Vancouver and 19 for LA); CAUTIONS: 4 (1 for Vancouver and 3 for LA)
8/3 - HOU 2 New York Red Bulls 0. FOULS: 20 (10 for Houston and 10 for NYRB); CAUTIONS: 2 (Houston
3/11 - Chivas USA 0 HOU 1. FOULS: 26 (12 for Chivas and 14 for Houston); CAUTIONS: 1 (Houston)
2012 MLS Cup Officiating Crew
REFEREE: SILVIU PETRESCU
ASST 1: Daniel Belleau
ASST 2: Darren Clark
4TH: Hilario Grajeda
Marcelo Sarvas is into the Quarterfinals of FutbolMLS.com's Latino del Año 2012 or Latino Player of the Year.
Sarvas is matched up against FC Dallas' Panamaian forward Blas Pérez in the quarterfinals. The Brazilian, who joined the club from Costa Rican side Alajuelense during the offseason has made 37 appearances for the LA Galaxy in all competitive matches this year, tallying two goals and two assists. Meanwhile Perez made 20 appearances for FCD in 2012, scoring nine goals as well as four assists.
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or just Thursday, I wanted to take a moment to offer my thanks to all of those that have supported the LA Galaxy Insider since the blog's inception in July.
I know that I'm incredibly thankful to have the ability to serve as the LA Galaxy Insider and for all my interactions with players, journalists, staff, and fans.
On this holiday, a few members of the LA Galaxy including head coach Bruce Arena took part in the Foundations' Feast, which is an annual Thanksgiving Dinner for children and families in need hosted by the LA Galaxy Foundation and The Home Depot Center Charitable Foundation. Check out some photos from that event here.
One MLSsoccer.com reporter Jonah Freedman wrote the following piece stating how thankful he is for David Beckham's six-year career in MLS. Be sure to watch my interview with the LA Galaxy midfielder as we close into the final game of his Galaxy career, the 2012 MLS Cup Final on Dec. 1 against the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
To get you through the evening, here are a few links and notes from around the soccer world to take you to the Thanksgiving holiday
*There will be a professional women's soccer league in the United States in 2013, but there will not be a team in California. U.S. Soccer revealed the details of a new women's league during a teleconference with the media on Wednesday morning. The league, which will start in March or April of 2013 will consist of eight teams in Boston, Washington, D.C., Western New York, New Jersey, Kansas City, Chicago, Portland, and Seattle. Details of the new league can be found here.
*LA Galaxy Under-18 midfielder Paul Arriola started for the United States Under-18s as they defeated their Canadian counterparts, 3-1 on Wednesday at The Home Depot Center. According to reports, Arriola enjoyed a strong game, creating several dangerous scoring chances for himself.
*In MLS Cup news, Darrell Lovell of MLSsoccer.com reports that Houston Dynamo forward Calen Carr is "cautiously inching back to full health." The former University of California, Berkeley man picked up a left hamstring strain in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Sporting Kansas City. Carr scored four goals and two assists in 26 MLS Regular Season appearances for the Dynamo this season and has two assists in three games in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
*Chelsea FC have a new manager as former Liverpool FC and CF Valencia boss Rafael Benitez will replace Roberto Di Matteo at Stamford Bridge on an interim basis until the end of the year. Di Matteo was sacked on Tuesday afternoon after falling to Italian club Juventus in a UEFA Champions League match.
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy took part in their final training session on Wednesday before a three day break for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Before the Galaxy players crisscross the country for the holiday, they took part in a brisk session at the training ground in the shadow of The Home Depot Center. The holiday break will be the club’s biggest in a month ahead of their most important game of the season, the 2012 MLS Cup which takes place on Dec. 1 at The HDC.
Below Bruce Arena, Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee, Sean Franklin, and Jose Villarreal discuss the implications of the holiday break on the team.
ARENA: “I think [it’s good]. Hopefully we can get back into the swing of things quickly [on Sunday]. With the game still a bit away, we can afford the three days and hopefully it’ll get the guys rested and ready to go next week.”
DUNIVANT: “We need the break, it’s been a long five playoff games in a very short amount of time. We had a really good tough session today and I think we felt our heavy legs, so it’ll be good to get time off and regroup, regenerate, and be ready to come back sharp next week.”
FRANKLIN: “I wish it wasn’t such a big break. Last year, there was also two weeks between the conference game and the MLS Cup and it’d be nice to have the game this week to keep the momentum from our game this past Sunday. It is what it is, it’s nice to have a few days off to get a few guys healthy who have a few knocks and nicks. [When] we come back from this break, it’s time to crack down and get things sharp for December 1.”
