LA Galaxy second round draft pick Kofi Opare spent his entire life crisscrossing the globe with his family and now the 22-year-old defender is with the Galaxy, he's hoping to settle with LA.
I recently spoke to the 2013 MLS Super Draft's 24th overall selection to discuss his unique past as well as how the former Michigan defender believes that he fits into the Galaxy's deep centerback core.
CARSON, Calif. -- The champions of the United States and Mexico will face off on Feb. 19 at The Home Depot Center as the LA Galaxy take on the reigning Liga MX titleholders Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles.
Tickets for the match are 10 dollars and Galaxy season ticket holders will receive a pair for free. The match, which is slated for 7:30 is main event of a series of activities that begin at 4:30 p.m. when the Galaxy Under-18's will take on Tijuana's U-18's on University Field #5. Then at 6:30, fans will be able to participate in a townhall meeting with Galaxy President Chris Klein, AEG Sports Chief Operating Officer Kelly Cheeseman and Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena in front of section 132.
The primary question surrounding Tijuana, however, is just who will suit up for the club as they will take on Colombian side Colombian side Millonarios in the Copa Libertadores that evening. But that is of little concern for Arena, who believes that Tijuana will offer a valuable challenge as the Galaxy prepare for the start of the season.
"We're getting close to opening day and we want to get our players there," said Arena. "Whether it's the reserves and some of the first team players, we don't know the composition [of Tijuana], but it’ll be a good game for our players and it gives our fans the opportunity to see us play as well so it’s a win, win situation for everyone."
Looking for a Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez or Robbie Keane bobblehead? Well, now you'll have your chance get one.
On Wednesday, the LA Galaxy announced the promotional schedule for the 2013 season, which includes three bobblehead nights as well as an MLS Cup ring replica giveaway. The schedule also revealed the date of LA's third kit unveiling which will take place on Aug. 17 vs. Real Salt Lake.
LA will kick off their promotional schedule in earnest on Apr. 20 as the first 10,000 fans that attend the Galaxy's match against Sporting Kansas City will receive replica MLS Cup rings. The bobblehead promotions begin on May 5 during LA's MLS Cup rematch against the Houston Dynamo when 10,000 fans will receive a Landon Donovan bobblehead. Later in the season, 10,000 fans will have a chance to grab an Omar Gonzalez bobblehead ahead of LA's July 7 match against FC Dallas and a Robbie Keane bobblehead on Aug. 31 before the Galaxy's California Clasico fixture against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Also of note, single game tickets for the club's regular season opener against the Chicago Fire on March 3 will go on sale to the public on Feb. 5.
Omar Gonzalez solidified his spot as a legitimate option for Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. national team squad with an active 90 minute performance in the United States' scoreless draw against Canada on Tuesday at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The U.S. struggled to generate much offense against the organized Canadians, but Gonzalez was a rock in central defense as he helped shut down any forays forward by the Canadians. Gonzalez was also active on the attack as he was frequently targeted on set pieces as the U.S. looked to break the deadlock.
While Gonzalez excelled against the Canadians, his LA Galaxy teammate A.J. DeLaGarza was not on the gameday roster.
Think Gonzalez will be called up for the USMNT's World Cup Qualifier in Honduras next week?
Leave your thoughts below.
CARSON, Calif. –Michael Stephens is well aware that he has an opportunity to solidify his place with the LA Galaxy this season and now it’s up to the energetic 23-year-old to lock one down.
After spending three seasons behind the likes of David Beckham, Juninho, and Marcelo Sarvas in LA's midfield depth chart, the departure of Beckham represents an opportunity for Stephens to lock down a regular spot with the Galaxy starting lineup in 2013.
“Personally, it’s a really important year for me,” said Stephens. “I’ve been kind of a role player. It’s time for me step up here and define a role on this team.”
While Stephens may be looking to carve out a place in the Galaxy’s starting XI, just where he fits on the field is still to be decided.
“We’re going to be playing him a little out wide as well as inside [the midfield]. In those terms, there are some adjustments depending on where he plays, he’s got to tactically understand and do it right,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “He’s been behind some good players, he’s been dealing with in the middle Beckham, Juninho and Sarvas last year and out wide [Mike] Magee, Christian [Wilhelmsson], Landon [Donovan] so it’s not a criticism of Mike because he’s just been competing against some good players.”
A few preseason notes…
*Bruce Arena on the situation surrounding goalkeeper William Hesmer, who was selected in the MLS Re-Entry Draft: “Nothing at this point.”
*Robbie Keane and Juninho will arrive in Southern California later this week. It appears doubtful that they will play in Friday’s preseason match against the U.S. Under-17’s
*Arena on Friday’s preseason match: “It’s the first time that we’ll go onto the field 11 v. 11 and just transitioning into a big game and play a little bit as a team.”
Former LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham has decided to train with English Premier League giants Arsenal as he continues mull over the next stop in his career.
