CARSON, Calif. – After playing a series of Reserve League matches as an outside back, LA Galaxy rookie midfielder Rafael Garcia was right at home in the center of the park during LA’s 4-0 CONCACAF Champions League victory over the Puerto Rico Islanders on Wednesday.
Partnered alongside fellow industrious-minded midfielders Michael Stephens and Kenney Walker, the trio out-worked a veteran Puerto Rico group, dominating possession 58.4 to 41.6% on the night. Despite being tested out at outside back earlier in the season, the rookie from Cal-State Northridge did not miss a beat as he repeatedly disrupted Puerto Rico’s attack allowing Stephens and Walker to contribute to the attack.
Following the match, Garcia told reporters that he was pleased to return to the center of the park.
GARCIA: “It felt like home again. Familiar territory, it was good to get out there and run, break a sweat for 90 minutes and credit to all the guys that played tonight. I think they did a great job.”
(On LA’s control of an experienced Puerto Rico midfield…)
GARCIA: “We talked about I think this team playing in the reserve games, our work ethic is second to none. I thought that collectively we defended well, attacked as a unit so, like I said, credit to all the guys that played tonight and they guys that scored.”
(On the taking pride in winning an important game as youngsters…)
GARCIA: “Absolutely, we all want to show that we belong here and that whenever we get called upon we’re ready, so I thought the group was extremely, extremely well tonight in that sense. We’re just looking to make the best of our opportunities, I know myself, I’m just trying to work hard and make a name for myself and I think everyone that stepped on the field today gave 110% today.”
CARSON, Calif. – Much of the publicity from last night’s wild finish to the LA Galaxy’s 5-2 victory over Isidro Metapán will revolve around the controversial red card given to forward Robbie Keane, but midfielder Michael Stephens had a bit of a bizarre moment of his own.
In the 80th minute, as Stephens prepared to come on for David Beckham, the young midfielder was awarded a yellow card—seemingly— for time wasting. The moment was a strange one for the midfielder, but Stephens was able to shake it off quickly as he helped set up Juninho’s second goal capping off a five goal performance for LA.
Below are Stephens' thoughts from the match.
(On what the referee said to him as he awarded a yellow…
STEPHENS: “Nothing. He didn’t even say anything to me; he just gave it and kept on going, but who knows.”
(On the game’s emotional end…)
STEPHENS: “I think that the referee let the game get away from him for a bit and things got out of control there for a second. I thought that overall, we responded pretty well. Obviously, it’s unfortunate that Robbie got the red card, but we scored two goals after and I think that even once we conceded, we scored again so we responded well.”
(On whether the Galaxy were facing the refs and Metapán…)
STEPHENS: "You could say that definitely. There were some bizarre calls, but what are you going to do. We knew that coming into it, but I thought that we got on with it fine.”
(On facing Dallas…)
STEPHENS: “Obviously, we have a game this weekend, a really big game. I don’t think that[the Metapán] game was too physically demanding so I think that we will recover well.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Following the LA Galaxy's 5-2 victory over Isidro Metapan in the CONCACAF Champions League, LA Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant was dumbfounded by the events surrounding the last 20 minutes of the match.
Below are Dunivant's thoughts postgame...
(On the emotions at the end of the game…)
DUNIVANT: “Yeah it was emotional. I think that we felt unjustly given a PK against us and strange sequence on the red card. It’s frustrating when people try and take over the game like that, and don’t let the playing do the talking. So we had a three goal lead, and goal difference is important in this tournament, so getting that fifth goal to put us up three goals was huge. We had a lot of emotion with that.”
(On his perspective of the Keane red card…)
DUNIVANT: “Your guess is as good as mine. First he gives a yellow card for diving, and then compounds that mistake by giving him a red card. But a lot of times referees like to be bigger than the game and that was the case tonight.”
(On whether or not the referee was a typical CCL moment…)
DUNIVANT: "It was strange. You’d have to ask him. It’s crazy that a professional referee would come out and want to take over a game like that. It’s about the guys on the field; it’s not about the guys in the stripes. It blows your mind when things like that happen. There was a lot of frustration on our part with that, and we’ve got to learn from it and on move on.”
(On whether referees were a topic pre-game…)
DUNIVANT: “Absolutely it is. That was said. Robbie’s our captain; he should be allowed to talk to the referee. That’s part of how that relationship works. The captain is the guy that’s able to talk and to be a professional referee and have skin that thin is remarkable to me. You’ve got to have thicker skin than that.”
(On his perspective on Metapan’s first goal…)
DUNIVANT: “I don’t particularly remember the play leading up to it. I remember the ball kind of started to loop to the back post over Josh and I got a little piece of it, kept it out initially and then there was a scramble in front and I don’t know if David hit it or if their guy hit it. But it went off the post, across the goal and in, so kind of a fluky weird play. There was a little stretch in the first half where we kind of lost our composure a little bit but we responded well and got a goal back pretty quickly.”
(On whether or not he could hear what Robbie said…)
DUNIVANT: “I did not, no.”
(On whether Keane was simply frustrated…)
DUNIVANT: “Yeah, understandably so. That’s part of the game, to not know that as a referee is crazy to me.”
