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Aug 032012
cristiano ronaldo 532 celebrating alvaro morata goal in la galaxy vs real madrid pre season 2012 2013 Galaxy Break Attendance Record; Madrid Continually Break Galaxy Defense
Cristiano Ronaldo (#7) and teammates celebrate yet another Real Madrid goal

If you had told someone before the season started David Junior Lopes would score goals against Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid this year, they’d have likely had you committed. Then again, if you had said the LA Galaxy would start two Chivas USA rejects at centerback 17 times this season and counting, I’d have laughed in your face.

But in front of a record crowd of 30,317 at the Home Depot Center on Thursday night, Lopes netted the Galaxy’s only goal in a 5 – 1 loss to the reigning Spanish champions, Real Madrid.

Having his full compliment of stars last night, Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena fielded likely his strongest line-up with both David Beckham and Landon Donovan starting along with Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane, Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas to round out a side that would have been considered star-studded in any city around MLS. Unfortunately for LA, Madrid’s Jose Mourinho had the luxury of fielding Kaka, Gonzalo HiguaínÁngel Di María and José María Callejón, leaving the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema on the bench to start.

It would be Higuaín opening the scoring in just the second minute of the contest, as he ghosted in behind Lopes before finishing an excellent Di María through ball beating goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Di María would continue to wreak havoc, scoring in the match’s 11th minute after twisting and turning leftback Bryan Gaul in the Galaxy penalty area before finishing at Saunders’ near post. 

But after Madrid went up 2 – 0 in quick succession, the Galaxy did find their feet and managed some nice combination play that showed they at least belonged on the field against they European counterparts.

Gonzalez latched on to a Beckham free kick near the Madrid far post and nodded into the path of Lopes in the 23rd minute of the match. The Galaxy centerback bungled the ball into the gaping net for his second goal in Galaxy colors, both coming in midseason friendlies with European competition.

After halving the lead, the Galaxy would get no closer though. Ronaldo was brought on to huge applause at the half, and although the superstar did not find the net for Los Blancos, Madrid would finish the match with three more goals, with the match ending 5 – 1 in favor of Madrid.

The Galaxy now return to MLS play with a critical match-up Sunday at the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders are just one point clear of  LA and with two games in hand, and the result of this match could have playoff implications for both teams.

Magic Mike

 Posted by on July 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm  Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS
Jul 302012

With David Beckham channeling James Bond and Landon Donovan unavailable due to yellow card accumulation, Mike Magee returned to the Galaxy starting XI from injury and scored the team’s only goal in hard fought match from Big D.

magee jimenez fcd Magic Mike

Taking a feed from the Galaxy’s only designated player fielded on the night, Robbie Keane, Magee found a pocket of space in front of the FC Dallas penalty area and curled a left-footed shot just inside the far post of goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. The sometimes forward, sometimes midfielder’s goal was his fourth of the season and kept the Galaxy winning train rolling right along at five games without a loss.


Mission Accomplished

 Posted by on July 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm  Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS
Jul 252012
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A bit of horseplay between ex-teammates

Don’t embarrass yourselves and don’t get hurt.

I’m paraphrasing, but that’s likely what the LA Galaxy’s Bruce Arena told his players before their friendly against Tottenham Hotspur at the Home Depot Center on Tuesday night. And despite being without captain Landon Donovan and midfielder David Beckham, at the MLS All-Star Game and the London Olympics respectively, the Galaxy were acquitted on both accounts, getting a 1-1 draw with the Premiere Leaguers and finishing the match unscathed.

It was the visitors that opened the scoring in the friendly Tuesday. Welsh sensation and possible Team GB dodger Gareth Bale beat Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk with a header from 12 yards out in the 17th minute of play.

The Galaxy would return fire in the match’s 28th minute with a lightning quick turnaround of a failed clearance from a Galaxy corner kick. Receiving the ball just outside Spur’s penalty area, midfielder Marcelo Sarvas’s  nicely lofted ball to the opposite side of the area was met by Hector Jimenez with a deft one-time pass sent squarely across the Tottenham box and onto the path of defender David Jesus Lopes. Lopes’ sliding effort was easily deposited into an open net and the Brazilian had his first goal in a Galaxy uniform.

