LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez took part in a brief conference call with Los Angeles based reporters ahead of Tuesday's World Cup round of 16 match between the U.S. and Belgium.
During the call, Gonzalez was asked about a myriad of topics including defending the Belgian attack, whether or not he'd start the match and the U.S.' attacking plans.
Check it out below.
(On what Belgium offers as an opponent…)
GONZALEZ: “Well I think that what we’ve talked about as a team is that they aren’t much different than what we’ve seen so far. They pretty much field sort of the same lineup that we’ve seen and it’s going to be no surprise tomorrow. We know that they have very talented players, but they are definitely not more talented than what we faced already and the talent that we’ve seen in Germany and also going up against the likes of Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo. We know that it is going to be a tough challenge. Belgium is a young talented team and I think we are ready. I think we’ve prepared well and it’s going to be a fun game tomorrow.”
(On Belgium’s talented attackers and their movement up top as a challenge…)
GONZALEZ: “Their movement is very good up top and it’s going to be very challenging for us but as long as we can keep them in front of us and give support to our wide guys when they have [Eden] Hazard or [Dries] Mertens coming at them. Just provide support so that we don’t get a lot of one versus one out wide, and if they do get a one versus one out wide, we need to be sure to follow runners inside the box because they have some big guys who can definitely get to the ball.”
(On his confident performance against Germany and on how he can have a confident performance against Belgium…)
GONZALEZ: “I am feeling good. [My] Body has recovered well and I am looking forward to getting on the field tomorrow and putting on a solid performance. What I can do is do is basically what I did last game… be mobile, provide cover for my other defenders, I think we want to be a bit more aggressive. I think that we were too late to getting to the German guys the last game and we want to make sure to not let them have too much possession. If they do have possession then [we want to make it] not make it easy for them. That’s something that I want to help [shore] up and I can do that [through] a lot of communication and getting down in the right position so that they are able to get to the ball further.”
(On if he feels he locked down his starting spot for the Belgium game…)
GONZALEZ: “I can’t speak too much about locking down any kind of spots right now. Right now my mind is just about the team here and so I’m not looking for any personal gain here. If my name gets called upon again then I’m going to work just as hard as anyone else on that field. Tomorrow it’s going to take another great team effort and I’m hoping that I believe our team is very strong. We put together good team performances so that’s where I am at right now and I’m going to fight for the guy next to me.”
(On the support the team is receiving in the United States…)
GONZALEZ: “I have a pretty good idea just by following social media, you hear about the watch parties and you see the pictures and videos and you see the amount of fans that are going. It makes me really happy to see the fans back home rallying up behind us and it’s definitely not any more added pressure, I think it makes us want to work harder [because] we want to give them a great performance. I think as long as we put forth everything we’ve got, everyone can be happy about that but hopefully we can give them a win.”
(On criticism coming his way and feelings turning around after his performance against Germany…)
GONZALEZ: “I’m not really worried about what people say out there. It’s pretty telling how quickly people can go from talking crap, or criticizing and then all of the sudden being in your corner if you have a good performance. My worry isn’t what people are thinking, what I am staying focused on is my team, the 23 guys that are here, and my coaches and all I have to worry about is what they think. As long as they feel that I am doing a great job, then I’m happy. One thing that I want to do is stay consistent. I’m coming off a good performance against Germany and now I want to have another good performance against Belgium.”
(On whether he was surprised to get the call to start against Germany…)
GONZALEZ: “I think that I was definitely surprised about getting the start. Jurgen [Klinsmann] wasn’t making too many changes in the lead up matches and then we had two pretty good performances against Ghana and Portugal so my mind set the whole time was if my name gets called then I’ll be ready. I definitely prepared and worked hard like the rest of the guys during the preparation camp and also leading up to the first couple of games. I wasn’t worried too much about what are the coaches thinking, or [wondering] am I going to get called now, am I going to get called before the first game? I was patient, I worked hard and I am happy that my name got called and I just basically went out there and do what I do.”
(On his goals for the tournament and whether he had any going in…)
GONZALEZ: “I think earlier on in the year I had more of a goal that I want to be starting every single game, but with my injury that happened leading up to the camp, there was even a question me not making the 23 man roster. Right before the World Cup happened all those goals went out the window and I just wanted to get myself ready for whatever happened. I worked hard to make the 23 man roster and then after that I worked hard to be whatever asset I can to this team.”
(On the importance of capitalizing on set pieces…)
GONZALEZ: “We think our set pieces are very important and we just need to be able to be more lethal when we have those opportunities. We are ready. Everyone knows their role. And when we do get set pieces we want to capitalize on those chances, but we don’t want to just count on set pieces. We want to get chances through the run of play, we want to find Clint [Dempsey], we want to get the ball out wide and get numbers in the box and capitalize on chances within the run of play and, of course, once we do get some corner kicks, some free kicks, we are going to do everything we can to score on those chances because we know that in these tight games that we’ve seen so far a lot of good chances come off of set pieces.”
CARSON, Calif. – The U.S. National Team will need to make do without target striker Jozy Altidore for their “win and you’re in” group stage match against Portugal on Sunday.
Just how head coach Jurgen Klinsmann replaces the physical forward who is out with a hamstring injury remains to be seen and Galaxy forward Landon Donovan is among those wondering just how he’ll go about it against the Portuguese in Manaus.
“I don’t know. I wish I knew the answer to [how to replace Jozy]. It’s going to be interesting to see how the coaches adjust," Donovan said. "Whether you leave[Clint Dempsey] up there by himself or you play another forward with him. I’m sure they’ve watched the Portugal tape over and over and they’ll have an idea how to beat them. At the end of the day, it’s still 11 v. 11 but there’s no question that the team will miss Jozy.”
