CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are steadily approaching full fitness as a club and the latest player to near an injury return is midifielder Kyle Nakazawa.
Nakazawa has been unavailable since June due to back spasms –which he describes as a herniated disc--, an injury that he suffered during a Reserve League match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 12th. After a long injury recovery, the 24-year-old winger from Torrance, Calif. has become a regular fixture at Galaxy training once again, even taking part in ball work on Thursday.
Although there is no timetable yet for the winger’s return to the field, Nakazawa is pleased with his recuperation
Below are Nakazawa’s thoughts on returning to full fitness...
(On his rising level of fitness…)
NAKAZAWA: “It’s going well. I’m just trying to get my fitness back and since I’ve been out for almost two months, it’s going to take a little time. I’m just trying to be patient and not get too frustrated just trying to get into game fitness again.”
(On his fitness level currently…)
NAKAZAWA: “I’m pretty much back, I’m just trying to get my fitness level right. I was on the ball today and I felt pretty sharp on the ball, but I have to build on my fitness because when I get in game situations there’s going to be a lot more pressure.”
(On any frustrations at being out for nearly two months…)
NAKAZAWA: “No one likes to be injured and you definitely see things from a different perspective when you’re injured. Sometimes when you’re playing, you can take things for granted, but when you’re hurt it makes you appreciate it a lot more. So I’ve kind of been taking the last few weeks to watch the game and get stronger mentally so I’ll be stronger when I come back.”
CARSON, Calif – Following in the footsteps of the likes of Jose Villarreal and Jack McBean, LA Galaxy Academy player Raul Mendiola is the latest Galaxy youth player to make a splash at the Reserve League level.
With LA needing a spark off the bench in a match against the Chivas USA reserves on Tuesday, the Galaxy brought on the fleet-footed Mendiola in the 72nd minute for Kenney Walker. Using his trademark speed, the 18-year-old winger made an immediate impact, helping create the game’s only goal just six minutes later. After slicing through the Chivas defense, Mendiola fired a shot on frame that was blocked by Rojiblancos goalkeeper Tim Melia, the rebound fell perfectly for McBean who tapped in the game’s only goal.
“Raul is a very talented player,” said Villarreal after the Galaxy’s 1-0 victory. “He’s not the strongest player, but he’s a very smart player and he’s skillful with the ball. He came in [during Tuesday’s Reserve League game] and gave us energy and because of him, we got the goal.”
The past year has been a rollercoaster of sorts for The Mexican native from Rialto High School. After a successful stint with Temecula-based youth club Arsenal, Mendiola embarked on a pair of trials with European giants Manchester City and Valencia before returning to the Galaxy.
Upon returning from a brief sojourn in Europe, Mendiola immediately showed why he is considered one of LA’s top prospects for a Homegrown contract as he helped the Galaxy’s U-17s to a GA Cup title last August.
“He’s a young player and his strength is as a guy that can come off the bench,” said Reserve League head coach Curt Onalfo, who has compared Mendiola to DC United’s Andy Najar. “To help him understand tactically how to help out on both sides of the ball and get a fitness level where he’s able to complete at longer stretches that’s all part of his development and those are all of the things that we’re working with him.”
Friends on and off the field, Villarreal and Mendiola are inseparable during Galaxy training sessions, frequently taking part in goalscoring contests long after practice is over. While Villarreal has become one of the most talked about academy products in MLS in recent weeks, he believes that Mendiola is capable of even greater things.
“We’re on the same level,” said Villarreal. “We’re there with each other and we support each other and I’m very happy to see him do some good stuff.”
As Mendiola continues his development, Villarreal has been quick to provide a few words of wisdom to his friend.
“I just tell him to keep working. He’ll get his minutes,” said Villarreal. “It’s like me, I had to go through the same thing and now I’m getting more minutes, but he just has to keep working.”
On Wednesday, the MLS' Board of Governors unveiled their new tie-breaker rules for the 2012 playoffs to the public and the change could have a major impact on the LA Galaxy.
The most important change is that MLS has opted to use Goals For as the first standings tie-breaker with Goal Differential being moved to the second determinant of standings positioning (A complete look at the tiebreaker rules can be found here). This could benefit the Galaxy as the club is has currently scored 39 goals this season -- the second best total in MLS, six behind the first place San Jose Earthquakes -- and goal differetial of zero.
What are your thoughts on the tie-breaker switch? Will this help the Galaxy or hurt them?
CARSON, Calif. -- At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, the 18-year-old Jose Villarreal does not look like the most physical player, but during the Galaxy Homegrown player's recent rise, physicality has become an important part to the young forward's game.
After battling against the likes of Real Madrid's Pepe and Tottenham Hotspur's Jan Vertonghen's Villarreal has become skilled at holding up the ball against larger and more physical defenders. Throughout Tuesday's Reserve League victory over Chivas USA, Villarreal was not afraid to mix it up with burly Chivas center backs Nelson Akwari and Rauwshan McKenzie, this was most apparent late in the first when Akwari attempted to force the diminutive Villarreal off the ball near the Chivas box, but Villarreal was able to out-muscle the veteran defender and ultimately push him away to fire a shot on frame.
For a young forward, who is less than a month removed from is professional debut, physicality is just the latest weapon added to his arsenal.
