Arena talks MLS Cup, Keane and Houston in MLS teleconference

CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena  and midfielder Mike Magee spoke with journalists from around the country this afternoon for a teleconference in lead up to Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center.

Below are a series of select quotes from Arena.  The complete audio can be found here

(On Robbie Keane & Landon Donovan’s partnership…)

ARENA: “I think they are two good players who know how to react off one another. They are technically similar and they both understand each other well. Regardless of where we play Landon, he connects with Robbie. If he is in the midfield it’s still the same kind of relationship. It comes down to two soccer players who understand each other.”

(On Robbie Keane after the Euros 2012…)

ARENA: “There is a noticeable change in that he has obviously scored a lot of goals since his return. I think we see this all the time with players that are involved with national teams. When there are significant competitions their focus is sometimes on those championships with the national team. Maybe they hold back a little bit so they don’t pick up an injury.  I think when Robbie came back in late June he was 100% committed to the Galaxy. He’s played as well as any player in the League since late June.”

(On what he did to turn things around this season…)

ARENA: “Just like with any team there are things inside the team that you have to correct. Whether its chemistry, players understanding their roles, a coach doing a better job with leadership and trying to really get at some of the issues. Things like that we keep inside our team. But they are issues that are inside every team. All teams go through good stretches and bad stretches. Our bad stretch lasted a little longer than we would have liked but in 2011 we had similar types of issues. You just have to get together as a team and sort through those issues and help steer everyone in the right direction. That’s essentially what we did in general terms.”

(On if it was a steeper challenge considering the expectations…)

ARENA: “If you’re in coaching long enough or if you’ve been playing long enough, you understand that these issues are all part of the process. One isn’t any easier than the other. That’s why our profession is so unique and challenging. People from the outside don’t understand it. It’s equally challenging every year whether you’re having an outstanding season or a poor season. Coaching at these levels is simply challenging. It’s an everyday process and you can’t step away from it and you have to stay focused at all times. So I can’t say that this year has been more difficult than some others but it’s certainly been challenging.”

(On the turning point in the Galaxy season…)

ARENA: “It was right along that period of time where we had that game against Salt Lake, beat Vancouver at home and then lost to San Jose on the road but I thought we played well, I was okay with that. Right before the game in Philadelphia we were at the midway point. We set our goals and we knew what we had to do in the next 17 games and that was get 30 points. We ended up getting 34 but we went out and lost against Philadelphia. Maybe on a day when we were a little bit sharper we win by 3 or 4 goals to be honest. Then we went on a good run beating Chicago on the road, Portland on the road and then pulled out a draw against Vancouver in the last minute. Right around the Salt Lake game was when it started.”

(On Houston’s changes since last year…)

ARENA: “They are more dangerous. Brad [Davis] is an outstanding passer who has great service on set pieces. In [Boniek] Garcia, you have a player that’s different. He’s creative and dynamic with the ball at his feet. He’s a threat to both score goals and set up goals. Those are two very good attacking players to add to group who scores goals on set pieces, who has a goal scorer in [Will] Bruin. They are two midfield players who are among the best in the League. When you have that, their team is going to be considerably better.”

(On the play of Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall…)

ARENA: “Tally has been outstanding. I think he’s turned into a really good goalkeeper. He has a lot more experience after playing consistently over the past couple of years.”

(On how the Galaxy compare to the D.C. United team he coached…)

ARENA: “It was a different era so I don’t think you can make comparisons. My D.C. United team had some outstanding stars and some players that contributed and supported them. Then we had a nucleus of players who blended in well with our star power. I guess you could say we have that here at the Galaxy. Guys understand their roles and understand how to play with Robbie, Landon and David which in the end up being a team. That’s what this is about, developing good teams. So in that way those similarities are certainly there. I would also say this. Our League is not going to have dynasties. The make-up of the league and how we do our business doesn’t permit that.  There are going to be teams that are good for a couple of years and then they fall out of it for a while and they come back again. That’s just the reality of Major League Soccer. I don’t think you’re going to see the LA Galaxy be a team for the next ten years that will be competing year-in and year-out for the championship. It’s just not possible in our single entity.”

(On the play of midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson…)

ARENA: “I think he gives us some width in our attack. He’s a player who is comfortable playing out wide and he’s good on both sides of the ball. He’s an experience player and he’s technically sound. He’s a player that when we add him to the equation he makes us more dangerous as an attacking unit.”

(On Houston’s left back Corey Ashe…)

ARENA: “Over the last two or three years he’s gotten a lot more consistent. He’s physically strong and is quick to deal with any issues in his space. He’s also good going forward.  He’s developed into one of the best left backs in Major League Soccer.”