Beckham began training with Arsenal on Tuesday at their training ground London Colney as he looks to keep his fitness up. When asked the inviteable question if Beckham could be an option for the Gunners to sign, the club's manager Arsene Wenger immediately shot down any speculation.
"He [Beckham] has asked to come here and work on his fitness. He has not done anything for a long time," Wenger told the media. "He called me. It is purely for fitness. There is no speculation of signing him or anything."
CARSON, Calif. –On Tuesday, LA Galaxy defenders A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez will look to further their International careers when the United States takes on Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The two Galaxy defenders and the rest of the U.S. squad departed for Houston over the weekend and finished up their final preparation for the friendly with a public training session on Monday evening. In his third camp with the national team, DeLaGarza has been impressed with the preparations ahead of the friendly against Canada.
“Every session has been short, but very intense. The quality is high [throughout the roster]. We’re getting good quality training every day and we’re getting minutes by scrimmaging so we’re moving along pretty well,” said DeLaGarza. “It’s been good. I kind of knew what to expect coming into this camp and all the guys are top quality players.”
Whether DeLaGarza will have a place in head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting lineup–or even the game day roster – on Tuesday remains to be seen, but Klinsmann has been impressed with what he has seen from the resourceful defender.
“He’s versatile; he reads the game very well. Sometimes, you don’t need to be the big strong guy and get into the battle because he gets in front of his opponent and wins it already,” said Klinsmann. “We told him, we see how things develop and we see a lot of qualities in him. He’s a different type of center back than Omar Gonzalez or Matt Besler and you need this to put your puzzle together.”
The U.S. National Team head coach summarizes the January camp in a video produced by U.S. Soccer below.
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy finally broke up their intense fitness preparation on Monday by participating in short-sided games for much for the club’s training session.
After spending the first week focusing primarily on fitness work, the session represented an opportunity for head coach Bruce Arena to evaluate his players in a new way.
“It’s just a start, we had five weeks before we open so we have plenty of time, but it was good to get the guys out in a regular training session today,” said Arena. “It’s a group of young players, but it was good to see how some of the responded to the training and look at their habits as well as things they do well and not do well so we can build on that.”
Midfielder Michael Stephens was overjoyed to take part in actual on-field work.
“Finally, we cut up the monotony of running around in a circle. We took the balls out and I thought that we had a good first day. I thought that everyone was pretty sharp,” said Stephens. “On the first day, it is usually pretty frantic, but it was generally very good. You can kind of see all the new guys and how they are on the ball as well as how everyone came back from the offseason. It’s a lot more fun than just straight running.”
A couple more notes below…
* Arena told reporters on Monday that Juninho will “probably” be at Galaxy training on Wednesday. Juninho is currently in Brazil awaiting his visa.
*The Galaxy dealt with windy conditions today that seem to cause a greater problem for the assembled media than the players. Stephens had this to say on the conditions: “Today was windy which is a surprise for L.A. because we’re used to it being sunny and calm every day. It was nice until we did the wind sprints after practice because I think these 15 or 20 mph wind gusts made it hard to run on one side of the field.”
*One of the players who impressed in practice on Monday was Brazilian defender Leonardo who has recovered from the knee injuries that have plagued him over the past two years. LAGalaxy.com writer Larry Morgan spoke to Leonardo to discuss his recovery.
The kick off time for the LA Galaxy's April 13 match against FC Dallas at FC Dallas has been changed to 4:30 p.m. PT.
The match was previously scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.
CARSON, Calif. – This preseason, LA Galaxy Academy star Paul Arriola has been given a chance to train alongside the Galaxy first team and the 17-year-old attacker is savoring every moment.
A member of the United States’ Under-17 squad that went to the U-17 World Cup in Mexico in 2011, Arriola made his debut for the Galaxy’s Developmental Academy team in October. In just five appearances with the Galaxy U-18’s, he notched two goals for the West Conference Southwest Division leaders.
After a successful season with the Academy, the San Diego native was invited to train with Liga MX title-holders Club Tijuana in late-December. That prepared Arriola for his next big chance, an opportunity to train with the Galaxy during their preseason preparations.
“It’s a good opportunity to play with the first team and I want to be here,” Arriola recently told LA Galaxy Insider. “I’m just going to try and take in as much as possible so that I can learn from the veterans and the guys coming out of college so it really is a learning experience, but at the same time I want to prove myself to show that I can make it to next level.
Placing Academy players amongst the first team is nothing new for the Galaxy as over the past year, Developmental Academy starlets Oscar Sorto, Raul Mendiola and others have trained with the Galaxy’s top squad. With many of his Academy alums now contributing valuable minutes to the Galaxy, Arriola believes that one day, he might be able to do the same.
“You look up to everyone here because they’re professionals, but especially Jack [McBean] and Oscar who came from the same position that I am and I know that I can make it,” said Arriola. “Every opportunity whether it’s somewhere else on a trial or with the national team, it’s always an opportunity to show yourself and show how good you are.”