MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano gives this Three Points to the LA Galaxy’s participation in the Guinness International Champions Cup. LA finished 1-2-0 in the tournament, which included a 2-1 loss to AC Milan on Wednesday night at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Bruce Arena’s squad finished the tournament with a fourth place finish.
THE LA GALAXY GIVE A FAIR ACCOUNT OF THEMSELVES IN TOURNAMENT
Many expected the LA Galaxy to be bringing up the rear in the Guinness International Champions Cup, but instead, the Galaxy were able to earn a respectable fourth place finish at the tournament, which included a 3-1 victory over 29-time Serie A title-holders Juventus at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
In all three matches, the Galaxy were able to stand toe-to-toe with illustrious opponents Real Madrid, Juventus, and AC Milan. What makes that idea most impressive is that LA’s reserve players like Kofi Opare, Jose Villarreal, and Brian Rowe gave some of the best team’s showings. Whether it was Opare’s late block on Stephan El Shaaraway in the 2-0 defeat to AC Milan or Jose Villarreal’s wonder strike against Madrid, the Galaxy’s youngsters shined in the ICC.
In the end, the Galaxy will hope that these young players will be able to grow from the experiences of matching up against some of the world’s best. Whether it was learning when to make a run toward goal or a touch more awareness on the field, these exhibitions could be valuable learning tools for LA’s youngsters.
MOVING PLAYERS FORWARD FROM INJURY
Perhaps the most tangible gain from the ICC was the Galaxy’s ability to move along several players from injury—most notably captain Robbie Keane.
Keane went 45 minutes in the Galaxy’s 3-1 victory over Juventus last week and was then on the field for nearly an hour during LA’s defeat to Milan in Miami. The matches were Keane’s first since he suffered a strained left hip flexor against the Portland Timbers in mid-July. In each match, Keane appeared sharp as he was able to tally a goal and create several chances in the win over Juventus. As LA return to league play, the Galaxy will need Keane in peak shape for the stretch run.
Not only did Keane have a chance to get back on the field, but the tournament also gave him time to play up front alongside Landon Donovan, a partnership that worked so well late in the 2012 MLS season. Those two were joined on the field against Milan by goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who played the opening 45 minutes against his former club, after missing the first two ICC matches with a back injury.
WILL THERE BE A POST TOURNAMENT BUMP?
Now that the ICC has concluded, the real games begin once again as the Galaxy will shift their focus to Sunday’s clash against FC Dallas.
Typically, the Galaxy experience a bit of an emotional bump after friendlies as players look to apply the lessons gained from playing against top teams to their league adversaries. Not only will LA get a morale boost, but they’ll also leave their week-long training camp in sweltering Miami better acclimated to the Dallas heat that has caused them considerable problems in the past.
The games will come hard and fast for LA now as they return to league play against Dallas and will begin CONCACAF Champions League play later this month. Ultimately, it will be those games that will judge the Galaxy’s 2013 a success or a failure, but it is possible that they may exit the ICC more primed for another title run.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com