The scoring would end there for LA and Spurs, with the Galaxy holding their own for much of the match and both teams using their unlimited substitutions to the maximum of the amount of bodies they could fit on each bench. The draw is LA’s second against English competition in two years – they managed a draw with eventual champions Manchester City last summer before losing in penalty kicks – and LA fans have to be excited by the 64 minutes of action, without any visible signs of fatigue, seen by returning centerback Omar Gonzalez.

The Galaxy now face FC Dallas in regular season play on Saturday in Dallas. The team has already announced it will be without Beckham, as he attends to his Olympic duties, but should have Donovan back after he takes part in Wednesday’s all-star game in Philadelphia.

Jul 192012
l6100911 Homegrown Hero: Villarreal Rescues Galaxy

When David Beckham scored in the 81st minute of the LA Galaxy’s match with Vancouver Wednesday night, Whitecaps goalkeeper, and former Galaxy keeper, Joe Cannon couldn’t feel too bad being beaten by a slight deflection and an English star his same age, 37. But when his outstretched left hand couldn’t so much as get fingertips to a shot from a forward half his age, leveling the match in the 87th minute, that’s just not fair.

Vancouver goals by Gershon Koffie and Barry Robson once again highlighted LA’s fragile defense early in games just days after Kris Boyd had put the Timbers up 1-0 in LA’s previous match. But just as before in Portland, LA once again showed the resolve to turn a result their way, with homegrown talent Jose Villarreal was on the scene to punctuate his first real amount of playing time in MLS with a stunning equalizer.

Playing their third away match in a row, the Galaxy looked every bit a team that has been on the road the past week and a half. The team’s energy level appeared sapped and the same old problems popped up as the Whitecaps took a 2-0 lead thanks to the team’s inability to close down players with the ball.

Entering the match only four points back of the ‘Caps and down at the half with no shots on target, LA was in danger of letting an opportunity to make up serious ground on a team that had not so much as scored a goal against them in three previous matches. But with substitutions Juninho and the aforementioned Villarreal providing the spark, LA finally found some inroads throughout the late stages of the second half on Wednesday night.

Beckham started the comeback with his sixth goal of the campaign, setting a new personal best for goals in a season. Galaxy captain Landon Donovan was credited with an assist as he laid off perfect to Beckham in stride just outside the Vancouver penalty area. Taking a slight deflection off of Koffie just inside the area, Cannon could only watch as the shot sailed into his far corner.

Having found their opener and halved the match, LA pushed forward and looked a renewed team with just under 10 minutes to play. A series of set pieces off of Beckham’s boot created mad scrambles in front of the Vancouver net with LA just missing out on the decisive final touch.

Then, in the matches’ 87th minute, Villarreal received a pass from fellow sub Juninho with a yard of space outside the Whitecaps area. Cutting the ball back onto his preferred left foot, without hesitation, the young striker curled a well-weighted strike just inside Cannon’s far post for his first career goal.

Down 2-0 with ten minutes to play, the draw will surely feel like a win and keep the Galaxy within reach of the West’s top four teams. The Galaxy now head home to take on Chivas USA in the second installment of the SuperClasico at Home Depot Center on Saturday.

Galaxy Goals Galore in the Rose City

 Posted by on July 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm  Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS
Jul 162012
play g beckham11 576 Galaxy Goals Galore in the Rose City

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

In a league where parity is thrust upon teams by way of salary cap, your only saving grace is to have your stars play like stars. At Portland on Saturday, the LA Galaxy’s three designated players accounted for five goals and three assists as LA ran over the Timbers 5-3.

The Timbers started off strong with Kris Boyd scoring just 6 minutes into the contest. But four Galaxy goals in less than ten minutes, including two by David Beckham, were enough to see LA by the Timbers. Robbie Keane would finish the match with two goals of his own and Landon Donovan would net a penalty while also being credited with an assist for the 100th time in MLS regular season play.

“Giving up an early goal isn’t easy, but I thought as we got into the game in the first 15 minutes we could sense that we could create chances,” said Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena to reporters after the match. “We were moving the ball well and obviously Beckham’s first goal was big and we did quite well after that.”

Beckham’s goals bring his total to five on the season, tying a season high. The Englishman’s first strike, the equalizer in the 19th minute, was a vintage thunderbolt from the player’s Manchester United days.

“I got the ball from Keane, he won the ball back and laid it back to me. They stepped off of me and so I thought ‘why not,’” said Beckham following the match. “The last time I scored a goal like that was for Manchester United against Deportivo [La Caruna], it was very similar to that. I was happy with it, but I’m more happy with the team’s performance tonight because I think we showed our character. I think we showed that when we pass the ball around we can go through teams.”

