09 September 10:47 am

Good Morning everyone,

Today, the National Football League kicks into full swings. You can bet that members of the LA Galaxy will be watching. Just a sampling of some of the favorite teams of the players and coaching staff: Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys  San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins, among others. 

Back to MLS news:

The San Jose Earthquakes clinched a spot in the 2012 MLS Playoffs on Saturday by virtue of the Seattle Sounders come from behind 2-1 victory over Chivas USA  at CenturyLink Field. The Earthquakes' qualification equaled the record for earliest qualification -- along with the 2011 LA Galaxy and 1996 DC United -- while the league had 12 teams. San Jose is currently in the pole position for the Supporters' Shield at the moment as they sit three points ahead of Sporting Kansas City with seven games to play. The Galaxy still face San Jose one last time this year in their penultimate league game of the season on October 21st at Buck Shaw Stadium. 

If you haven't read my feature story on Jose Villarreal, please do so and remember to check out the addendum on the LA Galaxy Insider blog

I'll have more from today's Galaxy Academy match against the Portland Timbers later on in the day. For a recap of Saturday's matches against the Seattle Sounders Academy, check out my recap here

08 September 4:10 pm

The LA Galaxy Academy 's Under-18 and Under-16 sides picked up a pair of draws against the Seattle Sounders Academy on the opening day of U.S. Soccer Development Academy play on Saturday. 

In the first match of the morning, LA's U-18's drew their Sounders counterparts, 3-3 in what was a back-and-forth contest. 

Seattle’s Odason Pelogi began the scoring just a minute into the match with the Galaxy equalizing in the 16th minute with a goal from Justin Dhillon. Seattle took the lead in the 22nd minute with Jalen Markey scoring, but the lead was short lived as Jack McBean tying the game six minutes later. In the second half, LA pulled ahead in the 53rd minute when Bryan Guzman scored, but Sounders found the equalizer in the 74th minute with a goal from Isidro Prado-Huerta.  Among the participants were Galaxy Academy starlets Raul Mendiola and Jaime Villarreal (younger brother of Jose), who each had a strong performance against the Sounders. 

Meanwhile in the second match, the Galaxy's U-16's drew the Sounders, 1-1. Seattle’s MacArthur Clarke opening the scoring in the 8th minute before LA’s Jonathan Ramirez tied it in the 63rd minute.  Seattle controlled much of the match dominating in both possession and scoring chances before Ramirez drew LA level midway through the second half.

On the bench for  LA was goalkeeper Abraham Romero, who did not play, but recently returned from a stint with Mexico’s U-15’s. During his training stint in Mexico City, the goalkeeper from Altadena was able to interact with members of Mexico’s first team who were training for the nation’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. Romero has now suited up for both Mexico's U-15's as well as the United States' group. The match also featured the debut for a pair of sons of Galaxy coaches with Christian Onalfo (son of assistant coach Curt) getting the start while Ian Sarachan (son of Associate head coach Dave) made his assistant coaching debut. 

The Galaxy Academy return to action on Sunday against the Portland Timbers Academy at The Home Depot Center. The U-18's open the day at 10 a.m.. on University Field No. 2 with the U-16's playing at 12:30 p.m..

08 September 1:09 pm

My feature story on the rise of LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal discusses how the teenager rose from Inglewood to becoming one of the Galaxy's key contributors in 2012

However, there were plenty of great words said about Jose's story that couldn't make the story. Not to fear though because  I can provide those words here on the LA Galaxy Insider blog. 

Below are a series of quotes from Villarreal, Galaxy Associate head coach Dave Sarachan, South Bay Force head coach Todd Saldana and Galaxy Vice President Chris Klein on the youngster.

(On what people told him as he was growing up…)

VILLARREAL: "They just said that if I keep working hard and listen to my coaches that I would get far and I guess I did listen to my coaches."

(On his trials in Germany...)

