CARSON, Calif. -- The Under-16 Academy level is admittedly one of transition as players look to blossom from skilled children into prospective professional.
One of the LA Galaxy U-16's finest young talents is defender Christian Onalfo, the son of assistant coach Curt Onalfo. The birth of Christian was something of a miracle for the elder Onalfo, who battled cancer in his twenties undergoing chemotherapy that caused him to initially fear if he would ever have children. But when Christian was born on July 26, 1997, the eldest Onalfo couldn't conceal his joy, exclaiming "he's perfect" as he held his son for the first time.
On the soccer field, Christian is a talented center back, whose physical size makes him an intriguing prospect to U-16 head coach Craig Harrington.
"Physically, he's got the body, he's got to mature because it's his first year playing at the [U-16] level, but he's got a lot of plus sides," Harrington said after the Galaxy U-16s fell to Chivas USA's U-16's last Sunday. "Obviously, with his dad being around, he knows what it takes. He's going to have a lot of growing up this year, but as he gets into his body because he's a big strong lad and grows [on the field] by playing at this tempo all the time, he should be a rock for us in the back by next year."
Harrington isn't the only one that believes in Onalfo's skills as his father Curt is pleased with how is son has developed.
“It’s very satisfying, as a parent, you always want the best for your kid. He’s an extremely bright kid and he’s shown that he has a passion for soccer," said Onalfo. "He’s grown up around professional players and teams, that has bled off on him a little bit. It’s not easy being the son of a coach because you get the microscope on you a little bit. But he’s an extremely bright young man and he’s turning into a really good soccer player, but whatever success that he has in it, I’ll be proud of him.”
As he continues his development, the youngest Onalfo admits being the son of a coach has been vital for his development.
"It's been a great experience. I look at the defenders and see what they do so that I can try to do it and improve," said Onalfo. "He taught me a lot of stuff and always helps me. He always tells me what I need to improve on so it's a great experience."
The United States National Team is just one round away from a trip to the 2014 World Cup.
The U.S. defeated Guatemala 3-1 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City on Tuesday with a pair of goals from Clint Dempsey and one from Carlos Bocanegra to qualify for the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The U.S. will be joined in the Hexagonal by Mexico, Panama, Honduras, Jamaica and either Costa Rica or El Salvador. The top three teams will advance to the 2014 World Cup while the fourth place team will face the champion from Oceania for a berth in the tournament.
As the U.S. turn their focus to the Hexagonal, which begins in 2013, LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan -- who was forced to withdraw from WCQ duty this time due to a bone bruise -- is a near certainty to play heavy minutes for the Americans as they look to earn their ticket to Brazil. However, Donovan isn't the only Galaxy player on the radar of U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's radar as defender Omar Gonzalez was on the team's provisional roster for the October qualifiers while defenders Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant as well as forward Edson Buddle have also been candidates for a spot in the U.S. set up.
Ahead of Hexagonal, which Galaxy players do you believe could help the U.S. earn their ticket to Brazil for 2014?
Share your thoughts below.
In an interview with the local media, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena confirmed his statements to Sirus XM FC radio by specifying Landon Donovan's injury as a bone bruse. However, the LA Galaxy captain's status remains in question for Sunday's game against the San Jose Earthquakes.
On Tuesday afternoon, the club listed Donovan as questionble with a left knee bone bruise for Sunday's match agaisnt San Jose. The Galaxy captain did not participate in training on Tuesday ahead of the club's off day on Wednesday, taking part in gym work for the second consecutive day this week. When questioned by reporters, Arena stated that Donovan's injury was a "not a long term injury" but a "short term" one and he is "day by day" as they look to evaluate the forward ahead of the San Jose match.
"We're taking it a day at a time with Landon, and were hopeful that he’ll be back in the near future," said Arena. "You never know with those things, you’ve got to get scans done and get a doctor's opinion."
Arena went on to state that he had only recently been made aware of the specificity of the injury, but was not in a rush to reveal the details.
