CARSON, Calif. –Real Salt Lake’s speedy diminutive striker Joao Plata gave the LA Galaxy fits during their Western Conference Semifinal first leg, but once the second leg rolls around on Sunday, LA are confident that they can shut down the Ecuadorian.
Plata was the main conduit in the Salt Lake attack during Saturday’s first leg at Rio Tinto Stadium as he repeatedly stretched the Galaxy back four while notching a pair of shots on frame. The Ecuadorian, who notched 13 goals and six assists during the regular season, also had a pair of goals negated by offside calls including one which was shown to be onside according to television replays.
After tussling with Plata over the course of 90 minutes, Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez says that he’s ready for a challenge on Sunday.
“Plata’s a special player. He’s small and he’s always in my blind side. He’s quick. We just have to be aware of where he’s at. Don’t let him start sprinting freely. Give him a little bump but not too much because the slightest touch can tip him over," said Gonzalez. “Last game the referee (Silviu Petrescu) told me, ‘You’re just so much bigger than him. What do you want me to do?’ When I hear the ref tell me that it’s kind of difficult to do my job.”
But how does Gonzalez plan to account for Plata -- and the officials -- in a match where one goal by Salt Lake could see the Galaxy's season end prematurely?
"I'm just going to do my job," he said. "I can't worry about the referee and our whole team is over being worried about the referees. We're going to worry about approaching the game with the right mindset. We know that it'll be a challenge against Real Salt Lake for 90 minutes plus and we have to be ready for them."
CARSON, Calif. – The season may be over for LA Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant as head coach Bruce Arena told reporters on Tuesday that he is “not likely” to return for the remainder of the season.
Dunivant has yet to return to full training since tearing his left groin muscle during LA’s 6-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids back in September that ruled him out for six weeks. Injuries have been a frequent problem for Dunivant who missed out on four months of the season due to an abdominal tear.
The 33-year-old has made some progress over the last week by taking part in fitness work, but he revealed to reporters on Tuesday that he is still unable to train without experiencing pain.
“Injuries are part of the game and you have to deal with it accordingly,” said Arena. “On the team side, it can’t be an excuse and on the player side, you certainly feel for the player, but we have to move on and take care of business.
“We’ve had eight guys who have helped us in the back and they’ve all been needed.”
CARSON, Calif. -- A day after signing with LA Galaxy II, 15-year-old Los Dos goalkeeper Eric Lopez was among the 22-man U.S. Under-16 roster that will take part in a training camp in France from Nov. 13-21.
The nine day training camp will be overseen by U.S. Soccer technical advisor and former U.S. U-17 assistant coach Clint Peay. Lopez will be joined in France by nine other players from California including former Galaxy Academy star Hanif Wright.
The complete roster is below.
LA Galaxy II bolstered their goalkeeping core on Monday by signing 15-year-old LA Galaxy Academy product and U.S. Under-17 international Eric Lopez.
A member of the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Florida, Lopez becomes the youngest player to ever sign a professional contract in USL PRO. In addition to a sterling academy career that has seen him suit up for each team from the club's U-13 to U-18 levels, Lopez has trained briefly with the Galaxy first team over the past year.
“Eric is another example of the fully-realized player developmental system that the Galaxy have implemented,” said LA Galaxy Technical Director Jovan Kirovski in a statement. “We are excited to complete this deal and keep talented prospects like Eric within the Galaxy organization as their careers progress.”
Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane expect LA Galaxy offense to come alive in decisive second leg with RSL
SANDY, Utah— No team found the back of the net more during the 2014 MLS regular season than the LA Galaxy, but the team’s recent struggles in front of net threaten to deny LA a chance to win their fifth MLS Cup.
Since the end of their 10-game unbeaten run that saw the Galaxy tally 31 goals -- nearly half of their season total of 69 --the LA offense has fallen silent. In their last four games, the Galaxy have scored only four times including a scoreless effort in their Western Conference Semifinals first leg draw with Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
LA’s inability to find the back of the net in their final three regular season matches were cited as reasons that the team’s bid for the Supporters’ Shield fell short, but despite failing to find the back of the net at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Galaxy are confident of breaking out of their recent offensive malaise with their season on the line next week
"We're fine on offense. We know how to score goals. It wasn't crucial tonight that we score,” said Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan. “We had some chances where we need to make a better pass or pull off a play that we didn't, but we have a lot of confidence that when we play at home, we'll create a lot of chances. It's creating the chances - which we'll do - and then hitting the net."