The win is the Galaxy’s third against Portland this season and their second on the bounce since the last minute defeat to the Philadelphia Union on the Fourth of July. The Galaxy now face Vancouver midweek before heading home to take on Chivas USA in the second installment of the SuperClasico at Home Depot Center on Saturday.

Jul 022012
beckham scuffle MLSs Best End Galaxy Run at 3 in Cali Clasico
German Alegria/LA Galaxy

Goals from Landon Donovan and David Beckham were not enough as the LA Galaxy fell 4-3 to the San Jose Earthquakes in the Cali Clasico despite being up 3-1.

Forward Chris Wondolowski won it for the Earthquakes with a strike in the match’s 61st minute. The goal brought Wondolowski’s league-leading tally to 14 and nudged the Quakes past DC United for MLS’s top spot on 36 points.

Beckham opened LA’s scoring from a spectacular free kick after San Jose’s Steven Lenhart broke the deadlock in just the 7th minute of the match. Donovan’s goal in the 41st put the Galaxy up 3-1 and was the forwards fourth goal in three games, but it was not enough as the Galaxy fell for the first time in three matches.

The Galaxy will head home to take on the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday at the Home Depot Center. Beckham’s late yellow card will rule him out of the match on the 4th of July, and the Englishmen could face further repercussions following his behavior to end the match.

The Galaxy dropped one spot to sixth, two points behind Colorado, following the loss.

Jun 272012

What a difference the international break makes!

Before their three week mini-vacation due to the World Cup qualifiers, the LA Galaxy were limping through the first part of the MLS season. Owners of a 3-8-2 record relegating them to the bottom of the league’s Western Conference, we all had our theories as to why reigning champs’ season seemed DOA.

But returning from the break to a grueling week of three matches in seven days, to everyone’s surprise the Galaxy collected all nine points available, while moving up the table four spots and into playoff contention. And now, the talk isn’t so much what went wrong, but “what’s gotten into this club?”

After defeating the Portland Timbers 1-0, the Galaxy went on the road to face league-leading Real Salt Lake. Despite going down 2-0 in less than 25 minutes, LA managed a 3-2 comeback victory in one of MLS’s toughest places to play. And while the come-from-behind victory may have been the Galaxy’s must surprising result of their current 3-match winning streak, it was surely not their best.

soccer ball in grass thumb6261777 Four on the Floor: Galaxy Go for Four Straight Keeping It on the Carpet

The 3-0 win versus Vancouver was without a doubt the Galaxy’s best win to date on the scoresheet and aesthetically. Flying out of the gate, the Galaxy put the Whitecaps under constant pressure in midfield, found the feet of their two star forwards, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, playing to the strengths, while getting around the Whitecaps’ defense by overloading the flanks with a strong match from defender Sean Franklin. And of all these winning tactics, the key to each Galaxy attack on the night was the team’s resolve to play the ball along the floor, carpet, grass, or whatever you want to call it; LA’s commitment to playing the ball on the ground and shying away from the aerial game they so often reverted to early in the season is what made this team look so dominant on the night.

Too many times this season, we’ve seen a frustrated Galaxy team revert to finding the feet of David Beckham away from the midfield pressure and deep in defense, only to have the Englishman sending ball after ball over the top of the opposing defense in “route one” fashion. While no one can argue with Beckham’s ability to put a pass wherever he likes on the pitch, the desperation tactic was easy to defend and allowed opposing defenses to defend deeper and deeper while frustrating the usually behind Galaxy even further. But in the Vancouver match, we saw a fluid midfield with Beckham much higher up the pitch and rarely dropping to the right back spot to spray balls around the pitch.

No statistic better illustrates this point than the 84% passing rate the Galaxy ended the Vancouver match with. Teams focused on playing the ball to feet and on the ground are naturally going to have a higher success rate passing than those relying on long balls. In fact, the Galaxy’s pass rate was their best since their 3-1 over Portland in fifth match of the season. Furthering the point, LA had not passed at a rate above 80% in any of their other matches this year. Their only other 80% performance was in a match at home against a Theirry Henry-less Red Bulls, in which the away team snatched an early goal and defended deep the remaining 80 minutes of the match.

