KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Saturday's match between the last two teams to win MLS Cup just got a bit more intriguing as Sporting Kansas City center back Aurelien Colin saw his red card rescinded by an Independent Review Panel.
The decision to reverse Colin's one game suspension after he was red carded in the 55th minute of Sporting's 2-1 win over the Crew last weekend was done "unanimously" according to an MLS press release. Colin, 28, has made 15 appearances for Sporting in 2014 while tallying two goals.
Although Kansas City will be able to call upon their starting center back and chief set piece scoring threat, they will not have the services of defensive midfielder -- and former LA Galaxy player -- Paulo Nagamura who was ruled out on Friday with a left ankle sprain. Lawerence Olum is expected to return to the Sporting starting XI after filling in for the injured Nagamura last week.
CARSON, Calif. – The question of who should be the starting striker tandem is one of the main topics among LA Galaxy circles. However, based on the meteoric rise of Gyasi Zardes, it may not be a debate much longer.
The Galaxy won two titles with the strike force of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, but in recent weeks it has been Zardes who has started alongside the Irishman thanks to his torrid scoring run of six goals in five contests. LA’s pairing of Keane and Zardes bore fruit again on Wednesday with both strikers tallying a brace in the team’s 5-1 victory over the New England Revolution.
While Donovan and Zardes have often swapped positions in recent months, Keane told reporters that it may be time stop thinking of the second-year attacker as a midfielder.
"As long as he keeps continuing to learn and keeps continuing to score goals, and understanding how to be a striker and playing with someone else," said Keane. "It’s not about just running in behind, it’s about linking up and playing with people and understanding when you play up front it’s a partnership and understanding when I have the ball he has to run off and understand where he’s going to go.
“Most of the time I’ll find him. If not, I’ll try to find him. I keep telling him just get in behind and I’ll find him."
And it’s Keane’s vocal nature that Zardes attributes to his ability to find spaces behind opposing defenders and create dangerous scoring opportunities.
“I definitely have been listening to Robbie," Zardes told reporters on Wednesday night. "He’s constantly talking to me, even throughout the game. He’s giving me little tips on what he’s going to do, and he told me to pay attention to the first ball once you’re running through. We worked on it in practice, and we did it in the game. When Robbie gets the ball at his feet, I know he’ll find me.”
Who should start up top for the LA Galaxy when they play Sporting Kansas City on Saturday? Do you prefer the tandem of Keane and Donovan or Keane and Zardes?
Share your thoughts below.
CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez has his sights set on returning to the field for the LA Galaxy, but don’t count on him participating in Saturday’s clash with Sporting Kansas City.
The Galaxy center back participated in training on Thursday for the first time since returning from World Cup duty with the U.S. National Team where he endured a right ankle injury during the USMNT’s round of 16 defeat to Belgium.
“The ankle is moving along well,” Gonzalez told reporters. “I practiced today for the first time and it feels good to be back on the field with the team.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena echoed Gonzalez’s optimism stating that the defender is “moving along” in his recovery, but is “unlikely” to play a role in Saturday’s match in Kansas City.
Although Arena did not reveal a timetable on Gonzalez’s return, the defender himself admitted that he is hoping to earn minutes in LA’s match against Manchester United next week before making a potential full-fledged return against Seattle Sounders FC on July 28.
“I think that [Seattle] is the target game. It’ll be a crucial game for us. It’ll our first game at their place and we need points,” he said. “The United game is definitely a good game to get some minutes so that I can get back out there and get ready for Seattle.”
CARSON, Calif. – Stefan Ishizaki has spent plenty of time practicing his free kicks in recent weeks and on Wednesday his hard work paid off.
In the 75th minute after Juninho won a free kick just outside the penalty area, Ishizaki let loose a curling shot that bounced off a defender and into the net for LA’s fourth goal of their 5-1 rout of the New England Revolution. The strike capped a performance that also featured a first half assist of Gyasi Zardes’ goal just before the 20 minute mark.
With his goal, Ishizaki has the distinction of scoring 50 percent of LA’s free kicks since David Beckham left the club as the Galaxy have scored just two goals off free kicks since the Englishman’s departure.
“That’s what I’ve kind of built my career on, my right foot. I have always been taking corners and free kicks,” said Ishizaki. “Recently, I’ve had a couple injuries in the past couple of years that kept me from practicing free kicks and now I feel fit and I feel good. I’ve been making a lot of free kicks in practice, so that gives you the confidence you need when you step up in games.”
The Galaxy will need that confidence heading into Saturday’s clash against Sporting Kansas City, but before the team turns the page to Sporting, Ishizaki admits that the victory was a needed one for LA.
“We’ve been waiting on one of these games to really score a lot of goals,” he said. “We felt a little bit unlucky at times, but at the end of the day, if it doesn’t go in you’ve not done well enough. So it was a good feeling today to get a couple in.”
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena addressed reporters after the team's 5-1 win over the New England Revolution.
His quotes are below.
(On the team’s mistakes...)
ARENA: “I think in the first half when New England had a player sent off, our guys relaxed and I thought our last 15 minutes in the first half were poor.”
(On Robbie Keane...)
ARENA: “He’s picked it up over the last two or three weeks. Robbie is going to score goals and strikers at time get into a bit of a slump, they go scoreless a while, but there is never a doubt in our minds that Robbie will produce goals for us. Whether it’s directly from him, or assisting, we know he is going to be in and around the goal and be dangerous. So it was just a matter of time he hit the back of the net again.”
(On the team’s defense...)
ARENA: “Just working with those players since preseason, getting them organized and getting them enough games. So tonight, obviously the first half we start with A.J. [DeLaGarza] at left back and match up Leonardo and Tommy [Meyer], which we probably haven’t done a whole lot. With Dan getting sent off, it was a good exercise playing with three in the back, so I thought that was good. They’ve reacted in a positive way all year. As you know, we’ve lost Omar [Gonzalez] for a while, Todd Dunivant really most of the season, James Riley. Yet when a player’s name is called, they step up so I’m really pleased with the group. Kofi [Opare] was ready to go tonight as well. We’ve got good depth in our back line, and I think as we get into the second half of the season, I think it’s going to pay dividends for our group.”
(On Kenney Walker...)
ARENA: “Good job, Kenney [Walker] has played a fair amount for us over the last couple of months and did a good job. I thought he got a little tired in the second half and made the change. I thought Marcelo Sarvas was brilliant in his 20 minutes; did exactly what we needed him to do.”
(On Gyasi Zardes...)
ARENA: “He’s grown as a player, more confident. We put him in a difficult position in the second half, having to play out on the right and I thought he was excellent. He played on both sides of the ball so we’re real pleased with him. He is getting a lot more confident, and he has been a really good player over the last couple of months.