The MLS season is almost upon us.
When the LA Galaxy took the training pitch on Monday, they did so with the season opener against Real Salt Lake less than a month away. Following training, Bruce Arena provided an injury update on the likes of Todd Dunivant and Jaime Penedo, who the Galaxy boss says are approaching full fitness. Meanwhile, Robbie Rogers remains on the mend with Arena stating that he’s “getting closer to returning to the field.”
Even though the Galaxy are turning their focus to RSL, that does not mean that they’ve forgotten the issues of that led to the team’s downfall a year ago. In a conversation with reporters on Monday, midfielder Marcelo Sarvas eloquently laid out the team’s issues in 2013 and how exactly they hope to correct them this season.
“What we expect to see different than last year is that first: when we’re leading we need to be able to hold for results. Secondly, we conceded many goals on corners and fouls and we need to play differently [this year],” said Sarvas. “Third, we need to have presence in the box and have the ability to put the ball inside [the penalty area]. If we did this last season then we could be champions. The game is the same for us, we’re going to be building from the back, try to find the last pass and let just simply let our guys play.”
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s season opener is fast approaching and it appears that the team is rounding into fitness.
Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (broken finger and abductor injury) and defender Todd Dunivant (hamstring injury) have returned to full training while Robbie Rogers (ankle injury) has begun running and according to head coach Bruce Arena will “be ready to go soon.”
Penedo had been dealing with a broken pinky finger prior to the team’s trip to Mexico, but during the team’s trip to face Pumas UNAM, the Panamanian goalkeeper suffered an abductor injury that caused him to miss the club’s next three preseason matches. However, the goalkeeper is bullish that he’ll be ready to suit up once the March 8 season opener against Real Salt Lake rolls around and possibly as soon as Saturday’s closed-door scrimmage against Minnesota United.
“I've been training in the gym [after the injury] but now I’m back with the team in training,” said Penedo. “The opener is the goal and we’re working for that, but we’ll see what happens this weekend.”
Another player who has returned to action is midfielder Stefan Ishizaki who has overcame a stomach illness that kept him bedridden for two days last week. Now with the season opener less than two weeks away, the Swede is hitting the gym to make up for lost time.
“Last week, it wasn't that good; I ate something bad and had to stay in bed for two days. I couldn’t train so that set me back. This week, I've done a lot of extra work and I’m feeling better,” said Ishizaki. “[The season opener] is almost two weeks away and I know that I can get a lot of extra work in during that time.”
CARSON, Calif. – Todd Dunivant and Robbie Rogers have been largely absent from the LA Galaxy lineup this preseason, but both are expected to be back training next week.
Head coach Bruce Arena told reporters following the Galaxy’s 2-0 scrimmage victory over UCLA on Wednesday that Dunivant is unlikely to appear in Saturday’s “White vs. Blue” Game against LA Galaxy II, but is expected to return to training next week. Dunivant has yet to appear in a match this preseason.
Arena also revealed that Rogers, who suffered an ankle injury earlier this month, is likely to return to the practice field at some point next week.
While Dunivant and Rogers are still on the mend, third-year defender Tommy Meyer made his preseason debut with 30 minute shift on Wednesday. Meyer had been sidelined for much of the preseason due to a groin injury.
“He’s a got a long way to go,” said Arena. “He only played 30 minutes today and he has been out awhile. He’s just starting to get back into it.”
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy may have played most of their players during Saturday’s victory over FC Shirak, but there was one notable exception: midfielder Robbie Rogers.
Rogers was unavailable for the match against the Armenian side after suffering a left ankle sprain. The injury is an unfortunate one for Rogers who endured multiple injuries in 2013 and had been one of the team’s top performers in the preseason to date.
Although Rogers was unable to take the field against Shirak, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was hopeful that he’d be back on the field soon.
“Just an ankle [injury]. He’ll be ready to go soon,” said Arena. “A lot of players get injuries. It’s part of the game … his is a little unfortunate, it came out of nowhere, but he’ll be fine. He started the preseason off well and I’m hopeful that he’ll be back."
It’s that time again when we make our resolutions for the New Year in hopes of making our lives just a little bit better.
To properly ring in what promises to be an eventful 2014, I decided to make a list of LA Galaxy New Year’s Resolutions. Now this list ranges from my own thoughts about what the team needs to a few other ideas on how to improve the team and MLS in the New Year.
* Build toward the future: continue to offer playing time to younger players like Jack McBean, Rafael Garcia and Greg Cochrane. One of the team’s greatest successes of 2013 was that head coach Bruce Arena afforded plenty of valuable game time to players like the three aforementioned youth. With international commitments and injuries likely to cause problems yet again, the Galaxy boss should continue his policy of giving time to emerging young talent.
*Deal with change: There will be some notable absences from the LA Galaxy roster in 2013, but none will be bigger than the departures of longtime right-sided player Sean Franklin—who was selected in Stage One of the MLS Re-Entry Process by D.C. United—and Jose Villarreal who was sent on a year-long loan with Cruz Azul. Both players were frequent contributors a year ago and will need to be replaced in the coming weeks.
*Allow Juninho to receive more responsibility in the attack especially on free kick situations. The Brazilian midfielder saw his offensive impact stunted in 2013, but he’ll be expected to carry more of the load next season especially on set piece opportunities.