"There was no rush. We had no game, right? The national team gave their opinion, and we took our time and evaluated him and didn't rush to any kind of judgment and haven’t so we'll just see," said Arena. " These things, you never know what they're like, but we don’t think that it’s anything that critical where we need to be giving notices on the hour on his condition."
International Roundup: Keane starts, Wilhelmsson sits and Keat makes his longest international appearance
Four of the five LA Galaxy players on International Duty participated for their respective nations on Tuesday.
In the first match of the day, Dan Keat made his longest international appearance to date, making a 24 minute stint as a substitute in New Zealand's commanding 3-0 victory over Tahiti. Meanwhile in Europe, Robbie Keane started and had a few dangerous chances while going 81 minutes for Ireland in their 4-1 victory over The Faroe Islands while Jose Villarreal and Javan Torre started for the United States Under-20's in their 3-2 victory over the Azerbaijan Under-21's to clinch the Marbella Cup.
The lone player not to feature was Christian Wilhelmsson did not appear for Sweden in their dramatic 4-4 tie with Germany.
Photo by Robert Mora/LA Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. -- It's impossible not to notice LA Galaxy Under-18 forward Justin Dhillon on the soccer field.
The 17-year-old Dhillon stands an imposing 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds and has become well-known throughout the youth soccer level for his mix of size, speed and ball skills. In four Development Academy matches this season, Dhillon is the second leading goal scorer on the team -- behind Jack McBean who has four -- including one open the scoring of Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Chivas USA U-18s. Throughout Dhillon's youth career, the forward has racked up honors including being placed on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy First XI for 2010-2011 season while the wide forward from Rancho Santa Margarita was at the Galaxy's Under-16 level.
According to Top Drawer Soccer, Dhillon has committed Cal Poly in the fall and will begin his college career in San Luis Obispo, but Galaxy U-18 head coach Eddie Soto believes that if he continues his development, the forward could grow to even greater heights.
"Justin is such a dynamic player," said Soto. "With his physical attributes, with his size and how good is with his feet. I think that the biggest challenge that he needs to overcome is his consistency. When he’s on, the kid is very special and it’s one thing that we’re working on in training is demand more from him in training every day. I think that will carry over when he plays…It’s a process and for him, it’s day by day."
Below Dhillon describes himself as a player and his attributes...
DHILLON: "I play outside wing [forward] and my strength is that I'm fast and that I'm able to dribble past people a lot. The last couple of years, I've been a goalscorer, scoring quite a few goals."
(On using his size as an outside forward...)
DHILLON: "When people see me and I say that I'm a forwawrd, they always say, 'oh, he's a center forward and a target guy," but they always end up putting me back on the wing again because that's my best spot and where I grew up playing."
(On his future...)
DHILLON: "We'll see what happens in the future. I've been playing well right now, but hopefully, I'll be in the big stadium one day...college is always an option, but ultimately my dream is to be a professional."
Photo by Robert Mora/LA Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. – Raul Mendiola is a unique talent, but the 18-year-old midfield believes that he’s still got a ways to go in his development.
On Sunday, Mendiola went 90 minutes during the LA Galaxy Under-18’s 3-1 victory over the Chivas USA Under-18’s. Throughout the match, Mendiola was dangerous, playing the role of playmaker for the squad and helping to set up a number of dangerous scoring chances in the victory over Chivas. However, the Academy isn't the only place for Mendiola to hone his skills as the 18-year-old from San Bernardino is a regular sight at Galaxy first team training sessions and made a total of seven appearances for LA's Reserve League squad this season. The teenager;s development has excited many, including Galaxy U-18 head coach Eddie Soto, but the Galaxy youth coach admits that Mendiola remains a work in progress.
"He’s one of my favorite players and I’ve known him since he was a little kid. To coach him last year and I’m excited to be part of his development," Soto told LA Galaxy Insider last Sunday. "He’s in a different position than the other kids because he’s scratching the surface with the first team. He’s got a lot of learning to do so Raul is a player is a player that needs to get better at the day to day stuff. He’s got the tools and he’s got the ability that’s so different from what were used to seeing and we just have to make him more into a complete player."
