We’re just a few hours away from tonight’s Knockout Round clash between the LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, here’s a few links to get you to the opening kickoff.
*Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit attests that HDC is no house of horrors for his team.
TODD DUNIVANT vs. DANE RICHARDS
The wily Galaxy left back will have his hands full as he attempts to shut down the speedy Jamaican.
ROBBIE KEANE vs. JAY DEMERIT
Perhaps the biggest battle of the night, Keane will attempt to use his ball skills and speed to take on the physical Whitecaps defender.
DAVID BECKHAM vs. BARRY ROBSON
The battle of experienced midfielders will be pivotal as LA look to break down Vancouver.
PREDICTED LINEUP: Saunders; Franklin, Gonzalez, Meyer, Dunivant; Donovan, Juninho, Beckham, Magee; Keane, Buddle
MLSsoccer.com has begun their voting for 2012 AT&T Goal of the Year and the LA Galaxy have three nominees in the first four group stages.
In Group 1, David Beckham's free kick strike against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sept. 1 faces a number of quality goals, including Darren Mattocks' infamous leaping header against Toronto FC on July 11. In Group 2, Marcelo Sarvas' goal against the Colorado Rapids on Sept. 30 takes on the competition that includes Chris Wondolowski's flick against the Galaxy on June 30. In Group 4, Galaxy golden boot winner Robbie Keane is represented for his classy finish against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 6.
Fan votes will ultimately break down 16 groups of 64 goals down into a final four, before the 2012 AT&T Goal of the Year is announced on Wednesday, November 29. Voting for these first four groups closes tonight at 11:59 pm PT. Groups 5-8 will be announced tomorrow.
CARSON, Calif. – Vancouver Whitecaps FC entered the postseason in less than impressive fashion, but according to their Knockout Round opponents, the LA Galaxy, that is of little concern.
Over the last ten games, the Whitecaps have earned just one win—a 4-0 drubbing of Chivas USA—, but when the schedule is extended to the last 17 matches, Vancouver has won just three times. To add to their end of the season woes, the Whitecaps have earned just one road win since July—a victory over the Colorado Rapids on July 4—going 0-7-2 in that nine game span.
Although that Vancouver have had their recent struggles, Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, who has played in his share of postseason and Cup matches over his career, admitted that there were such things as “underdogs” or “favorites” in a playoff match.
“People will be looking at them, maybe, as the underdogs, but I don’t see it that way,” said Beckham. “There are no underdogs in a one-off game in my eyes. They could come here and think that they’re playing in another stadium, all the pressure is off of them, and they’re going to come here and hopefully beat us.”
With that in mind, Beckham stated that there was no chance that LA will be overlooking a talented Vancouver side.
“Not in our locker room, none of our players are in that state of mind,” Beckham added. “We have to believe that we are very cautious of Vancouver because we know that they can play and cause us problems, and score goals. They have players that have played in Europe and played in big games in their team. So we’re well aware of their firepower and we’re well-aware that they’ll get every man behind the ball on every attack, so it’s up to us to be patient, but break them down when we can.”
If the Galaxy do bypass Vancouver, then they may be forced to where the title of underdogs as they look to defend their MLS Cup title, after having played an extra match then the rest of the Western Conference field.
However, according to Robbie Keane, the Galaxy are turning their back to such thoughts, choosing to focus on the task at hand.
“We don’t really think too much about it because we’re playing at home tomorrow. Obviously, it’s certainly an advantage for us when you’re playing in your home stadium. Listen, after this and hopefully we qualify for the final, its home and away until we get to the final…We’ll just continue and concentrate on tomorrow, and hopefully get a good win so we can look forward after that.”
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are aware that they’ll need to bring an attacking impetus in Thursday’s Knockout round match against Vancouver Whitecaps.
In Vancouver’s scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake, the Whitecaps conceded the ball to Salt Lake, allowing RSL to control 69 percent of possession. But through an organized 4-2-3-1, Vancouver negated many RSL attacks, and in fact enjoyed the finest chance of the night as a Darren Mattocks header was called back for offside.
As the Galaxy prepare for Thursday’s Knockout Round match against Vancouver, they know that they must find a way to break down the organized Whitecaps, but also be wary of their speed on the flanks.