VILLARREAL: "I was on trial in Germany, but I just wanted to come here and play for my home crowd and be close to my family. Then I got my chance to play with the Galaxy and now I’m very happy here."

(On the affect that Villarreal has on the Galaxy Academy…)

SARACHAN: “It’s massive, the way that this league is headed with the Academy structure and in the very big picture; this is what goes on around the world. So now, we feel that this radius around LA and north and south of LA has got so much talent, but they need to be trained and put in the right environment. These guys are testament to that, that in a professional environment they can thrive.”

(On the advantage of living in Inglewood for Jose…)

SALDANA: “One of the advantages for that for Jose is that he's played a lot of soccer. I wouldn't be surprised if he was playing a game with us and then playing with his older brother during the week playing pick up soccer. He's a kid that played so much because that's the environment that he grew up in. They toughen up a little younger; their dads are always trying to get them into their league and the next level of play once they show signs. That's the big advantage of Jose's play is that he has that street soccer mentality plus living where he grew up there was a league during the week and over the weekend where people were always asking him to play. I don't think that in the traditional soccer arenas, you see kids that grow up in that environment. They go to their weekly practice and league game, this is a guy that wasn't only seeking out soccer but had it available to him 24/7.”

(On how often that he stays in contact with Villarreal…)

SALDANA: “As often as possible...[recently], him and his mom came out to my U-14 boys practice and came by to say hello and were in semi regular contact, but most importantly right now I is checking in to see how he's doing.”

(On Villarreal's family...)

KLEIN: "His family is a very nice family. There's three brothers, we've had two of them that have come through our system. His younger brother (Jaime) is with him and with them, his parents are very supportive and they care a lot about their kids. It's one of the reasons that the two of them have been very successful soccer players because they have the family dynamic where they don't intrude, maybe. I think that's the best way to describe it and that's what [Jose] has." 

08 September 11:59 am

Jose Villarreal's life has changed dramatically in just span of two months. The LA Galaxy Homegrown player has quickly developed from youth prospect to one of LA's key contributors. 

To investigate Jose's rise, I wrote this feature on the teenager from Inglewood. I'll have a little more on the piece momentarily including the quotes that couldn't make the piece. 

Features like this will become a weekly occurrence on ranging from a wide variety of topics. 

08 September 10:43 am

Without the services of Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, the United States fell 2-1 to Jamaica in a World Cup Qualifier in Kingston on Friday.

The Americans scored  just 35 seconds into the match as Clint Dempsey tallied for the Americans.  However, the Reggae Boyz roared back with goals from Rodolph Austin in the 23rd minute and Luton Shelton in the 62nd (Highlights of the game can be found here). The USMNT take on the Jamaicans again on Tuesday, September 11th at Columbus Crew Stadium. 

Meanwhile, in MLS action, there is just a single game today between the Seattle Sounders and Chivas USA at 1pm, but it carries serious playoff implications for the LA Galaxy. If the Sounders win or draw today at CenturyLink Field, they will have clinched a playoff spot for the current leaders of the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose are currently leading the Supporters' Shield race at the moment and would be the first MLS team to clinch a berth in the postseason. 

More to come later in the day. 

07 September 2:10 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- On the heels of adding Swedish International Christian Wilhelmsson, the LA Galaxy appear to be closing in on another signature, this time of the Homegrown variety. 

According to LA Galaxy Under-18 defender Oscar Sorto, the Galaxy and the right back from South Central Los Angeles are currently in discussions over a potential Homegrown contract.  Sorto, 18, has been training with the Galaxy's first team for the last month shortly after returning from a training stint with Swedish club Hammarby IF. Sorto has earned considerable praise from the Galaxy players and coaching staff during his stint with head coach Bruce Arena describing Sorto as a "good player and I think that he has a future with our team." 

When asked after Friday's training session about whether he could potentially turn his training period with the Galaxy first team into a Homegrown deal, Sorto admitted that the negotiations are taking place.