Below Mendiola discusses the differences to playing with the Academy and training with the Reserves as well as his relationship with Soto...
MENDIOLA: “It’s different, it is way different with the Reserves, I’ve been getting 15 or 20 minutes so I just go in to try and help the team get three points, that’s all I focus on. When I come [to the Academy], I have to work a little more to show that I can be in the first team as well. I have a bigger responsibility when I’m [with the U-18s], but all info goes to the first team so I try to work on [my game]. But I just worry on getting three points all the time.”
(On his relationship with Soto…)
MENDIOLA: “It’s good. I remember that last year, I had a little bit problem so he came up to me to see what was going on so that he could help me focus on soccer because you have to be really good mentally. But I have a really good relationship with Eddie.”
(On what Soto tells him to improve…)
MENDIOLA: “Before the game, Eddie always tells me to defend, defend, that’s my biggest job. They also tell me with the first team to defend, defend because that’s what wins you games. Before the game, I just think about what Eddie tells me so that’s all that I worry about.”
(On what he believes that he needs to improve upon…)
MENDIOLA: “A little bit of everything, I’m still trying to get there with fitness, defending and attacking. Everything. You need to get better every day so day by day; we’ll see how it goes.”
CARSON, Calif. – In an interview with Sirus XM FC, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena revealed that Landon Donovan is suffering from a bone bruise and will likely be available for selection for either Sunday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes or the club's season finale against the Seattle Sounders on Oct. 28.
Questions have surrounded Donovan since the Galaxy captain suffered the bone bruise during the match against Real Salt Lake two weeks ago that ultimately caused him to withdraw from International duty with the U.S. National Team.
Donovan was not on the training ground during the portion of Monday’s training session open for media availability, but Arena told reporters that the Galaxy captain was working in the gym during the club’s training session. The Galaxy boss went on to state that no decision had been made on Donovan’s status or left back Todd Dunivant, stating “it’s Monday, we’re playing on Sunday.”
When asked if the club had any long term worries about the status of Donovan, Arena quipped.
“Short term all the time with Landon, our worries are always short term with Landon,” said the Galaxy head coach. “One day to the next.”
Any worries over Robbie Keane's Achilles have been eased as the Irish forward has been placed in the starting XI for Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against the Faroe Islands, the Irish federation announced on Monday.
An Achilles injury prevented Keane playing in Ireland's 6-0 defeat to Germany last Friday, but Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni has deemed the Ireland captain fit to participate.
The Ireland lineup for the Faroe Islands is below...
Kieren Westwood; Seamus Coleman, John O'Shea, Darren O'Dea, Marc Wilson; Robbie Brady, Keith Andrews, James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady; Robbie Keane, Jonathan Walters.
Photo by Robert Mora/LA Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. -- Whether it's with the LA Galaxy Academy, Reserve League squad or first team, Oscar Sorto has shown his skills at the young age of 18.
Sorto started and went a full 90 minutes during the LA Galaxy Under-18's 3-1 victory over the Chivas USA Under-18's on Sunday.
The Academy victory comes days after Sorto went 22 minutes in the Galaxy's 2-0 Reserve League victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps last Friday, playing primarily at right back. His stint against Vancouver was Sorto's sixth of the year with LA's Reserve Squad. His integration into the first team aside, it has been a whirlwind year for Sorto, who told LA Galaxy Insider last month that he was in conversations with the club for a Homegrown deal, just weeks after traveling to Sweden to train with Hammarby. With Sorto racking up experience with the first team, Galaxy U-18 head coach Eddie Soto is full of praise for the youngster from South Central Los Angeles.
“He’s very honest and a mature player. He’s doing really well with the first team and today was no exception,” said Soto on Sunday after LA’s victory over Chivas. “He’s probably one of the most consistent players that I've ever coached in all my years. He did well today, maybe a little more from him on the ball, but you're going to expect more with guys like that.”