“We have to assume that the way that they’ve spoken and the way that they played last week in Salt Lake is indicative of how they’re going to come here, and play,” said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. “If that’s the case, then two things need to happen. We need to be patient and very alert when they counter. They have two very dynamic attacking players in Dane [Richards] and Darren [Mattocks] who can really make you pay if you’re not alert. We have to be on our toes in that way and if a goal doesn’t come early, and we’re putting pressure on then we just got to be patient and keep going.”
While breaking through a Whitecaps defense anchored by defender Jay DeMerit promises to be difficult, LA are confident that they will be able to unlock Vancouver.
“That’s why we have good players here. We have players that can see situations and make things happen," said Keane. "If you look at the players that we have in the squad, we have players that are quite capable of unlocking defenses so it’s up to us. Who knows how they’re going to play, they might come out, and go for it all or they might sit out and catch us on the counter attack. We won’t know until tomorrow."
CARSON, Calif. -- The Home Depot Center has hardly been a place of success for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit attests that will not be on the mind of the 'Caps by the time that Thursday's Knockout Round match against the LA Galaxy kicks off.
In their two-year history in MLS, Vancouver have gone 1-3-2 at The HDC with their one defeat coming against Chivas USA in March, 2012 while their record against LA is 0-3-0 with zero goals scored. Although the Whitecaps are relishing their role as an underdog against the defending MLS Cup Champion Galaxy, DeMerit assured reporters after Wednesday's training session in Carson, that the venue was not going to be in the back of the Whitecaps' mind.
"Hopefully, we come in with a different mentality. We have won here, so it’s not like we have a jinx and we haven’t won in this stadium," said DeMerit. "I’m hoping that we don’t blame it on the stadium, but blame it on the opponent. What we can do is know that we have prepared for the opponent in the right way. Hopefully, the tactics will work and now we’re just looking forward to getting out there and battling it...It’s a great stadium, it’s a great surface. Some surfaces are harder to play on, but this one is good. We can get the ball down when needed and it’s always a good climate."
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have accomplished much during David Beckham’s tenure with the LA Galaxy, but as LA’s core enters the postseason for the fourth consecutive year together, there’s little doubt in Beckham’s mind that there is still much left to accomplish.
After re-signing with the club in January, Beckham has enjoyed another impressive season, playing in 24 matches while accruing seven goals, and nine assists. But even though the Englishman and LA have qualified for the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year, some have questioned when it will be time for the veteran-laden Galaxy to re-tool, and look to the future.
However, Beckham is paying little attention to those calls that say the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs may be a last hurrah of sorts for LA.
“Who knows, people said that last year. People said that we won the championship now and maybe it’s time to move some of the older players on, and start fresh. Sometimes that is the truth, but it’s been great for the last three or four years that we’ve all stayed together,” said Beckham. “It brings stability because if you’re with players for long enough, you get to know them on and off the field. It makes when you win a championship more special than anything. Who knows, it could be.”
When asked if this season could be his last, Beckham played it close to the vest stating that he’d rather wait until after the postseason to see how his body feels. That being said, the hyper-competitive Beckham adamantly stated that –potentially—winning two MLS Cup titles is not nearly enough for him.
“It doesn’t matter how many times that I win; I’ll always have that hunger,” said Beckham. “Even when I stop playing, I’ll have hunger to do something better and be the best at something, and always be successful. No matter where I am, no matter what age I am, no matter how many championships that I’ve won, I still wake up and still want to win another championship every year. That hunger is always going to be there."
CARSON, Calif. – In 2011, the LA Galaxy entered the MLS Cup Playoffs on a high as Supporters’ Shield winners, who went undefeated at The Home Depot Center en route to an MLS Cup title. But this season, the Galaxy overcame a slow start to enter the playoffs in the Knockout Round, where they’ll face fifth-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and defender Todd Dunivant have been in this situation before and admits that there are some parallels. In 2005, LA snuck into the postseason as the Western Conference’s lowest seed and then embarked on a dream run to the Final, knocking off the Supporters’ Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids, and New England Revolution as LA captured their second MLS Cup title.
“We had a certain confidence about us and a certain inner-knowledge about our team,” said Dunivant. “If you look at our team, we had an awesome team, maybe under performed in the regular season, but made no mistakes in the playoffs.”
