Archive | July, 2013

Villarreal, Zardes spark Galaxy past Whitecaps

Posted on 21 July 2013 by iyeo

On the outside looking in as far the playoff picture going into Saturday night’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Los Angeles Galaxy looked to its youth to carry the night.

With striker Robbie Keane and midfielder Robbie Rogers scratched from the lineup, the Galaxy turned to two players that came out of their youth academies. Strikers Jose Villarreal and Gyasi Zardes turned in big time performances on Saturday night, as Villarreal scored the equalizer and Zardes the game winner in LA’s 2-1 win at the StubHub Center.

“I thought the team played pretty solid throughout the night,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “We’re not exactly where we need to be. I’m happy we could hang on tonight and that’s good for the players’ confidence.”

The Galaxy’s win was big, as they vaulted from sixth place in the Western Conference all the way to third in the conference. The Galaxy also find themselves just four points back of Real Salt Lake for first place. More importantly, it, at least for this week, shook off its nasty habit of conceding goals late in the match, something that had befuddled the team in past matches this season.

“You heard a lot of communication, lots of finger-pointing to get guys in position and making sure guys weren’t running out of position,” Galaxy Center Back AJ DeLaGarza said. “We’ve done well over the last month or so, it just those last waning moments that we need to correct.”

Trailing 1-0 well into the first half, the Galaxy (10-8-3, 33 points) pressed and eventually got the equalizer in the 29th minute, albeit with a little bit of controversy attached to it. Juninho sent a free kick inside the 18-yard box, Center Back Omar Gonzalez headed a ball towards goal, Zardes leaped for a header, the ball instead went into the six-yard box and Villarreal tapped a ball past keeper Brandon Knighton into the back net. The goal was at first waived off, as the officials initially ruled that Zardes’ header attempt had made contact with the ball, thus making Villarreal offside. Referee Chris Penso, however consulted with linesman Jermey Hanson on the play, and it was determined that Zardes did mot make contact with the ball prior to Villarreal’s chance, thus the goal stood, much to the objection of the Whitecaps.

“I honestly thought I wasn’t offside,” Villarreal said. “So I was, like, ‘OK, offside, just play on.’ Then I saw the center ref go to the linesman, then there was just like a big controversial play … just happy we got the goal.”

Zardes then put the Galaxy ahead with a spectacular goal in the 57th minute. Zardes chased a long ball sent by Left Back Todd Dunivant all the way to the endline. Vancouver defender Brad Rusin was right behind Zardes, but the striker evaded him with a nifty move, as he flicked a ball past Rusin, forcing him to turn and eventually lose his balance and Zardes finished the highlight play in grand fashion, as he fired the point-blank shot past Knighton into the back net.

“I just tried to be composed when I was in the box,” Zardes said. “I tried to juke him (Rusin) and he slipped, and just work on my technique like my coaches tell me. Just struck the ball and it went in.”

The Whitecaps (9-6-5, 32 points) struck in the 19th minute. Defender Lee Young-Pyo sent a ball long towards striker Kenny Miller, who touched a ball forward and striker Camilo de Silva Sanvezzo timed his run perfectly. Camilo sprinted for the penalty area unmarked, then sent his shot past Galaxy keeper Carlo Cudicini at the far post area to put Vancouver in front.

Vancouver didn’t get many more shots at goal until late in the second half when it was chasing the match. Striker Kekuta Manneh pounced on a poorly played LA ball in the 73rd minute and sprinted for a counterattack. Manneh played a ball perfectly for Miller inside the 18-yard box, but Miller’s chance was turned back by Cudicini. The Galaxy got one more big defensive play in the 86th minute, and it came from DeLaGarza, as Manneh found an overlapping Jordan Harvey in the box, but DeLaGarza’s sliding challenge dispossessed Harvey and the ball was eventually cleared out of the box.

“We were a little more clever tonight,” Dunivant said. “We were a little more smarter in killing off the game and really limiting their chances and the last four matches went by a lot quicker.”

The Galaxy’s next match will be at Colorado against the Rapids on Saturday while Vancouver will host the Philadelphia Union, also on Saturday.

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Chivas USA defies the odds to defeat Toronto FC

Posted on 18 July 2013 by iyeo

A pair of new editions to Chivas USA threatened to be rendered moot by a debatable decision on Wednesday night.

Chivas USA had added striker Erick “El Cubo” Torres from parent club C.D. Chivas Guadalajara as well as former United States National Team Captain, defender Carlos Bocanegra at the start of the Summer transfer window, and the two players were in the Goats’ starting lineup for the first time against Toronto FC at the StubHub Center.

However, the same sort of bad luck that had befuddled Chivas USA for the last 14 matches reared its ugly head match during the first half, as midfielder Eric Avila was red-carded rather harshly for a hard challenge on Darel Russell. This time however, Chivas USA persisted through the man disadvantage, and a late second half goal from Torres enabled the Goats to get its first win since March 30 with a 1-0 decision.