With the Galaxy unable to maintain the possession needed to place Salt Lake under sustained pressure and the blustery conditions limiting their service from wide positions, the LA attack became heavily reliant on counter attacks. But despite several dangerous thrusts forward, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando needed to make just a single save in Saturday's scoreless draw.
But heading back to StubHub Center where the Galaxy held a 12-1-4 record in the regular season, captain Robbie Keane says that LA's gameplan will look considerably different than at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“We’re fairly comfortable and confident that we can get them at our place," said Keane. "Most teams that come into [StubHub Center] find it hard to play there and hopefully with the tempo that we usually play and the offensive mind that we have when we do attack then we’ll be okay.”
SANDY, Utah— Real Salt Lake had plenty of opportunities to take a slim edge in their Western Conference Semifinals series with the LA Galaxy, but the play of LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo proved decisive in holding the Claret-and-Cobalt at bay.
But that doesn’t mean that Salt Lake is not plenty confident heading into the second leg at StubHub Center next week.
Despite holding an impressive 16 to three advantage in shots, the stellar play of Penedo and several timely stops by the Galaxy defense kept the home side from establishing an early advantage. Heading into the second leg next week, RSL captain Kyle Beckerman says his team is pleased with their showing on Saturday.
“Of course we would like some goals, and we had some chances and maybe on a different day we score those,” Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman told reporters after the game. “Credit to their keeper, and credit to their defense. We got a series on our hands."
Head coach Jeff Cassar also admitted that he was pleased with his team’s ability to create chances on a Galaxy defense that ranked among the league’s best throughout the regular season.
"I thought the players on the field were going to give us the goal that we needed,” he said. “Everybody had the proper energy, proper movement. On a different night, I think we would have four or five goals."
Whether Salt Lake can duplicate that explosive offensive performance at StubHub Center remains to be seen remains up in the air. Throughout the 2014 regular season campaign, the Galaxy held an impressive 13-1-4 record in all competitions. That lone home defeat came against RSL who defeated the Galaxy in their season opener back in March.
And with that past success at StubHub Center in their minds, Salt Lake are relishing the challenge.
"There's definitely no comfort going in, because they are very good at home," said defender Nat Borchers. "When you're at home in this league, you have an initial boost of energy, so I think those first 15-20 minutes is really important, so we got to be ready for that. We've got to come out flying and hopefully if we get that early goal, we can put that pressure on them."
SANDY, Utah -- The officiating was a main talking point of the LA Galaxy's scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake in the first leg of their Western Conference Semifinals series.
Following the game, center back Omar Gonzalez had plenty to say about the officiating of Silviu Petrescu.
"I think the wind was a factor. The field played really fast. Officiating didn't help. I think we had 24 fouls against us, 11 for them. Gyasi's [Zardes] goal counted, even though they counted it offside, he was onside. It's just the same old story. I'm going to stop talking about it, but I will say maybe it's time we get a DP referee," said Gonzalez. "I think that that's out of our control. I know that Salt Lake is not worrying about the referee, so we have to not worry about the referee as well. We have to worry about what we can control.'
"That's our effort, the way we approach the game, our unity upon the field, and the way we move the ball and play as a unit. Those are the things for next week that we have to concentrate on and we have to remember that we're at home, so we're going to feel a lot more comfortable, the fans are going to be behind us, and it's going to be great game. Salt Lake is a great team, and they always give us a good matchup. I'm looking forward to great game next week."
SANDY, Utah— LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena spoke to the media after the club’s scoreless draw in their Western Conference Semifinal first leg against Real Salt Lake.
(On the physical play…)
ARENA: An ugly game. Lopsided in calls as the fouls were called two to one in our favor. I’m sure not if that is good or bad, but it made for one crappy game, that’s for sure.
(On the officiating…)
ARENA: It is what it is. It’s been like that all year and it’s not going to change for the playoffs.
(On Jaime Penedo and his overall thoughts on the game…)
ARENA: Jaime did well, but it was a sloppy game with the altitude, the wind and the field conditions made for a difficult game. To get out of here scoreless means that we have to lay it on the line next week at home.
(On if he’s pleased to head back to StubHub Center needing a win…)
ARENA: We have to win the game. We’ll have to find out Sunday night [if it is a good position or not]. We’ll see.
(On if the Galaxy have to adjust next week in the second leg…)
ARENA: It was a bad game with the conditions and maybe too many fouls were called. It was just a sloppy game. I think next week the game will look a lot different.