CARSON, Calif. (Wednesday, March 7, 2012) – The LA Galaxy will officially kick off the 2012 season tonight when they take on Toronto FC in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal at Rogers Centre. A capacity crowd of more than 45,000 is expected at the stadium as the Galaxy look to take control of the two-leg, aggregate goal series before next week’s second leg at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy were 1-2-0 on the road during the Group Stage of the Champions League. Wednesday’s game will be the first-ever Champions League game that the club plays in Canada. The game will be broadcast live on FOX Soccer (English), TeleFutura (Spanish), and online at concacaf.com and lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive starting at 5 p.m. PT.
The team will return to Southern California immediately after the game ahead of Saturday’s MLS regular season opener against Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center in a rematch of the 2011 Western Conference Championship. That game, which is presented by Herbalife, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. with the club raising their 2011 Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup championship banners prior to the game. For more information about this game or to purchase tickets, please visit www.lagalaxy.com/tickets.
Galaxy Injury Report
OUT – Adam Cristman (Concussion), Omar Gonzalez (Left Knee – Surgery), Bryan Jordan (Left Hamstring – Strain), Leonardo (Right Knee – Surgery), Kyle Nakazawa (Tonsillectomy), Jose Villarreal (Bilateral lower leg – surgery)
DOUBTFUL – None
QUESTIONABLE – None
PROBABLE – None
THREE SIGNED: The Galaxy officially added three players to their roster on Tuesday when the club signed defender Bryan Gaul and midfielders Kenney Walker and Rafael Garcia. Walker was selected by the Galaxy in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft, while Gaul and Walker were taken in the first and second round of the MLS Supplemental Draft respectively. All three have been with the Galaxy throughout the preseason and helped the club win the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Ariz. last week. All three players accompanied the team to Canada for Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal against Toronto FC and are eligible to make their debut in that game.
Walker was a four-year starter at Louisville, starting 76 of the 80 games that he appeared in for the Cardinals while also helping them reach the 2010 College Cup Final. He had a career-high five goals as a senior in 2011 while adding six assists in 23 games as he led his team to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Primarily used in the center of midfield, the Wickliffe, Ohio native finished his college career with nine goals and 19 assists. He appeared in five of the club’s nine preseason games, converting his penalty kick in LA’s shootout win over New England in the Desert Diamond Cup Final.
A four-year starter at Bradley, Gaul began his college career as a defender and midfielder before being moved up front ahead of the start of his junior season. In his final two seasons at Bradley, the 6-foot-5, Naperville, Ill. native, scored 23 goals and added eight assists, giving him 31 goals and 13 assists in 83 games for his college career. He was an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection as a junior and again as a senior, when he finished second in the Conference in scoring. He played in eight of nine games during the preseason, including 90 minutes in the Desert Diamond Cup Final against New England.
Rounding out the Galaxy’s newly-signed trio is Granada Hills, Calif. native Rafael Garcia. An All-Big West Conference First Team as a senior in 2011, Garcia started all 50 of the games that he played in at Cal State – Northridge from 2009-11, tallying a career-high six assists as a junior. He appeared in two games during the preseason, missing part of the first month of camp while recovering from an illness.
While those three were signed, the Galaxy did not offer contracts to defenders Justin Davies and J.T. Murray, leaving the club’s roster at 31 players heading into the MLS season opener on Saturday against Real Salt Lake.
TWO OPEN THE SEASON ON DISABLED LIST: Central defenders Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo will each open the season on the Disabled List as they continue to recover from serious knee injuries. Each player will be forced to miss at least the first six games of the MLS season, meaning that they are eligible to make their MLS season debuts on April 28 against FC Dallas.
Gonzalez underwent surgery in January to repair a torn left ACL that he suffered while on loan with FC Nürnberg of the German Bundesliga. He is scheduled to miss 7-9 months from the time of the injury, which occurred in his first day of training with Nürnberg. This is Gonzalez’s first trip to the Disabled List since being selected by LA in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. He has played in and started 87 of the club’s 94 regular season games in that time as well as all 11 postseason games that the Galaxy have played in that time. He has only missed three games during his first three seasons in MLS because of injury.
Gonzalez will be joined on the Disabled List by Leonardo, who is moving closer to a return to action after tearing the ACL and LCL in his right knee on April 17, 2011 in a 2-1 win at Chicago. The Brazilian defender, who was signed permanently by the club last month after spending his first two seasons with the Galaxy on loan, underwent surgery a few days later and has not been able to return to action since. He played in 17 games during his first two seasons with the Galaxy, missing significant portions of each season because of injuries.