(On scoring five goals…)
DUNIVANT: “Yeah for sure it’s a positive. I mean, we won the game by three goals tonight and that’s huge. Goal differential is going to be big and there’s a chance that, last year there was a tie breaker with three teams and we won the group on it, so goal differential is big and we used that to our advantage last year and we started off well again in this tournament.”
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On Wednesday, while the LA Galaxy were playing the Columbus Crew, the United States' national team was making history.
LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and the rest of the U.S. team defeated Mexico on Orange, Calif. native Michael Orozco-Fiscal's 80th minute to win 1-0 for the U.S.' first victory on Mexican soil vs. El Tri.
Following the U.S.' historic victory, I caught up with Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant, a recipient of two U.S. appearances, for his thoughts on the win.
DUNIVANT: "It's massive, even though it's a friendly and it doesn't really mean anything, it means the world to soccer in the U.S. and the fact that we've never won in Mexico. I think that there's been a lot of talk about how good Mexico has been and how they've suddenly jumped so far ahead of the U.S. and we just had the first time we ever won in Mexico. So it makes quite a statement, it's not to say that suddenly everything is different, but it's a huge statement for our country and I think that everyone is really proud of that."
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On an emotional night, the LA Galaxy picked up a vital point in their run to the postseason with a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew.
The match ends a grueling nine game, month-long stretch for the Galaxy. LA will now have a brief four day break before returning to the training field on Monday to prepare for their CONCACAF Champions League match against Isidro Metapan at The Home Depot Center on August 23rd.
Below are Arena's thoughts on the match....
“We played okay. We’re a bit of a tired team. This has been a challenging trip. Obviously, the Crew played with a lot of emotion tonight. This is one of those games where a draw is a fair result for both teams.”
(On how he wanted the Galaxy to combat the emotion of the Crew...)
“Obviously it was hard to find 11 players that could play. We’re pretty exhausted from Sunday night and the trip across the country as well. It’s a little on the difficult side. We knew that this part of the season was going to be a little bit of an issue, and our guys did alright. We had some fatigue at the end of the first half. The Crew created a bunch of good chances probably between the 35 and 45 minute. At the end of the game, we positioned ourselves to win the game and you can’t ask for much more. It’s always good to get a point on the road, but we would have obviously preferred three.”
(On if he can imagine what the Crew is going through...)
“I can imagine a little bit. It’s certainly a very difficult situation. We feel for the Urso family and the Crew in this sad time and tragic event. We hope that time helps heal a little bit here. That can’t be an easy situation for the family or the organization. We wish our very best to the Urso family and the Crew. Anything we can do to support them, we would certainly do that.”
(On Mike Magee's status...)
"He's okay. He just got kicked."
CARSON, Calif. -- A day after a record setting night against Chivas USA, LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan took off for Mexico for the U.S.' friendly at the Estadio Azteca on Wednesday. Before departing for Mexico, Donovan spoke to reporters following the Galaxy's 4-0 victory over Chivas.
Below are Donovan's thoughts ahead of the friendly.
(On playing at Azteca...)
DONOVAN: “Any time that we play in Azteca, it’s pretty raucous, but I think that it will be a pretty exciting night, I would guess. We’ve been saying for a number of years how good their youth is and how well they’re producing players. Their 17s, their 20s and now their Olympic team so the future certainly looks bright for them and it’s going to be a big test for us.”
(On the importance of the friendly...)
DONOVAN: “Candidly, I don’t think it’s that important, but for a lot of guys that don’t get a lot of experience, I think that this will be a good experience, but it’s an awkward fixture date and I would say that most if not all the players don’t like this fixture date, we’d much rather do away with it, but it’s still a good opportunity to get a game like this.”
(On whether playing Mexico makes it more important...)
DONOVAN: “Sure, all things being equal it’s still against Mexico so we’ll be ready to play.”
(On former teammate Alan Gordon's call up...)
DONOVAN: “I just heard that, is that true? I didn’t even know that he was healthy, he didn’t play last night, did he? I think that we can say that he’s been as effective as a forward as anybody has been in the last few months of the season. I’m really happy for him, I’ll be happy to see him and if he gets a chance to play, what a great experience. We’ll see.”
CARSON, Calif. -- On both sides of the ball, the play of Brazilian midfielder Juninho was vital for the LA Galaxy in their 4-0 victory over Chivas USA on Sunday.
Tallying two goals on the night, Juninho was a frequent threat going forward as he showed his range, scoring a marvelous chip over goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in the 64th minute. Then, just ten minutes later, Juninho was able to finish a Landon Donovan pass from close range for the game's third goal of the night. Meanwhile, on the defensive side, Juninho teamed up well with countryman Marcelo Sarvas as LA's high pressure midfield was able to shut down the Chivas attack.
Below are Juninho's postgame thoughts:
(On the win being a statement...)
JUNINHO: "We knew we needed to win. We needed to get points to keep moving up in the table. We hope to get all the way to the top."
(On his two goal performance...)
JUNINHO: It was very good. Very good win for the team. And I think I showed I can score from outside the box."