"It was a tough game," said Villarreal. "They were very physical in the back and if you take a lot more touches than you're supposed to then they'll hit you so I was able to hold up the ball and make some good runs and help us get the win."
We may be three months way from the start of the MLS Cup playoffs, but each and every game from August until October is extremely vital for playoff seeding.
If the season ended today, the fifth-seeded LA Galaxy would take on fourth-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place in the Western Conference First Round knock out round on either October 31st or November 1st. The winner would take on the current first place San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference semifinals, a two-leg series starting either November 3rd or November 4th. Currently the Galaxy have ten games left on the docket starting with Sunday's Superclásico against Chivas USA.
Below are the tiebreakers determined by the league's Board of Governors. One note, however, unlike in years past head-to-head records will not be used a tie-breaker as teams do not play every opponent an equal number of times.
1) Goals For (See column labeled GF on www.MLSsoccer.com/standings page)
2) Goal Differential (GD)
3) Fewest Disciplinary Points (Posted here)
4) Road Goals
5) Road Goal Differential
6) Home Goals
7) Home Goal Differential
8) Coin Toss (2 teams) or Drawing of Lots (3 or more)
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy reserves scored a 1-0 victory over the Chivas USA reserves on Tuesday afternoon on a goal from Jack McBean.
McBean was among several who impressed in the Reserve League SuperClásico -- or "El Clásico Reserva" as I like to call it -- as well as Jose Villarreal and academy player Raul Mendiola -- more on him in the morning -- who helped McBean set up the goal. My profile on McBean's performance can be found here while MLSsoccer.com's Scott French wrote this story on the return of Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant, who went 90 minutes in the Reserve League victory.
A recap from LAGalaxy.com with interviews from McBean, Reserves head coach Curt Onalfo and Jose Villarreal can be found below:
CARSON, Calif. -- Edson Buddle had targeted a return in Tuesday's Reserve League match against Chivas USA, but it was not to be.
Buddle, who underwent right knee surgery for a torn meniscus in June, was initially on the game day roster for the reserve team's match was withheld due to a precaution.
"He had a little bit of swellness and we just wanted to be on the safe side," said reserve league team head coach Curt Onalfo following LA's 1-0 reserve league victory. "No reason to cause issues there."
Buddle did participate in a fitness session on Tuesday morning.
CARSON, Calif. – The news of the untimely death of Columbus Crew midfielder Kirk Urso stunned the American Soccer community and those reverberations were felt in the LA Galaxy locker room.
The LA Galaxy will have a golden opportunity to put a 4-0 defeat to the Seattle Sounders behind them this week as they face off against Chivas USA in the Superclásico.
With the two clubs in the midst of a playoff chase, emotions are high on both sides heading into Superclásico week.
The run down of the week's events is below:
8/7 - LA Galaxy vs. Chivas USA Reserve League match: Home Depot Center Field #1 at 11am. Parking and Admission to the match are free. More details on the match and parking information can be found here
8/9 -BarraClásico: Home Depot Center Field #5 beginning at 6pm.
*LA Galaxy staff vs. Chivas USA staff - 6pm. (Chivas USA Staff lead 2-0)
*LA Riot Squad vs. Black Army 1850 - 7:30pm. (LARS lead series 2-0)
*Angel City Brigade vs. Union Ultras - 9pm. (Series tied 1-1)
8/12 - Chivas USA vs. LA Galaxy - 8pm on ESPN.2 (Series tied 1-1)
SEATTLE – Playing on the right flank, Sean Franklin expected to play a major role during the Galaxy's match against the Seattle Sounders, but ultimately, it was not the impact that Franklin wanted.
As the Galaxy fell 4-0 to the Sounders on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, the normally steady Franklin struggled against the Seattle outside backs who were able to limit his chances and prevent the midfielder from aiding in the attack. Throughout the match, Franklin had difficulty connecting in the final third as he was dispossessed a total of 13 times, ultimately leading to his substitution in the 57th minute.
Although it was a difficult match for Franklin, his performance could see him shifted back to his familiar right back spot with A.J. DeLaGarza potentially teaming up with Omar Gonzalez in the back four.
Franklin’s thoughts on his showing are below…
(On the result…)
FRANKLIN: “As a team, we just didn’t play well tonight. We were bad defensively and offensively. Even though we had the ball, we didn’t create too many scoring chances, we only had a few shots and Bruce was saying that our first shot didn’t come till after the 80th minute and that’s unacceptable for the kind of team that we have. But we have to put this game behind us and worry about Chivas, that’s a must win game on Sunday.”
(On LA's struggles on the flanks…)
FRANKLIN: “They did a good job defensively, I had a couple of passes that weren’t good on the day and I have to be better to help my team out offensively. It’s just a rough day for our team and as I said, we got to put this one behind us and get it better for next weekend.”
(On his assessment of his own performance…)
FRANKLIN: “It’s still pretty new to me, there are a lot of things that I need to get better at in that position. That’s something that I try to do and I want to work on it to get better as a midfielder. I know that my primary position is right back and even though I’m comfortable at the right back position, I also want to be better at right midfield. It’s something that I’ve got to adjust to and get better if I’m going to be playing more right midfield then right back this year.”