“Today is a special day for me,” Chivas USA head coach Jose Luis Real said. “I don’t know how many games we had without a win, but all the players are happy because with this result all the players will have a better (sense) of security and be much better mentally. The most important thing in this game was the victory.”

Toronto FC found itself in a great position to get the three points in the 25th minute. Chivas’ Avila and Toronto’s Russell eyed a ball played back by TFC’s Ashtone Morgan on the left side of the field. Avila slid to better his chances of winning the ball while Russell was in the process of sliding. Unfortunately for Avila, his studs were showing up at the time of the challenge and his attempt to pull back were umsuccessful, and the end result was Avila bringing down Russell rather harshly. Still, Avila and his teammates were shocked to see referee Sorin Stoica pull out a red card, ending Avila’s night prematurely.

“I need to watch the video because I’m not sure about the intention of Avila,” Real said of the red card. “We are losing one of the most important players for Chivas (for the next match). To play without Avila is not easy. We had to change our idea in the game (after his expulsion).”

TFC had several chances to open the scoring following the red card, but could not capitalize on either of them. Striker Robert Earnshaw led a TFC attack on goal in the 32nd minute. Earnshaw played a ball forward into the 18-yard box to Midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who then crossed a ball into the six-yard box for striker Jeremy Brockie, who slid and got a touch on the ball, but just missed the far post.

Toronto had another chance early in the second half. Osorio played a ball forward to Jeremy Brockie in the box, Brockie then sent a ball towards the six, Russell cut in between Chivas defenders Mario de Luna and Walter Vilchez and one-timed a ball towards goal, but was denied by Civas Keeper Dan Kennedy. Compounding matters for Toronto, Russell slid harshly into Kennedy while attempting the shot and Stoica whistled the foul against Russell. Toronto had another chance in the 76th minute, but a long chance by Osorio was parried away by Kennedy just befor Brockie could get to the ball.

“There was a big difference from the last games because Toronto, for about 60 minutes or more, had one more player and Chivas had to play defense,” Real said “Bocanegra is a superstar for me, ‘Cubo’ (Torres) was playing against two or three opponents the whole game and scored the goal.”

Despite being down a man, Chivas did have some opportunities of their own. Bowen had the ball on TFC’s right side in the 59th minute, the winger raced past Morgan, then crossed a ball into the penalty area, Torres got a couple of touches on the ball, then fired on goal, but the shott was parried back by keeper Joe Bendik.

After all that, it was Chivas that pushed ahead in the 79th minute. Bowen played a ball to Torres on the right side, the striker cut inside, dribbled to the top of the 18-yard box and fired a shot on goal that deflected off Center Back Steve Caldwell, but kept going forward and eventually crossed the goal line into the back net to put the Goats in front. Toronto tried desperately to at least salvage a draw in the match, and thought they should’ve had a penalty in stoppage time, as Osorio tracked down a deflected ball in the box, made his way towards the six and was brought down by de Luna. TFC appealed passionately for a penalty, but had to settle for a corner, which Toronto could not make use of despite sending its keeper forward, and Chivas killed off the rest of the match.

“Soccer is a game of mistakes and it was important for me to recover from that earlier miss,” Torres said. “Thankfully another opportunity presented itself and I needed a bit of fortune to score.”

Chivas will have 11 days of before its next match, will be against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field on July 28, while Toronto FC will try once again to right the ship, though that won’t be easy, as they host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

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Galaxy shuts down FC Dallas

Posted on 08 July 2013 by iyeo

The Los Angeles Galaxy improved its performance from its Fourth of July showing on Sunday night, though the end result was still the same; a win.

Only two days removed from getting two breaks that enabled them to rally from a one-goal deficit to defeat the Columbus Crew, the Galaxy put in a much improved effort against FC Dallas. LA got goals from midfielders Marcelo Sarvas and Hector Jimenez and the Galaxy continued its climb up the Western Conference standings with a 2-0 win over the Hoops at the StubHub Center.

“It was close. Not quite there, but tonight was one of our better games on the year,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of LA’s performance on Sunday night. “I thought we played very well at both ends of the field. Our passing was much improved, our movement off the ball was very good. We again created chances, finished a couple tonight, could have finished even more. Rock-solid defending against a team that’s outstanding [on attack].”

The win moves LA Back into fourth place in the Western Conference with an 8-7-3 record and 27 points. In fact, the Galaxy are just four points back of league leader Real Salt Lake in the Supporters Shield race.

The Galaxy finally achieved the breakthrough goal in the 65th minute. Keane had the ball on the left end just outside the penalty area. The Irishman turned Keel once before floating a ball into the six-yard box and the slashing run by Sarvas was perfect, as he swooped in and headed the ball past FCD keeper Raul Fernandez. The second goal came in the 81st minute, as Robbie Rogers crossed a ball into the 18 -yard box to midfielder Hector Jimenez, who them blasted a shot past Fernandez into the back net.

“I think tonight was a real good win for our team, and this week was obviously a good week, so hopefully we can continue to get better,” Arena said. “We’re starting now to have close to our first group together, which has been close to impossible all year, so I think we’re beginning to see signs of becoming a better team.”

