CARSON, Calif. – One of the larger predicaments facing the LA Galaxy this preseason has been deciding just who would get the start alongside Omar Gonzalez in central defense. Ahead of the season opener against the Chicago Fire, it seems that two options—Leonardo and A.J. DeLaGarza have risen to the top of the heap.
MLS Cup starter Tommy Meyer has been sidelined with a nagging left hamstring injury leaving Leonardo and DeLaGarza to earn minutes in central defense alongside the U.S. national team defender. Both have appeared solid, but Leonardo has impressed particularly after missing much of the last two seasons due to the after effects of knee surgery.
However, it is worth nothing that the last time all three were available for the preseason game –LA’s victory over LIGA MX’s Club Tijuana—it was Leonardo who got the start alongside the Brazilian.
When asked if it would be Leonardo starting against the Fire following Friday’s training session, Bruce Arena quickly reiterated that DeLaGarza is another likely option.
“Or A.J.,” the Galaxy boss sharply noted. “Omar and A.J. typically play together in the center, and they're very experienced players, probably been together the last seven, eight years [including time at the University of Maryland]. I think Leo, whenever he's come in and played with Omar or A.J., has done quite well.”
DeLaGarza’s partnership with Gonzalez, which has lasted since their days at the University of Maryland, is well documented, but Leonardo has had his own success when teaming up with Gonzalez. The pair made a pair of brief preseason appearances together against Tijuana and South Korean side Gangwon FC. Leonardo and Gonzalez also combined 12 times during the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the Galaxy going 6-2-4 in that time.
If Leonardo is the option on Sunday, however, Gonzalez believes that he has complete faith in Leonardo—especially after both recovered from major knee injuries in the past year.
“Leonardo – man, that's another story similar to mine, maybe a little worse than mine,” said Gonzalez. “Two years to come back, and what a story that is. He's just been playing really well lately, he's been showing that he's fit, he's ready to step on the field, and everyone's more than happy to have him out there.
“I've only been paired up with him [during] a couple of [preseason] games here and there, but it was just the way it was before he got hurt,” said Gonzalez. “[Leonardo’s addition] adds a lot more depth, it gives you the opportunity to maybe rotate more guys, because everybody's a solid defender, everybody has quality. You can move A.J. to right back or keep him as center back. You just have a lot more options.”
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy bolstered their attacking depth on Friday by acquiring Chandler Hoffman from the Philadelphia Union in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
The 13th overall selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft out of UCLA, Hoffman made seven appearances for the Union in his only season for the club while being reduced to a reserve role. Although he struggled for time in Philadelphia, Hoffman was prolific for the Bruins as he scored 29 goals and 10 assists in his three years in Westwood.
Following training on Friday, Arena admitted that Hoffman should bolster the Galaxy’s forward depth, but the Galaxy boss “doubts” he’ll be on the bench come Sunday’s season opener against the Chicago Fire.
“He’s a good young player and we’ve known him from his UCLA days. He’s a young promising player, but we need to get him into our team and see if we can move him along as a player,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “We always look around for young promising players and he’s a guy that we’re familiar with. There’s no given with anything, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits into our environment on a daily basis and hopefully, he’s player that we can move him along well to help our team.”
Hoffman’s teammate at UCLA, LA third goalkeeper Brian Rowe believes that his college teammate could do big things at The Home Depot Center.
“It’ll be great. He has a knack for the goal and he gets into good spots so with good players like Robbie [Keane], once Gyasi [Zardes] gets back, he’ll be a good threat," said Rowe. "He considers L.A. to be his second home after going to UCLA and I think he’ll be happy and motivated to do well.
“He’s always one to stay late and put in the time to do work and improve himself. He’s one that always wants to keep learning,” Rowe added. “It’ll be a good personality to have around the locker room.”
Hoffman will become the fifth Galaxy forward under the age of 23—joining Jack McBean (18), Charlie Rugg (22), Jose Villarreal (19), and Gyasi Zardes (21) – but Arena doesn’t believe that “stockpiling” is the right term for what LA’s actions.
“I don’t know if that’s the right term. I hope that eventually, it becomes the right term for the description of these players,” said Arena. “They haven’t tasted a whole lot of success yet so we have to see. Hopefully down the road, they’re going to be players who are very important for the Galaxy.”
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LOS ANGELES – Gyasi Zardes is still at least a month away from returning to the training ground, but the LA Galaxy Homegrown forward recently spoke to reporters to provide a progress report for his recovery.
The 21-year-old Homegrown signing underwent surgery in early February after cracking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. On Wednesday, Zardes was spotted on crutches and a walking boot –which he has been wearing nearly three weeks – during LA’s unveiling of their new second kit at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE. There is currently no timeline for his return, but Zardes says he will undergo further X-rays in two weeks and hopes to return sometime in April.