But no matter who fills in for Altidore, Donovan is confident that the U.S. can earn the win needed to get through to the knockout round for the second consecutive tournament.
“It’s amazing how results change things and even one goal changes things,” said Donovan. “That goal by John Anthony Brooks coupled with Portugal losing, now you look at a scenario where you win the game then you’re through against a somewhat beaten up Portuguese team. It’s amazing how it is coming together, but it can go the other way too. You have to be prepared and it’s going to be a fascinating match.”
The excitement was high after the U.S. National Team's 2-1 victory over Ghana, but LA Galaxy striker Landon Donovan issued a note of caution in a interview on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday.
Donovan, who was controversially left off U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, spoke about the injury to Jozy Altidore and his impression of the team's mood heading into their second group stage match against Portugal. However, his most telling comment was regarding the allegations that Klinsmann had overtrained the team resutling in injuries to Altidore and center back Matt Besler.
“My guess is if you’ve having a bunch of muscle injuries and cramping and stuff like that, there was some factor involved, whether it was overtraining, whether [they] weren’t prepared for the heat," he said. "There was something that went on there, so you could be a little critical.”
Watch the complete interview below.
LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan is currently away on international duty but before he departed for U.S. National Team, he spoke with SB Nation in an interesting interview about his hopes to make the U.S. World Cup roster.
CARSON, Calif. – Injuries and international departures have wreaked havoc on the LA Galaxy’s depth this season, but the team received a bit of good news this week about the status of center back Leonardo.
Following the Galaxy’s 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers, Time Warner Cable Deportes’ Elmur Souza reported that Leonardo suffered a broken finger on his right hand in the match that would require surgery. Following training on Tuesday, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena revealed that despite the injury, Leonardo is not expected to miss any time.
“He picked up an injury with his finger, but I think that he’s going to be fine,” said Arena. “We expect him to play [against Houston].”
However, Leonardo was slightly more cautious as he admitted that he was still taking his recovery “day by day” with the hopes of starting against the Dynamo.
“I feel okay, but a little bit sore. After 48 hours, I can feel more pain after the surgery, but it’s nothing crazy,” Leonardo told LA Galaxy Insider. “We’ll see how I feel. I trained [on Wednesday], but the problem is that when I’m defending I use a lot of my hands. I just have to be careful and we’ll give it time.”
Thoughts on Leonardo likely keeping his starting role on Saturday against Houston?
Share them below.
CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers is getting significant time with Galaxy II, but according to head coach Bruce Arena, he’s got a ways to go before he returns to the first team.
Rogers went 83 minutes for Galaxy II in their 3-0 victory on Sunday while also drawing the foul that led to Rafael Garcia’s opening goal. The match was Rogers’ third appearance for Los Dos as he looks to return to full fitness after a stress reaction injury caused him to miss the preseason.
Arena has been keeping close tabs on Rogers during his stint with Los Dos, but admits that while progress has been made, the midfielder still has work left to do.
“He's played okay,” said Arena of Rogers performance with Galaxy II. “He has to be playing a bit quicker and move the ball better. He missed the whole preseason so he’s got to get fitter.”
When do you think that Rogers will return to the first team?
Share your thoughts below.
LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez and Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley were guests on Monday on ABC's famed morning show Good Morning America.
During the interview, Gonzalez and Bradley each touched on the expectations for their respective club teams this season and the goals of the U.S. National Team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Gonzalez is joined in New York by fellow LA teammate Landon Donovan as part of the league's Media and Marketing tour. As the tour continues, Gonzalez will be appearing on Fox Sports 1's "Crowd Goes Wild" with Regis Philbin at 5 pm ET. while Donovan will be appearing alongside Bradley on MSNBC morning talk show "Cup of Joe" with Joe Scarborough at 7:50 am ET.
Check out Gonzalez's GMA appearance below.
— Omar Gonzalez (@Omar4Gonzalez) February 17, 2014
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne explains the role the U.S. Embassy plays when American clubs travel abroad
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.”
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.”
USMNT makes roster changes after returning from Brazil, Korea Republic defeats Costa Rica at LA Coliseum
The U.S. National Team returned to the StubHub Center from Brazil “dry run” with a few subtractions and a new face, U.S. Soccer announced on Friday.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side will be without Colorado Rapids defenders Shane O’Neill and Chris Klute, Sporting Kansas City defenders Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic, and Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall who were sent back to their respective clubs. However, Klinsmann added new Columbus Crew defender Michael Parkhurst to the roster. The U.S. will face Korea Republic on Feb. 1 at StubHub Center.
Prior to leaving Brazil, Galaxy forward Landon Donovan spoke to media about the Americans prospects at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the opportunity to train at former training ground of his LA teammates Juninho and Leonardo.
“I play in Los Angeles with two players from Sao Paulo, Leonardo and Juninho. They spoke a lot about Sao Paulo before we got here. They said it’s beautiful here and that we would like it a lot. Everything they said has been correct,” Donovan told reporters. “We are staying in a beautiful part of the city. We walk around in the afternoon and the people are very friendly. We feel safe here, we feel accepted here, and it’s been very nice to have a couple weeks to adapt to what it’s going to be like this summer.”
While the U.S. returned from South America and made changes to their roster, Korea Republic defeated Costa Rica 1-0 on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kim Shin-wook scored the lone goal in a testy match between the two World Cup-bound nations that saw two Costa Ricans sent off.
Korea will now travel to San Antonio, Texas for their match with Mexico at the Alamo Dome on Wednesday before returning to face the U.S. on Saturday. Highlights of their victory over Costa Rica are below.