Below Sorto discusses how his life with the Academy has changed now that he is training regularly with the first team.
(On playing with Academy after training with first team…)
SORTO: “It’s pretty hard, trying to communicate with the younger players because with the first team and the reserves, we have a different style of playing that is more offensive, but with the Academy, it’s more about possession.”
(On being a leader with the U-18s…)
SORTO: “I try to show the rest of players that I’m here for them to be their leader. For that, I have to work hard, both for me and for the team to show them that anyone can make it if you try.”
(On what can be learned from playing in the SuperClasico…)
SORTO: “You can learn a lot because at the next level, you're going to need to be physical all the time. I think that playing against Chivas is a good challenge for us.”
Photo by Robert Mora/LA Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy Academy is loaded with a number of talented prospects, but this Developmental Academy season, the Galaxy have added another to their ranks-- established youth prospect Paul Arriola.
Formerly of Temecula-based youth club Arsenal (the club of players like Raul Mendiola, Hector Jimenez and U.S. national team defender Carlos Bocanegra), Arriola made his Development Academy debut for the Galaxy Under-18's in their 3-1 victory over Chivas USA in the SuperClasiquito on Sunday. Throughout the match, the 5-foot-7 forward was a thorn in the Rojiblancos' side, creating several scoring chances, but was ultimately unable to finish on his own.
Arriola brings an impressive pedigree to the Galaxy, having spent years at Arsenal while also appearing on the United States' squad for the 2011 Under-17 World Cup. With a player Arriola joining the squad, Under-18 coach Eddie Soto admitted that the Galaxy had become "the place to be" among the Academies in Southern California.
“It should be. LA Galaxy is the premier team. We obviously want to have the best players and create the best environment for future Galaxy players with the first team. We take a lot of pride with what we do here and from what we do on and off the field so hopefully, we can produce more players to join the first team."
Below Arriola discusses the SuperClasiquito and his integration into the Galaxy Academy...
ARRIOLA: “It’s a big game so it’s always interesting to play against good players as well as former national team players and current national team players as well. And being able to play to play with the pros and because this is a Clasico, you have to prepare well and be mentally good. You learn to play quick and play for your team.”
(On describing himself as a player...)
ARRIOLA: "I’m not the biggest man, but I’m very quick and I wouldn’t say that I’m the best technically, but I’m very technical. A lot of Americans are starting to be more technical and we’re starting to be more comfortable on the ball. I’m a wide forward, I like to use my speed and be able to whip crosses in and get behind the defense and get opportunities.”
(On his professional aspirations...)
ARRIOLA: "I’d love to go professional. That’s been my dream since I was little and that’s the thing that I want to push for whether it’s before college or after a year of college or four years of college. Eventually, that’s my goal and whether it happens before or after, I’m still going to push for it no matter what."
(On his relationship with the UCLA coaches...)
ARRIOLA: "There are always asking about me and asking if I need anything and I always call them up to tell how I’m doing. We have a great relationship."
(On his future with the U.S. set-up...)
ARRIOLA: "I’ve been in the national team since I first started. I was in the Under-14 at 13 years old and I’ve been to the Under-17 World Cup, I lived in Residency. I’m currently with the Under-18 national team and we have a camp in Carson in November so I’m currently with them. I’d love to keep going as far as I can, but I just have to push myself and get myself in the right environment."
(On returning to full fitness after suffering an injury during an Under-18 tournament in Holland...)
ARRIOLA: "I’m feeling close. This is my first game since coming back from Holland, it was a good one. Being able to finish my chances at the very end is very important. It’s very important to finish those. Obviously, I’m not there yet, but it’s more mental now."
(If the friendships that he has on the team were the reason that he joined the Galaxy Academy...)
ARRIOLA: "Yes. They’re really great guys and getting the chance to interact with the first team and the reserves is good. Obviously, the Galaxy are one of the best programs in the united states as far as MLS teams are concerned."