"Right now we're talking about that," Sorto told LA Galaxy Insider. "I'm from South Central and it would be really big. I've been watching the Galaxy since I was little, Cienfuegos played here and he's a role model for us Salvadorans so it would be great playing for the Galaxy." 

When reached for comment, Galaxy Vice President Chris Klein told LA Galaxy Insider that  "We don't comment on any type of negotiations until anything is finalized."

07 September 1:10 pm

LA Galaxy midfielder Dan Keat was an unused substitute but New Zealand began their campaign for the 2014 World Cup with a 2-0 victory over New Caledonia.

Shane Smeltz and Chris Wood scored as New Zealand picked up the first victory. Keat and New Zealand continue their campaign on Tuesday, September 11th against the Solomon Islands. 

Keat has one appearance for New Zealand having participated in a friendly against Jamaica on February 29th. 

07 September 12:43 pm

Robbie Keane and the rest of Ireland's national team began their qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup in a big way on Friday with a dramatic come from behind victory over Kazakhstan. 

Down 1-0 in the 89th minute, the Irish struck back as Keane drew a penalty and slotted in the equalizer. A minute later, Irish forward Kevin Doyle scored the game-winning-goal to put Ireland in the pole position in Group C, a group that contains European heavyweight Germany as well as Sweden. 

Keane's goal comes after the Irish forward delivered an interview to the Irish Independent wherein the LA Galaxy forward admitted that he considered retiring from International play after several of his Ireland contemparies goalkeeper Shay Given and midfielder Damien Duff announced their retirement from the Irish squad. However, Keane commited his future to the Irish for the foreseeable future for as long as they are interested in his services.

"I thought about it," Keane told the Irish Independent. "And when Damien and Shay decided to go that way, it was a sad day for Irish football because they've been two of the best players this country has ever seen.

"But the thought of never putting on a green jersey again was quite difficult for me to come around to. Even now, I'm dreading that day. I'll keeping playing on while I'm fit and healthy and as long as the manager picks me.”

07 September 9:35 am

CARSON, Calif. -- Christian Wilhelmsson has arrived in Southern California and the Swedish International is hoping to make an immediate impact for the LA Galaxy.

During this piece, I spoke about how Wilhelmsson fits in with the team as he prepares for his American adventure.

However, Wilhelmsson had plenty more to say, below are his thoughts on Los Angeles and how it relates to his previous experience in Saudi Arabia. 

WILHELMSSON: “So far, I haven’t seen so much, it’s like where I come from. Very hot and a lot of traffic. [he last played in Saudi Arabia]. When I start to see other places maybe it’ll be a bit different.”

(On playing in Saudi Arabia…)

WILHELMSSON:  “I’ve said it before that it’s a surprisingly good level. It was very hot. As a player it’s not that different from other places. You have your games, you have your rhythm and your routine….It’s the same all most everywhere, but for the family, maybe it’s different with things to do, but not that much.”

(On cultural differences…)

WILHELMSSON: “Culturally, you have to know what is going on, how to be there. You learn quite fast. I tried to be as open as possible and try to respect them. It’s not a problem at all. I’ve been in a lot of places now and to adapt is one of my qualities.”

(On whether Saudi Arabia was difficult for his family…)

WILHELMSSON: “Of course, it was difficult in the beginning, but she [his wife Oksana] got used to it and she enjoyed it with me.”

(On whether he knows David Beckham, Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan…)

WILHELMSSON: “I played against David two times (Sweden vs. England) and Robbie as well with the national team. Donovan, I’m not sure if I know him personally.” 

06 September 10:45 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan isn't quite back from his nagging hamstring strain, but the Galaxy captain is targeting a return to action during LA's next match on September 14th against the Colorado Rapids. 

On Thursday, Donovan caught up reporters for the first time since departing for U.S. national team duty -- where he picked up the strain during the friendly against Mexico -- and discussed his recovery. 

Read my piece on Donovan's aspirations to return to action during LA's next match