Those two are joined on the injury report by Adam Cristman, Bryan Jordan, Kyle Nakazawa and Jose Villarreal. Nakazawa and Villarreal did not join the club in Arizona for the final stage of their preseason while Cristman and Jordan were each injured against New York and Real Salt Lake respectively at the Desert Diamond Cup.
A NEW SEASON BEGINS: The LA Galaxy will open their 17th season in Major League Soccer on Saturday night when they host Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center. Prior to the game, the Galaxy will raise their 2011 MLS Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup championship banners, with the club giving away 20,000 replicas of the championship banner to fans before the game.
This is the third time that the Galaxy enters the MLS season as the reigning MLS Cup champion. They are 0-1-1 in their first game of the season after winning MLS Cup and 1-1-0 in their first home game of the year as defending champions. After winning their first championship in 2002, the Galaxy opened the 2003 season with a 1-1 draw at Columbus and then beat Colorado 2-0 in their first home game of that season. In 2006, after beating the New England Revolution for their second championship, the Galaxy lost to them 1-0 at home in their season opener with Clint Dempsey scoring the game’s only goal.
All-time, the Galaxy are 8-5-3 all-time in their first game of the regular season and 10-4-2 in their first home game of the year. LA have only opened the season on the road five times in their first 16 seasons of play, going 7-3-1 in the 11 season openers at home.
The only other time the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake have met in LA’s home opener was in April 2005 when the Galaxy claimed a 3-1 win at The Home Depot Center. The all-time leading scorer in club history, Landon Donovan scored the first two goals of his Galaxy career in that game while Cobi Jones added a second half goal for the club. Current RSL head coach Jason Kreis scored the first goal in that club’s history in that game, tying the score at 1-1 in the 29th minute.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP REMATCH: Saturday’s game against Real Salt Lake will be a rematch of the 2011 Western Conference Championship on November 6, which saw the Galaxy win 3-1 behind goals from Landon Donovan, Mike Magee and Robbie Keane to advance to their record seventh MLS Cup. That was the Galaxy’s third straight trip to the Conference Championship and the 11th time in 16 seasons of play that they had reached that stage of the postseason.
All-time, the Galaxy are 17-13-4 when taking on the team that they faced in the previous year’s Conference Championship. Since the start of the 2010 MLS season, the Galaxy are 3-1-0 in those games, sweeping Houston in 2010, winning 2-0 on the road and 4-1 at home after beating the Dynamo 2-0 in the 2009 Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center. One year later, the Galaxy split the season series with FC Dallas, losing 2-1 at Pizza Hut Park in May before winning 3-1 at The Home Depot Center in August. Dallas beat the Galaxy in the 2010 Western Conference Championship, winning 3-0 at The Home Depot Center.
CHAMPIONS LIVE AT THE HOME DEPOT CENTER: On Saturday, March 24, the Galaxy will host a special event at The Home Depot Center from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. entitled Champions Live at The Home Depot Center. Galaxy fans will have the chance to watch the club train while also meet the 2012 Galaxy squad. All Galaxy Season Ticket Holders, Galaxy Champions Pack buyers and Partial Plan holders will receive a complimentary ticket to the event while all other Galaxy fans can attend for a $10 donation to the Los Angeles Galaxy Foundation. Online donations and preregistration for the afternoon’s festivities, as well a complete schedule of the day’s events can be found at www.lagalaxy.com/championshdc.
In addition to the open training session, head coach Bruce Arena and captain Landon Donovan will address the crowd and help introduce the 2012 LA Galaxy. After training, the club will unveil a special Champions banner, which includes the names of all 2011 and 2012 Galaxy Season Ticket Holders, Partial Plan Holder and Champions Pack buyers. All fans will also have the opportunity to tour The Home Depot Center, purchase authentic team gear at the club’s Equipment Sale, attend a special Town Hall meeting with Galaxy Chief Operating Officer Chris McGowan and Vice President Chris Klein, meet the club’s broadcasters for the 2012 season, receive autographs from a number of past Galaxy greats and the club’s coaching staff as well as much more.
Additionally, all Galaxy Season Ticket Holders will have the opportunity to receive autographs from some of their favorite Galaxy players.
Fans can also purchase tickets to the event through a special deal that is currently being offered through Living Social. For just $25, fans can purchase one ticket to the Galaxy’s home game on March 18 vs. D.C. United or March 31 vs. New England and receive a ticket to the event on March 24 and a Robbie Keane t-shirt. This offer will run through Friday, March 9 and is sure to go fast so be sure to pick yours up today by visiting the club’s website.