(On celebrating in front of the Chivas supporters after his goal...)
JUNINHO: "It's the Clásico. Its very important."
(On his combination with Sarvas...)
JUNINHO: "We're two good players and we know we needed to work hard, and that's what we did."
(On the play of Donovan...)
JUNINHO: "He was huge. The win was very big, and he was a huge part of it."
CARSON, Calif. -- Last week's defeat to the Seattle Sounders left a bitter taste in LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane's mouth; one that he hopes to remove with a good performance in Sunday's SuperClásico against Chivas USA.
After scoring either a goal or an assist in five of the Galaxy's last six matches, Keane was unable to break through during the club's defeat against the Sounders last Sunday. The Irish forward will look to regain his scoring touch on Sunday against a Rojiblancos' defense has allowed just 21 goals this season, the second lowest total in MLS. Keane has enjoyed some success against Chivas, however, as he scored a goal and an assist during the last meeting between the two clubs on July 21st.
Below are Keane's thoughts from training on Friday...
(On erasing the sting from the Seattle loss...)
KEANE: “Of course, it’s always important to bounce back when you get a bad defeat which obviously we did last week so it’s important that we bounce back and it’s always good to bounce back against your rival so it’s a game that I know the lads are looking forward to, getting back on the field and eradicating the mistakes and the way we played last week.”
(On a victory in the SuperClásico putting distance between the Galaxy and other teams in the playoff hunt…)
KEANE: “Yeah, I think that’s important as well. We’re coming to the end [of the season] with ten games or so. It’s important that we create that gap and once you do that, you sort of guarantee the playoffs and then you never know what could happen. We could go on a good run again, which we hope that we can do so that’s what we’re looking for.”
(On thinking about playoff positioning after spending most of his career in Europe…)
KEANE: “It’s like the Champions League isn’t it? Getting that third spot. I think that it’s the same thing and of course, you have to have a goal, you know? Obviously our goal is to get into the playoffs. I think that it would be a tragedy if we didn’t do that. I think once we get a couple of results and we make a stand and we know that we’re in the playoffs then who knows what could happen? We could go on a good run and we want to finish as high as possible and that starts on Sunday against Chivas.”
CARSON, Calif. – A day after the MLS unveiled their new set of standings tiebreakers to the public, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena issued his criticism—not of the new standings tiebreakers—but of the league’s decision to use an unbalanced schedule for the 2012 season.
MLS revealed the unbalanced schedule for the 2012 season at the MLS Cup Final on November 20th, 2011. Citing concerns about travel and an uneven number of teams, the league opted to switch to the conference-based schedule in which clubs would play in-conference opponents three times and out of conference rivals, just once.
Below are Arena’s comments on the unbalanced schedule in their entirety...
“You don’t have control of that stuff. The playoff thing is one thing, but I think that the whole construction of the schedule this year with an unbalanced schedule is stupid. Absolutely stupid. To have a Supporters' Shield for that is stupid. I don’t know how that ever got through,” said Arena after training on Thursday. “I think I can tell you that most people think it’s stupid. It has not achieved anything or doing anything better in marketplaces and I think that without a doubt, the way to put together a schedule in this league is home and away. Period, end of discussion, Period, end of discussion. And if they need somebody to help them figure it out, the coaches would be happy to sit down with the people in the front office in MLS and show them how to do it. We’d be glad to do that; actually we’d prefer to do that honestly.”
SEATTLE – Playing on the right flank, Sean Franklin expected to play a major role during the Galaxy's match against the Seattle Sounders, but ultimately, it was not the impact that Franklin wanted.
As the Galaxy fell 4-0 to the Sounders on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, the normally steady Franklin struggled against the Seattle outside backs who were able to limit his chances and prevent the midfielder from aiding in the attack. Throughout the match, Franklin had difficulty connecting in the final third as he was dispossessed a total of 13 times, ultimately leading to his substitution in the 57th minute.
Although it was a difficult match for Franklin, his performance could see him shifted back to his familiar right back spot with A.J. DeLaGarza potentially teaming up with Omar Gonzalez in the back four.
Franklin’s thoughts on his showing are below…
(On the result…)
FRANKLIN: “As a team, we just didn’t play well tonight. We were bad defensively and offensively. Even though we had the ball, we didn’t create too many scoring chances, we only had a few shots and Bruce was saying that our first shot didn’t come till after the 80th minute and that’s unacceptable for the kind of team that we have. But we have to put this game behind us and worry about Chivas, that’s a must win game on Sunday.”
(On LA's struggles on the flanks…)
FRANKLIN: “They did a good job defensively, I had a couple of passes that weren’t good on the day and I have to be better to help my team out offensively. It’s just a rough day for our team and as I said, we got to put this one behind us and get it better for next weekend.”
(On his assessment of his own performance…)
FRANKLIN: “It’s still pretty new to me, there are a lot of things that I need to get better at in that position. That’s something that I try to do and I want to work on it to get better as a midfielder. I know that my primary position is right back and even though I’m comfortable at the right back position, I also want to be better at right midfield. It’s something that I’ve got to adjust to and get better if I’m going to be playing more right midfield then right back this year.”