FMF

19 February 9:32 am

Jose Villarreal is on the move again, this time to Liga de Ascenso club Cruz Azul Hidalgo.

Cruz Azul announced on Monday that it will send Villarreal and former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Rafael Baca to the Mexican second division side for the duration of the 2014 Clausura Tournament.  

Villarreal had made just two appearances for the team’s Under-20 side in recent weeks after suffering a leg injury that prevented him from suiting up for La Maquina (The Machine) immediately after his year-long loan deal was announced. The length of the 20-year-old forward’s loan means that if he is able to impress his coaches in the second division then it is conceivable that he’d rejoin the first team upon the start of the 2014 Apertura Tournament this summer.  

Currently, Cruz Azul Hidalgo has 11 points after seven matches this season and are tied for third place in the Liga de Ascenso with Lobos BUAP.  The Hidalgo-based club is also still alive in the Copa MX and takes on C.F. Monterrey on Wednesday.

16 February 1:25 pm

Club Tijuana’s road woes in the Liga MX continued on Friday as Xolos fell 3-2 to Santos Laguna in Torreon to extend their road winless streak to 18 games.

Santos tallied twice in the first half with a penalty kick finish from Juan Rodriguez in the 14th minute and a Mauro Cejas tally seven minutes later. The Xoloitzcuintles cut the deficit in half in the 24th minute as Cristian Pellerano buried a close-range attempt past Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.

Santos doubled their lead again in the 49th minute after a goal from Darwin Quintero to put the match out of reach for Tijuana. Xolos attacker Fidel Martinez helped Tijuana mount a comeback in the 60th minute by slotting a left-footed shot into the lower corner of the Santos net. Tijuana continued to push numbers forward in the waning moments, but could not complete the comeback.

Edgar Castillo was the lone American starter as Joe Benny Corona and Herculez Gomez entered in the second half. American defender Greg Garza was left on the bench for the defeat while Paul Arriola did not make the gameday squad. 

Tijuana are now 3-3-1 with 10 points in the 2014 Clausura tournament and have taken just four points out of 54 in their last 18 road games. The LA Galaxy face Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals in March. 

Highlights of the match are below. 

12 February 3:53 pm

MEXICO CITY – Prior to their match against Liga MX side Pumas UNAM on Tuesday, the LA Galaxy received a rare treat -- a visit from the United States Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne.

Wayne was presented a team-autographed jersey by U.S. international Landon Donovan – one of Hayes’ favorite athletes – and took in the match as the Galaxy fell 2-1 to UNAM at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario. The gesture was a thank you of sorts from the Galaxy as Wayne and his office provide vital assistance whenever American teams—be they the Galaxy or the U.S. National Team—travel to Mexico. 

 “In general, things go very smoothly. But once in a while, there is a visa problem or a passport gets lost and then we are available to help," Wayne told LA Galaxy Insider. "Sometimes there are questions about security and our security office is ready to help when American teams are here—basically to facilitate if there is a need for facilitation. Fortunately, as the Mexicans say ‘mi casa es su casa’ (my house is your house) so the attitude is very warm and receiving.”

The game of soccer is not a mystery for Wayne who was a former defender –he describes himself as being ‘not too fast but having a good leg’ –in his youth while also serving as a coach on his children’s soccer teams.

Although the ambassador’s work is to further the intricately complicated relationship between the United States and Mexico, Wayne admits that one of his favorite moments of the past year was when the two CONCACAF rivals faced off.

“It’s pretty exciting. There’s a lot of emotion in the stadium but not too many people cheering for the U.S. at the Azteca. Generally though, it’s a way to bring people together,” said Wayne. “For the last meeting between the two teams, we brought young people together in a city library. It was simply great fun. Like I said, sports cross borders and they teach valuable lessons like sportsmanship and leadership.”

11 February 4:14 pm

MEXICO CITY— Stefan Ishizaki’s experience with playing at altitude is quite limited due to his long playing career in the lowlands of Scandinavia and Italy, but on Tuesday, he received a major test. 

The Swede started as the Galaxy fell 2-1 to Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City. Playing in “D.F.” presents a number of challenges for opposing players, but none greater than the suffocating elevation of a city that sits at an altitude of 7,350 ft.

During his 45 minute shift, Ishizaki was stationed in the center of midfield in front of defensive counterweight Baggio Hušidić as LA tried out a 4-1-3-2 formation during the first stanza. However, Ishizaki admittedly struggled to make an impact early.  

“It was brutal. My first 25 minutes, I could not catch my breath. It was very tough. After 25 minutes, I got into the game and felt a lot better,” said Ishizaki. “But we played against a Mexican team with a style that we’re probably going to face when we play Tijuana and it was good to see that style first hand.”

“In our half, we did an okay job. We didn’t move our feet quick enough and we let them play through us too easily. I think that was because we didn’t have the energy to be quick,” Ishizaki continued. “The elevation played a part a little bit, but we train every day to be able to do these things. We weren’t able to do it today against a team in the middle of their season, despite having a month left of preseason.’

Although he was unable to get forward frequently on Tuesday, Ishizaki, who is likely to play wide on the right during the regular season, was pleased with the chance to play centrally against Pumas.

Said Ishizaki, “I like it. I like it a lot better when I’m fitter and I can make runs and support the strikers while also go down and get the ball from the back four. I like it when I’m fitter, but it was okay, particularly in the last 25 minutes of the half.” 

And as for the altitude and travel to Mexico City? Ishizaki believes that the experience will serve LA well as the season begins.

“It was a good exercise. We have to get use to the travel and we’re going to play at elevation so it’s good to get used to it,” said Ishizaki. “I’m not used to it after playing in Europe. It was a good experience for me and now I have some idea what to expect.” 

10 February 3:31 pm

MEXICO CITY -- Ahead of Tuesday's closed-door scrimmage with Pumas UNAM, the LA Galaxy had a chance to practice at the training facilities of the seven-time Mexican champions on Tuesday. 

The session lasted just over an hour and was attended by more than 30 representatives from Herbalife Mexico. 

The photos can be seen below. 

09 February 4:53 pm

It turns out all Club Tijuana needed to return to winning ways was a little home cooking.  

Back at the Estadio Caliente, Dario Benedetto and Cristian Pellerano scored as Tijuana erased a second half deficit to defeat C.F. Monterrey 2-1, moving up to sixth place in the 2014 Torneo Clausura.  The win extended Xolos’ home unbeaten streak to 17 games.  

After a back-and-forth first half, Monterrey attacker Cesar Delgado put Los Rayados up in the 65th minute when he launched a shot from beyond the penalty area that sailed past Xolos goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo.

Tijuana needed just 10 minutes to equalize when Benedetto, who came on for American Herculez Gomez in the second half, smashed a close-range opportunity into the back of the Monterrey net. The winner came in the 86th minute as a Juan Hernandez header found a lurking Pellerano setting up an easy finish for the Argentine midfielder.

Club Tijuana returns to action on  Feb. 14 when they travel to Torreon to take on Santos Laguna with hopes of snapping their 17-match road winless streak. 

Highlights from the match against Monterrey are below...

01 February 7:07 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Jose Villarreal made his first appearance in a Cruz Azul kit on Saturday as he scored a goal for the team’s U-20 side in a 1-1 draw with the Chivas de Guadalajara U-20’s.

Villarreal’s goal came five minutes into the match and comes less than a week after he made his first appearance for the team as a whole in a friendly against a non-professional team from the Mexican Armed Forces. 

The Galaxy attacker was joined in the lineup by San Diego-native Michael Farfan who also made his first showing for the Cruz Azul U-20 side.