Prior to his injury, Zardes appeared in two preseason games, but a sudden freak issue forced him to the sidelines.
“I came into camp and I felt fine, but on certain days, I felt a pain. In one practice, I felt a throbbing pain and I got it checked out, it turns out it was a hairline fracture and I didn’t even know it,” said Zardes. “I think it was the shoes that I was running in that had a bad arch…over time it got worse and worse. But at least, I still got to nip it in the bud before it got worse.”
However, Zardes is doing what he can to keep his spirits up, particularly conversing with teammate Kenney Walker who endured a similar injury this preseason, albeit on his right foot, just prior to Zardes.
“I’m asking him for questions because he’s a genius at it since he’s went through everything I’m going through two weeks ahead of me,” said Zardes. “I’m constantly asking him questions every time I see him.”
Just when Zardes will return to the training ground remains to be seen, but the forward is keeping his spirits high.
“It really helps me look at the big picture because obviously, I’m a college kid and I’m anxious to get on the field, but this has helped me be mellow and stay humble,” said Zardes. “It’s a long season as they say…I’m thinking short term, but they’re thinking long term.”
The LA Galaxy added to their stable of young forwards on Friday by acquiring Chandler Hoffman from the Philadelphia Union.
LA acquired the 13th overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft for a 2014 conditional MLS SuperDraft pick. Hoffman, 22, was a star forward at UCLA, but made just seven regular season appearances for the Union in 2012, seeing substantial time in Reserve League matches.
At UCLA, Hoffman was one of college game’s most lethal strikers, scoring 29 goals in three years with the Bruins. Hoffman is now the fifth Galaxy striker under the age of 23, joining 18-year-old Jack McBean, 22-year-old Charlie Rugg, 19-year-old Jose Villarreal, and 21-year-old Gyasi Zardes.
The former UCLA star is scheduled to arrive in Southern California on Friday and train with the club on Friday per a club release.
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CARSON, Calif -- LA Galaxy rookie Greg Cochrane has been one of the breakout stars of the preseason, but when the midfielder -- who tweeted on Thursday that he had signed a deal with the club -- was with the University of Louisville, he was known as much for his long flowing mane as his hustle play.
Prior to being drafted by the Galaxy with the 38th overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Cochrane chopped off his long hair for a good cause, donating 10 inches to the non-profit organization Locks of Love.
LOS ANGELES -- Mike Magee looks set to feature in Sunday’s MLS regular season opener against the Chicago Fire, but center back Tommy Meyer remains a question mark due to a nagging left hamstring that caused him to miss the club's last three preseason games.
Meyer told reporters on Wednesday -- at the club's second kit unveiling at The GRAMMY Museum -- that the injury is his first ever hamstring strain, but “not the worst” in terms of the injuries that he has had in his career. Currently, Meyer is working with the training staff, primarily performing exercises in the weight room in order to maintain his fitness for his eventual return.
But just when he returns to action remains a question mark as he asserted that any timeline is between the defender and the training staff. However, Meyer attested that he and the training staff are “working to try and get back,” but just how quickly that comes to fruition remains up to head coach Bruce Arena and the trainers.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Bruce Arena revealed in Wednesday’s second kit unveiling at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE that Robbie Keane will take over captaincy duties from Landon Donovan.
Some may wonder if this may mean a reduced leadership role for Donovan once he returns to the club in late-March, but Galaxy veteran defender Todd Dunivant asserts that there is no chance of that happening. Few know Donovan better than Dunivant who has played alongside the forward for eight seasons.
Media members caught up with Dunivant on Wednesday to discuss Keane’s appointment and the left back stressed that Donovan will remain a leader in the locker room once he returns to the club.
“We’re in capable hands with either one of those guys without a doubt. At the end of the day, if Landon comes back and he's not officially captain, he's still going to be a leader and he's still going to be the heart and soul of this team, like he's been for [nearly a] decade,” Dunivant said. “Landon will be fine, no doubt. He's not going to lose his standing in the team or his place in the team, and we all know that. Without, he’s going to step right back in and he’s one of those freaks of nature who can take one or two months off and be fit in a week so we’re not worried about Landon.”
LOS ANGELES – There will be a new captain for the LA Galaxy this season—Robbie Keane.
Head coach Bruce Arena made the change official during LA’s unveiling of their new second kit at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE on Wednesday evening.The Irish forward will take over for Landon Donovan, who is scheduled to return to the club in late-March after stepping away from soccer at the start of 2013. Keane has served as vice-captain to Donovan since the 2011 season. Keane is expected to serve as LA's primary offensive weapon in 2013 after notching 23 goals and 10 assists in 37 matches across all competitions last season.