Although a shocking moment like Guillermo “El Pando” Ramirez’s goal in extra time of the MLS Cup final with the Galaxy’s cadre of superstars and renown role players, Dunivant believes that experience is analogous to LA’s current situation of, perhaps, underperforming in the regular season.
“Yeah I’d say that 3-8-2 is underperforming to start the year and we’ve righted the ship since then, so all that doesn’t matter,” Dunivant said. “We’ve done what we needed to do to get into the playoffs and now it’s time to make it count when it matters most.”
But according to Donovan, the difference is the amount of experience that LA’s current team have as opposed to the side that won the 2005 final.
“I guess the difference is that we have the experience of having done it and so that really helps. At the end of the day, if you play well it doesn’t matter, but if you play well, it doesn’t matter, but if you play well and get into certain situations then you can always draw back on, “okay this is what we need to do in certain situations, if we get down a goal, if we get down two goals, if we go up a goal, if we go up two goals.”
“We know how to manage it and we know how to win games when they’re knockout games when they’re knockout games, and your season is over if you lose,” Donovan added. “We know how to handle that and if we play the right way then that might be a huge advantage for us.”
The LA Galaxy issued their official injury report on Oct. 30, but unlike previous weeks there were no changes.
The complete report is below...
OUT: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain); DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); DF David Junior Lopes (L facial fracture); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (L ankle soreness); MF Landon Donovan (L knee bone bruise)
CARSON, Calif. -- After Vancouver Whitecaps FC earned an important scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 26 with his Scottish Designated Player duo of Barry Robson and Kenny Miller on the bench for most of the match, the Vancouver Sun speculated that 'Caps head coach Martin Rennie may leave the pair on the bench for the start of Thursday's Knockout Round game against the LA Galaxy.
Both players joined the Whitecaps in July and almost immediately immersed themselves in Rennie's starting XI with Robson playing 17 games with three goals and two assists, while Miller participated in 13 matches, notching two goals and one assists. But even though Miller and Robson are integral pieces in Vancouver's offense, the Galaxy are waiting for the Whitecaps to make the first move.
"We'll just have to wait and see, they obviously had a good performance on the road in their last game," said defender Todd Dunivant. "Those guys didn't start, but they obviously came in and contributed. I wouldn't be surprised either way."
While Dunivant admits that Rennie could decide either way, Associate head coach Dave Sarachan believes that LA will see the two Scottish DPs on the field at some point on Thursday.
"We'll see them, I'm not sure how it's going to play out whether they're starters from the beginning of the game or they're brought into the game," said Sarachan. "I would find it hard to believe that we don't see them in one capacity or the other."
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena discussed Thursday's Knockout Round match between the LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a league teleconference.
Below is a transcript of Arena's thoughts...
(On Vancouver struggling heading into the playoffs…)
ARENA: “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s a fresh tournament. We’ve had in recent history in our league, team that go under the radar, so to speak, and go on to win the cup. 2009 and 2010 are examples where I think Salt Lake and Colorado qualify for the tournament on the last day and then went on to win it. So whatever happened during the regular season for Vancouver or Los Angeles really doesn’t matter at this point.”
(On what he expects Vancouver to do with recently benched Designated Players Barry Robson and Kenny Miller...)
ARENA: “I really don’t know. There’s no point in me spending a whole lot of time and energy on it. They’re obviously going to be on the field at some point, whether they start or not is a decision for [Vancouver] Coach [Martin] Rennie to make. Our main focus is certainly getting our team prepared to play and not being too concerned with the lineup that Vancouver comes out with.”
(On Vancouver’s strongest points…)
ARENA: “I think there strong point is they’ve decided pretty much how they’re going to come out and play this game I guess from their preparation for the Salt Lake game. They’re focused on keeping it real tight in the back and picking their spots to go forward on the break, trying to get some restarts and trying to win a game that way. They got a dress rehearsal, as they say, during the Salt Lake game so I think that a strength for them.”
(On whether Vancouver have any weaknesses…)
ARENA: “Not anything that I think sticks out and I think at this point, as I’ve said, every team in the championship run is capable of winning.”
(On what Robbie Keane has meant to the Galaxy…)
ARENA: “Since he became a part of the Galaxy in the summer of 2011, he’s been a leader on the field and off and obviously his goal scoring speaks for itself. It’s really that simple, he’s a personality, he’s a quality attacking player and he makes our team different.”