*That being said, LA must show more resilience on defending set pieces and second ball opportunities to prevent the deficiencies that caused the club to fail last season. We've gone over this one many, many times.
*Find a new center forward to play alongside Robbie Keane to add a natural target striker to the Galaxy attack. During the club’s final media availability of 2013, Arena stated that finding this type of player was priority number one for LA ahead of the next campaign and with the transfer window open; the Galaxy will have the chance to get their man. With a target presence alongside Keane, Landon Donovan could transition back to the right midfield and offer greater width to the midfield.
*Build off what was learned in 2013: Continued production from Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo. LA’s two breakout stars in 2013 were Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo who became regular members of the Galaxy starting XI by season’s end, but production must continue to progress into 2014. For Sarvas, he’ll likely need cede some of his offensive responsibilities to his midfield partner Juninho and contain his physical exuberance that caused him to lead MLS in fouls committed last year. Meanwhile, Penedo must continue to progress as a goalkeeper and cut down on mistakes that led to goals down the stretch.
*More professional growth from Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers. The two attackers experienced inconsistent seasons in 2013, but the New Year brings greater expectations for both to provide reliable contributions for LA. If the pair can develop into offensive weapons, LA may have an added attacking dimension—particularly on the flanks— that was sorely lacking last season.
*Be more successful: Make a strong run in the U.S. Open Cup. The LA Galaxy have gone out in the third round in the U.S. Open Cup to the Carolina RailHawks each of the last two years, but with no CONCACAF Champions League waiting for them in the fall, a long run in the Open Cup should be beneficial for the team to provide minutes to their entire roster. Also, winning the USOC will help place the team back into the CCL for the 2015-16 tournament.
*Continue see the LA Galaxy Academy grow and produce players who could become valuable members of the first team in the future. LA Academy forawrd Haji Wright garnered a lot of the headlines toward the end of the year, but LA’s academy teams are continuing to show promise in the form of players like Adonis Amaya, Jaime Villarreal and many others.
*Good health to Robbie Keane who is recovering from surgery on both of his Achilles as he looks to get ready for the preseason. The Galaxy are hoping to have their captain back to full health by the start of preseason, but what is most important is having him fit and ready for the start of the season and the all-important CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal against Club Tijuana in March.
*Travel More: Get off to a strong start against Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal and keep dreams of the FIFA Club World Cup alive. The LA Galaxy’s quest for continental glory begins in March as they host the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals against Club Tijuana. With a victory at home, the Galaxy will be in strong standing as they look to advance past Xolos and reach the CCL semifinals for a second consecutive year in front of a hostile crowd at Estadio Calliente.
*Prosperity for Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan as they look to make their World Cup dream come true. Both Galaxy Designated Players appear to be strong candidates to make U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but both will need to stay healthy and in form to ensure a place on the plane to Brazil. If they’re able to reach Brazil, the pair is likely to be in Klinsmann’s starting XI and can expect to be major contributors as the U.S. hopes to advance from Group G over the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Here’s hoping for more moments like this one from four years ago.
*New ventures for the coming year: New MLS Television deals. Southern California is spoiled with the great Galaxy coverage on the Time Warner SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, but in 2014, MLS will look to negotiate their new national television deals which will play a major role in the league’s growth going forward. More financial resources from national television partners can only help grow the league which hopes to be among the world’s best during the next decade.
*Continue to foster a connection with the readers of this blog and all content on LAGalaxy.com. What truly makes my job worthwhile is interacting with all of those that enjoy my work on the LA Galaxy Insider Blog and LAGalaxy.com, and in 2014, I hope to have greater interaction with you the readers so that we can place the type of content that you’re looking for on this space.
Happy New Year.
Sean Franklin is gone, but now who starts at right back in 2014 for the LA Galaxy?
The frontrunner for the position is veteran A.J. DeLaGarza who started 10 of his 28 regular season league appearances at right back in 2013. This move would allow Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena to start Kofi Opare, Tommy Meyer or Leonardo alongside Omar Gonzalez at center back while Todd Dunivant remains a mainstay on the left-side of the defense.
Meanwhile, behind DeLaGarza is Homegrown defender Oscar Sorto who endured a mixed rookie season that saw him earn a place on the U.S. squad at the Under-20 World Cup and appear in two CONCACAF Champions League matches for the Galaxy. Although the 19-year-old defender was impressive during the U-20 World Cup, he admittedly endured uneven form throughout the season including a poor showing in LA’s CCL group stage finale against Isidro Metapán in October. Heading into his second year as a professional, the Galaxy coaching staff will need Sorto to be more disciplined in training as he seeks to develop into a trusted backup behind DeLaGarza.
Regardless of what improvement that Sorto makes in the coming months, one would expect the Galaxy to use the MLS Re-Entry Draft or the 2014 MLS SuperDraft to bolster their right back depth.
Franklin’s departure will also have an impact on the right side of the midfield for LA as Hector Jimenez and Robbie Rogers appear to be front-runners to start out wide. Each player had moments of success in 2013, but the Galaxy will need greater consistency on the right next season. If Arena is unable to get steady production out of these two players, he may opt to place Landon Donovan along the right and push a player like young forwards Jack McBean, Jose Villarreal or Gyasi Zardes up top alongside Robbie Keane.
Thoughts on these ideas?
Share them below.