With Omar Gonzalez likely absent, Leonardo targeting return to action against New England Revolution
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s 2014 regular season campaign is complete with several players who are enduring stop start seasons, and one of the names on that list is Brazilian center back Leonardo.
The 26-year-old Brazilian has been much maligned among Galaxy fans for his inconsistent play throughout the campaign, which has seen him make nine starts across 11 appearances. A start at the beginning of the year alongside Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo has not started since early June as Tommy Meyer has begun to cement his place along the back four.
However, Leonardo may be given a lifeline back into the starting XI on Wednesday with the Galaxy’s match against the New England Revolution which will be the team’s second match in a two week; five game swing.
“I think it’d be good for the group to rotate players. We want to have a full squad so that we can change if we need to. You don’t want players who are not playing over a long period and you want them to fight for an opportunity,” said Leonardo. “I feel good and Bruce [Arena] has told me that when I have an opportunity that I need to take it. I think that this will be my time to take the opportunity and show what I can do.”
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.”
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CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy will be without the services of Omar Gonzalez for this Sunday’s match against the Portland Timbers, but with the U.S. international unavailable, head coach Bruce Arena will have options at center back.
The primary option for Arena appears to be a tandem of Kofi Opare and Leonardo, who were able to keep the Colorado Rapids scoreless after Gonzalez was substituted with a left knee injury in Galaxy’s 1-0 defeat last Saturday. However, Arena could also slide in Tommy Meyer, who has enjoyed a strong season with LA Galaxy II as well as 2014 MLS SuperDraft first round draft pick Kyle Venter.
While there are other options for the two central defense positions, Leonardo and Opare seem like the safe bet for the Timbers match, which sits well with the second-year defender.
“I’ve played with him quite a bit in reserve games and in practice. Like myself, Leonardo is a big presence. He’s a more experienced player who is able to guide me and help me with my movements,” said Opare. “We are similar in our physicality and when Leonardo steps on the field he gives me confidence as a player which helps me be more at ease on the field.”
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy center back Leonardo took plenty of flak his second half defensive error in LA’s draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but the Brazilian defender believes that he’ll rebound.
Following training, I asked Arena about how Leonardo moves forward and whether he simply needs to have a short memory or should focus on correcting the concentration error. The response from the Galaxy boss was worth noting.
“It has to be a little of both. I’m sure you’ve made mistakes in your life. Fell off your tricycle at some point and had to learn from that. You put the Band-Aid on and you get on with business,” Arena said. “That’s basically what we’re doing. It’s all part of life, but unfortunately for athletes especially defenders or goalkeepers, when they make a mistake, everyone is an expert and has it all figured out. Leo was involved in a lot of plays in that game where he was excellent. However, he did make a crucial error; we learn from it and move on.”
As for Leonardo, the center back is bullish about his ability to recover from performances like the match against the Whitecaps and the Club Tijuana defeat earlier in the year.
“It happens to players,” Leonardo admitted. “I think the thing to understand that when we face more complicated games you learn from your mistakes.”
The LA Galaxy are off this weekend and as a way to recharge their batteries ahead of the long MLS season, the team's Brazilian contigent got into the Samba-spirit after training on Thursday and had a little bit of sing-a-long through the halls of StubHub Center.
Check it out below.