MAGEE: “I think it’s good. We got some guys banged up that we want to get back. A bunch of guys are ill and I don’t think that Seattle weather helped us too much. I think we think we needed this break, obviously, we would have liked a break before, but we’ll take it now.”
VILLARREAL: “Since the Seattle game, I think about the final every day, but it’s good to have a couple of days off and to with the family and enjoy that time. Then we get back to business and get to it to win that cup again.”
CARSON, Calif. -- The United States Under-20's learned their opponents for the group stage of 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico, which serves as the qualifying tournament for the 2013 Under-20 World Cup.
The Americans were awarded the top seed in Group A for the tournament that takes place from February 18 through March 2 and will take on Costa Rica and Haiti. The top two nations in each of the four groups will reach the quarterfinals while the four nations that advance to the semifinals will move on to the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey. (The complete schedule for the CONCACAF tournament can be found here.)
One player that is expected to be on the field for the Americans in Mexico is LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal, who is hopeful that he can become a key part of U-20 head coach Tab Ramos' squad.
“That’s important for me getting to be with the Under-20s and getting ready for qualifiers and hopefully we make it to the World Cup," said Villarreal. "It’s going to get me fitter and expose me to different players, different coaches, and different styles of play.”
With World Cup qualifying in his sights, Villarreal admits that he’s certainly learned a great deal during his U-20 experience.
“It’s definitely positive in every way," said Villarreal. "It’s a little similar to what the national team is like and it’s always fun to be around a group of guys that are the best in their age group. It’s just fun because you can learn a lot from them and we’re all friends and it’s always fun to play with friends.”
David Beckham may be playing his last game for the LA Galaxy on Dec. 1 in MLS Cup 2012 at The Home Depot Center against the Houston Dynamo, but AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke is adamant that the only place for the club to move in the post-Beckham era is forward.
In the second and final part of his exclusive interview with LA Galaxy Insider on Tuesday evening, Leiweke discussed the Galaxy brand and what is next for the team after David Beckham. (Part one is here.)
One of the largest spots of growth has been on the brand side where LA have grown exponentially. Last November, the Galaxy signed a 10-year $55 million television contract with Time Warner Cable Sports, the most lucrative in MLS history and in March signed a 10-year $44 million dollar sponsorship extension with Herbalife—also the most lucrative in MLS history—to be the official presenting sponsor and jersey sponsor of the Galaxy.
“We created one of the top brands in soccer in the world and I think people know the Galaxy worldwide. I’m always traveling around the world to all of our different companies and assets and I see Galaxy jerseys in China, I see Galaxy jerseys in Europe and London, so I think it’s unique that we’ve been able to take an MLS club in a country that people thought didn’t care about soccer and make it one of the more recognizable soccer brands in the world.”
“That is a credit to David and the fact that he not only put us on the map, but made a statement once we got there. That’s not going to go away, everyone always underestimates Robbie Keane, but the man is to this day still one of the top 10 scorers in the history of the Premier League and we have arguably one of the best American players who has ever played the game,” Leiweke added. “These are guys that are 31, 32 years old and they’re not going anywhere, so as much as David put us on the map, we got a team, a coach and an organization that aren’t going anywhere and we’re going to continue to grow. So as sad as I am to see David leave because he is a friend and a tremendous influence on this organization, that said, this is the right time.”
Although Beckham will depart the club next month, Leiweke reveals that conversations about the Galaxy’s next step have been ongoing for months.
“Bruce, Chris Klein and I have spent a lot of time talking in the last three or four months about where we go next. You know, we’re very fortunate to have Juninho and Sarvas. We’re not lacking for good creative midfielders and they’re young and hopefully this gives us resources to keep that nucleus intact,” said Leiweke. “We’re lucky we have Robbie Keane, he makes this a much easier transition, we’re lucky we have Landon Donovan. Frankly, I think from a player standpoint, I don’t think we miss a beat next year. I love David, but I think David would be the first to tell you that with Juninho and Sarvas, we got a pretty potent midfield, so I don’t think you’re going to see slippage here.”
And of that designated player spot? Leiweke admits that the club is going to look for the right fit, not just the first player that comes along.
“Yes, it does give us a DP slot, but don’t expect us to rush out and go fill it. We’re going to fill it with the right guy and it’s the right guy for this marketplace, the right guy for Bruce and the team that he and Chris want to build,” said Leiweke. “Chris and I have spent a lot of time talking about where we go find that next guy. It’s going to have to be the right guy not the first guy, which means maybe we’re patient for a year or two until we get the right guy.”