Donovan had previously served as the club’s captain since 2006, aside from David Beckham’s brief tenure as captain from the end of the 2007 to 2008. Arena admitted that no new vice-captain has been named, but the club is awash in options including Carlo Cudicini, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, and of course Donovan.
Below Arena, Dunivant and Mike Magee reflect on Keane as captain.
ARENA: “Naturally, he was the vice-captain last year and it’s not addition by subtraction. He’s a fabulous choice as captain and is a quality player and a quality leader. Robbie is prepared to lead this team. He’s definitely going to speak up and isn’t going to be shy to tell me what he doesn’t agree with. We like to hear from our players and I think that’s good Robbie will not only represent himself, but his players as well.”
DUNIVANT: “He leads by example and you can see that he’s a bit of a jokester and he’s one of the guys or as he would say, one of the lads… He's a guy that's passionate, and that shows on the field. It makes everybody better because he holds a certain standard that you have to meet, and if you're not, he'll let you know about it…He's the guy who's gonna let you know when things are good, and he's definitely going to let you know when things are bad. He's a guy who easily leads by example and tends to use his mouth as well. ... Usually when he gets overly fired up, you tend to not understand a word he says, so you can kind of just nod and get away with it.”
MAGEE: I didn’t notice there was any change. Robbie was, I guess, our captain last year as well. Landon wore the band, but there is no change with what he does or his presence in the locker room or on the field. It’s very deserving.”
CARSON, Calif. – Mike Magee returned to training for the first time this week on Thursday and declared that he is fit and ready for Sunday’s MLS regular season opener against the Chicago Fire.
Last Friday, Magee took a kick to the knee from Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Steward Ceus during the latter stages of LA Galaxy’s preseason finale. After close consultation with head trainer Armando Rivas and head coach Bruce Arena, Magee opted to take the first two days of training off this week to prepare him for Sunday.
“I feel fine. It was only first day of practice in three days so don’t make it too dramatic, but everything is fine,” said Magee with a smile . “I feel 100 percent. I obviously took a knock so there was just tightness, but luckily, we have a patient coaching staff that allowed me take a few days to let it heal completely.”
Magee admits that he could have trained on both Monday and Tuesday, but the patience of Rivas allowed him to get fully fit and prepared for Sunday, where he is likely to start up top alongside Robbie Keane.
“Both [days], Armando literally asked me ‘if I train today then is it going to make it worse for Sunday’ and I answered ‘maybe’ so he kept me out,” said Magee. “It’s hard to sit out days, but obviously knowing that the game on Sunday is bigger than individual training days, it was the right thing to do.”
LOS ANGELES -- AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke addressed the crowd at Wednesday's unveiling for the LA Galaxy's new second kit and admitted that not only is the "best one" coming in terms of a player transfer, but he is more than pleased with the state of the club heading into 2013.
Leiweke spoke briefly to the crowd while moving between the event at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE and the Los Angeles Kings game against the Detroit Red Wings across the street at Staples Center. During his comments, Leiweke stressed that he was incredibly pleased with the work of LA head coach and general manager Bruce Arena.
"I think that it's unique to find a manager in Bruce and a coaching staff underneath him and a group of players that want to create a legacy. It's not an easy thing to do to find guys who want to step up and put that target on their back. Yet, we not only do it, but we do it and go out and perform to the highest standards, but we do it with guys that choose to be here over other places like the Premier League or Brazil," said Leiweke. "[Because] the fact is that Juninho made a decision to stay here, the fact that Robbie Keane could have gone back to the Premier League after the year that he had. The fact that Bruce was able to go out and get Carlo [Cudicini] to be our 'keeper this year.
"I promise that we're not done, the best one is coming, well, don't tell Robbie that the best one is coming, the second best one to Robbie is coming," Leiweke added. "As long as these guys stay committed to wanting to have that target on their back and wanting to create a legacy and wanting to step up to the pressure of being part of the LA Galaxy, I always tell Bruce, we've got your back and we'll get you the resources that we need."
Leiweke also mentioned that he was pleased that critics from across the American soccer media were choosing to underestimate his club this season.
"It astounds me that people don't understand the character and the commitment of our organization," said Leiweke. "We love being in that position, we love everyone underestimating us and last time that I checked, the most successful coach in this sport in this country is Bruce Arena and this team is the back to back champions. They can kiss my you know what...trust me when I tell you that the organization from Mr. [Phillip] Anschutz and AEG to Bruce Arena and Chris Klein, and to most importantly this team, we're committed to doing it again. We want everyone to look past us and we're going to continue to give this organization and [the fans] every resource necessary to create a team that one day they write books about."
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