In that Red Bulls’ match, the Galaxy would fall 1-0 despite their 80% pass rate, and while it would appear judging by that stat the ground game failed LA, they also ended that match with an astounding 33 crosses from open play. Clearly, the aerial game was in full effect and resulting in little by way of goals. Maybe the loss of Omar Gonzalez really did affect more than the Galaxy back line with so few crosses resulting in goals, but consider this: in the matches leading up to the current 3-game wining streak LA averaged 16 crosses per game, averaging only 9 in their three straight wins. In those 3 wins, LA has averaged 2.33 goals per match and only 1.15 in the games prior.

With a trip to the table-topping San Jose Earthquakes on tap for this weekend and many predicting a Galaxy resurgence, it would appear the Galaxy’s new found style of play, simple and on the floor, is the key to not only the team’s attack but also their ability to play the possession-based style we’d come so accustomed to seeing in their championship run. This weekend, if LA can keep their slick passing game and shy away from bogging down the match with Beckham long balls, the team will be successful and take a lot of pressure off a still fragile centerback pairing. 

To keep the train rolling, it’ll have to be “four on the floor” for LA.

Jun 242012

After playing 180 minutes in just three days, and facing another 90 minutes to complete a swing of three matches in seven days, the LA Galaxy decided to make quick work of the Vancouver Whitecaps with an aggressive assault on the Vancouver goal in the first 45 minutes of Saturday’s match. Three goals in a less than 30 minute span, including strikes by Mike Magee, Landon Donovan and the recently returned Robbie Keane, were all the Galaxy would need in their 3-0 victory over the visiting Whitecaps. The win caps an undefeated week for the team, in which they took all nine points available and rose four places in the Western Conference standings.

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made two changes from the side that yielded the first two victories of the week, bringing in winger Hector Jimenez, recently returned from suspension, for Bryan Jordan and Keane, returning from Ireland’s ouster in the European Championships, for Marcelo Sarvas. Keane’s return, and partnership with Donovan to start the match, also signaled a change back to Arena’s preferred formation of 4-4-2.

Putting Vancouver on the back foot to start the match, LA looked to fancy the match from the get-go. The Donovan-Keane partnership buzzed around the Whitecap back four and the Galaxy pressured the ‘Caps into conceding three corners in the match’s first 15 minutes.

As so often happens, the third time was a charm for the Galaxy as David Beckham’s corner to the back of the back was headed towards goal by Juninho. Hitting a clump of bodies in the box, the ball fell to Donovan and his shot was narrowly kept out by Whitecap goalkeeper Joe Cannon. But unable to deny giving up a rebound, Cannon’s save landed at the feet of Magee, who easily finished from two yards out in the 16th minute.

“A lot happened, I think Beckham sent it a pretty good ball, if my memory serves me correct I think Juninho hit it and I was just kind of being lazy at the back post and was able to get a nice little tap in,” recalled Magee after the match.

Donovan almost made it two just moments later when he caught Whitecap defender Jay DeMerit in possession and streaked towards Cannon 1v1. His angled shot went well wide though.

Partnering Donovan and inserted straight into the line-up after his return from international duty, Keane also looked lively in the Galaxy attack to start the match. Running with conviction at defenders to start the match, Keane carved out shot after shot to start the match but was unable to break through until the half hour mark.

Picking up a pass just inside the Whitecaps box, Keane dinked his way past three defenders before finding his bearings and slotting underneath Cannon from about six yards out. To celebrate, Keane raced straight to the Galaxy bench and held aloft an LA Galaxy jersey with “RIP James Nolan” on the back. The shirt and celebration were in tribute to the Irish fan that was found dead after attending Ireland’s final Euro2012 match against Italy.

article 2163909 13C247CC000005DC 203 468x336 Stunning First 45 Sees Galaxy Past Whitecaps
(Getty Images)

“I called [Nolan's] father today to send my condolences, send my thoughts to him and his family,” said Keane of his celebration at halftime. “Irish people are very close and stick to each other through good times and bad times. He was a big soccer fan and it was a shame, it was just a bit of respect really. I may give the shirt to his father, if he wants it.”

Having had a hand in both goals, Donovan again came close to a tally of his own when just one minute after Keane’s goal his strike found the outside of the right post. And after DeMerit handled a Keane shot in the Vancouver box, Donovan finally got his name on the score sheet as his penalty wrong-wayed Cannon in the 41st minute.