(On whether he is surprised Keane made the transition to MLS so well, so quickly:
ARENA: “Robbie has a long history and I think everywhere he’s gone, for the most part, he’s been pretty good. He got through the transition a lot quicker than most players.”
(On Landon Donovan moving to midfield in the season finale…)
ARENA: “We haven’t made any decisions on how we’re going to pair our guys in the playoffs. There’s only one game, the last game, where you saw that. Landon’s been out for a while so we haven’t had that opportunity. We had the opportunity to play Edson with Robbie a little bit so we took advantage of that, but certainly as we attempt to move forward in this tournament there’s going to be plenty of times that we’ll see Landon and Robbie together and Edson and Robbie together.”
(On how they got through the slow start to the season…)
ARENA: “With every team, every year is different, with every game it’s different and through experience you kind of understand how to work through your good moments and your bad moments. We just simply dealt with it one day at a time, one game at a time and tried to find the right formula for our team, tried to get them as healthy as possible. We had a lot of unusual circumstances during the year: injuries, issues with player departures, whether it was David around the Olympics or even at times Landon was released for a friendly game outside a FIFA window. We figured out what worked best for us. We had one thing after another snowballing itself and it made it difficult to get a team in rhythm and really basically throughout the year we never had a full lineup in so all we did was plug away and week-to-week, game-to-game tried to find the right way to be successful with the group we had. And obviously Omar returned in July and made things better, and then recently we lost A.J., so it’s been one of those years. I don’t think there’s any simple answer to your question, we just tried to the best we could. We have a group with a good attitude. The last half of the season, our last 17 games we have 34 points, which is actually above our rate from last year when we had such a good year. It’s a lot to be said about the group and how they dealt with adversity and came back and had a good performance to position ourselves to be back in the hunt for the MLS Cup.”
(On whether the team is finally finding its rhythm from last season…)
ARENA: “We’re a lot closer. I think these things, you’re never quite sure. This is a whole different competition now than the last 34 games and it’ll test us in terms of the depth of our team, the fitness of our players. I think we’re coming close, but I think you’re going to see because of the structure of this tournament this year with so many games in a short period of time that teams are going to have to use more players than they would prefer probably. And maybe you won’t have the kind of rhythm you want to have. For ourselves there’s going to be one game after another, hopefully, over the next couple weeks so that’s a challenge. But even for the teams that enter the tournament over the weekend it’s a three game a week rhythm and a lot of stuff is going to happen from suspensions to fatigue to injuries so it’ll be a challenge for everyone. And it may not be as easy to get teams in rhythm as well.”
(On Tommy Meyer and how he has done since taking over for injured A.J. DeLaGarza…)
ARENA: “He’s doing very well. He started the year where it was a little difficult for him being a young player coming into the league and I think he, more than any player we’ve seen over the year has improved a lot. He’s absorbed a lot of information and he’s just done a great job for us over the last couple of months. We saw Tommy’s improvement and knew that if he had to be on the field on a regular basis for us, he’d be fine and I think he’s shown over the last month or so for us that he’s moving along well and he’s a good center back.”
(On developing partnership with Omar Gonzalez in central defense…)
ARENA: “I think every week those kind of relationships get better. They’ve certainly shown more confidence with each other.”
(On the first leg of the semifinal against San Jose being listed on the club’s website…)
ARENA: “I basically have no idea what you’re talking about. But I would think every team in this tournament has an understanding when the games are being played and if they’re selling tickets I guess you have to have a notice on when potentially the next games are.”
(On being called a heavy favorite…)
ARENA: “We’re preparing our team to play on Thursday and we’re confident that we can win the game, period. We respect Vancouver, but we’re going to step on the field and try to win whether it’s Vancouver or any other team in the tournament. That’s our attitude, to get on the field and secure the win.”
(On whether he feels that being the favorite puts more pressure on his team…)
ARENA: “I haven’t spoken to any of the odds makers for the game and don’t know any of that. All we’re doing is getting our team ready to play. We’ve been in the playoffs before and we understand the challenges that are associated with this and we’re using those experiences to hopefully prepare ourselves like we have over the last four years.”