Three goals to the good before halftime, the Galaxy wouldn’t need anymore help, as the team finished off the match with their second shutout of the season, and second in three matches.

“We could have gotten more goals, but I don’t want to be greedy,” said Arena of his team and their performance after the match. “At this point, I think we are slowly becoming a good team. And, I think that inside our locker room we understand what it takes to become a good team. It was an important week for us.”

Having now won three in a row for the first time this season, it would appear the Galaxy have finally turned a corner from their horrendous start to the season. They will next take on the table-topping San Jose Earthquakes in San Jose and hope to avenge a 3-2 come-from-behind defeat to the Quakes from last month.
Jun 212012
e3a5cf90ab021fe5768cc671ba607733 getty 146611835 Donovan and Magee Punish RSL in Comeback Win
Landon Donovan imposes his will on RSL (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Two glaring mistakes by the Real Salt Lake defense and goals by Landon Donovan and Mike Magee brought the LA Galaxy back from a 2-0 deficit Wednesday night at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. Donovan completed the comeback and his brace in the 68th minute giving the Galaxy back-to-back wins for only the second time this season.

Real Salt Lake opened the scoring with Kyle Beckerman’s strike nine minutes in, and doubled their lead just 25 minutes into the match by way of forward Alvaro Saborio’s seventh goal of the season. The RSL lead was halved just five minutes later though when Donovan picked up a slack back pass from the RSL defense and rounded goalkeeper Nick Rimando to finish from a tight angle with his left foot in the 29th minute of play. 

A second RSL miscue in the 50th minute brought the match level, with Magee the beneficiary this time. The Galaxy midfielder coolly slotted home his left-footed shot after catching RSL defender Jamison Olave in possession and working a quick one-two with Donovan.

Finishing out the Galaxy comeback, Magee would this time set up his captain as his well-weighted diagonal left Donovan with only the onrushing Rimando to beat. Easily touching past the ‘keeper just outside the 18-yard box, Donovan’s shot into a wide-open net in the match’s 68th minute gave LA their second win on the bounce and their first victory when trailing at halftime this season.

The Galaxy now head home to complete their third match in a week’s time against the Vancouver Whitecaps at the Home Depot Center on Saturday. With six points already for the week, LA is now just two points back of Colorado for the final playoff spot in the conference.

Posted by: Vincent La Rosa, GFT/LA Galaxy writer

Jun 202012
RSL LA DL Out of the Cellar and Into the Fire: Galaxy Travel to Leagues Best

Throughout the Galaxy’s recent 7-match streak without a win, the team spent a considerable amount of time residing in the bottom spot of MLS’ Western Conference. But with their win Sunday, and subsequently the team’s first shutout of the season, LA managed to catapult themselves up the table a full two spots with their recently acquired three points.

And although it has only been three days since Sunday’s victory, the way in which the Galaxy won – shutting out their opponent with a staunch defense while nipping a timely goal – has changed the questions centering around the Galaxy from “what happened to last year’s champion” to “are we witnessing the return to last year’s championship ways?”

But just as the talk of an MLS “super team” surrounding the Galaxy to start the season may have been premature, the mention of a return to form will have to wait as LA travel to the league’s current best team on Wednesday, Real Salt Lake.

Having met in team’s first match of the season, RSL ran out of the Home Depot Center 3-1 winners, in turn dealing LA their first lost of the season in their very first match, while breaking a year-long undefeated streak LA had enjoyed at home up to that point. With LA having knocked Jason Kreis’ men out of the playoffs on their way to last year’s title, the “no loved lost” moniker is aptly affixed to a match-up that may not be marquee as far as MLS television markets go but has always produced some of the league’s best play on the field.

The RSL game will be LA’s second in just three days and 1 of 3 matches over the course of a week after having three weeks off due to the international break. Bruce Arena will have to decide how to rotate his selection and get rest for a team that had 11 players unavailable due to injury, suspension and national team duty last match.

With RSL’s strong midfield, look for the Galaxy to likely be unchanged as the line of Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho in midfield is without a doubt the team’s most talented combination, and after their performance on Sunday likely worth another run out. Building on their first shut out of the season would be a big step for this team, and as the road team, don’t be surprised to see Arena stick with the 4-1-4-1 tactics in order to coax another strong defensive performance from his team.

Kickoff is 6 pm local time from the Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah.

Posted by: Vincent La Rosa, GFT/LA Galaxy writer