As it did on Independence Day against the Crew, the Galaxy dictated the pace of the match. LA got its first opportunity five minutes in. Jimenez raced against Left Back Jair Benitez for a long ball, Jimenez won the battle for the ball and took it into the FCD box and played a ball back to striker Gyasi Zardes. Zardes brought the ball down, then fired on target, but the shot was blocked by Center Back Stephen Keel. Galaxy right back Sean Franklin got to the loose ball, left it for Sarvas, but his shot was deflected out of play.

LA continued to create chances in the first half. Midfielder Robbie Rogers had a chance in the 16th minute when his chance was saved by Fernandez, but the keeper spilled it back into play, Jimenez charged in for a potential rebound attempt, but Center Back Matt Hedges cleared the ball out just before Jimenez could get to it. Rogers for sure thought he had a goal in the 37th minute when he came into the 18-yard box unmarked for a chance, but his header on goal was deflected at the last minute. Rogers had one more chance in the 49th minute, but his chance on a rebound attempt was deflected by Hernandez, then cleared at the line.

“I thought we kind of learned our lesson from the past few games,” Rogers said. “I thought we really ended this game really well, and we kept the ball and didn’t allow them to have too many chances. It was a sign of growth for us, definitely.”

The Galaxy will get six days off to prepare for its next match against the Portland Timbers on Saturday night while FC Dallas prepares for Real Salt Lake.

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Galaxy Rally to defeat Crew

Posted on 05 July 2013 by iyeo

Post-game fireworks were in store following the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Independence Day matchup against the Columbus Crew.

The Galaxy though supplied the fireworks during the match on the pitch. LA outshot the Crew 23-8 and had 59.3 percent of the possession on the night. In the end however, the Galaxy needed a few breaks to come out with the three points. Two penalties by Robbie Keane in the final five minutes canceled out Bernardo Amor’s header and the Galaxy snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a 2-1 win over the Crew.

“We’ve been on the other side of those games a number of times this year,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “At this point of the season, we should have 11 or 12 victories, and we’ve shot ourselves in the foot a number of times, so we’ve got to battle and keep moving forward and try to move up the ladder in a very competitive conference.”

The Galaxy’s come-from behind win was a reversal of fortunes of sorts for LA, as they still a tad sour over last Saturday’s 3-2 loss to San Jose in which the Earthquakes electrified its home fans with two goals in stoppage time to steal the win. This time on Thursday, it was the Galaxy who provided the late game drama.

“I think that football gives and football takes away,” Galaxy Goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini said. “We lost a crazy game on Saturday, and we won one in the same way today. Although today was really deserved. I mean, we created so many chances, and, unfortunately, we make it a bit difficult for ourselves.”

Despite dominating possession and creating tons of chances throughout the night, it was the Crew who edged ahead in the 78th minute. A free kick by Fedderico Higuain went into the 18-yard box, midfielder Bernardo Amor headed the ball high, but towards goal, and it turned out to be in almost the perfect spot, as it snuck in over Cudicini at the upper right corner.

Columbus looked to kill off the rest of the match, but the breaks started going LA’s way, starting in the 85th minute. Keane played a ball to Marcelo Sarvas, who touched it to a cutting Jose Villarreal. The striker, who had entered as a substitute back in the 61st minute, got a touch on the ball before he was tripped up by keeper Andy Gruenebaum and referee Sorin Stoica whistled for the pepnalty spot. A minute after the foul,was committed, Keane buried the penalty shot, as he went right while Gruenebaum guessed left.

“Andy said he got a hand on the first one,” Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said.

The Galaxy were awarded the penalty spot one more time, this time coming just as the three minutes of stoppage time was beginning. Midfielder Colin Clark, who had also entered as a substitute, crossed a ball into the penalty area, Keane tracked down the cross, Anor came in for a last-minute defense and ended up bumping Keane and Stoica again awarded the penalty to the Galaxy.

“Bernardo was jumping for the ball. He wasn’t trying to push the guy,” Warzycha said. “It was shoulder-to-shoulder. Too bad they both happened at the end of the game.”

Gruenebaum did guess correctly on Keane’s penalty, but Keane still beat him to the same spot to put the Galaxy ahead.

However, just as fast as the Galaxy were about to get the win, Columbus acted fast and nearly stole the point at the death. Higuain played a ball into the 18, the ball was headed to midfielder Kevan George, who touched a ball past Cudicini, but the chance instead dribbled wide left.

“Sitting in this locker room after a defeat, I think we would have been completely shattered, to be honest with you,” Keane said. “Our heads would have been down. But because you do win the game, it’s amazing how confidence can get you through a few more games.”

The Galaxy will look to carry that confidence into Sunday’s forthcoming match against FC Dallas while the Crew will look to rebound against the Portland Timbers, also on Sunday.

 

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Oba Martins Brace Beats DC United

Posted on 04 July 2013 by Kyle Alm

After a disappointing loss to RSL and a week off Sounders were more than ready for DC United, a cellar dwellar in MLS 2013, when they came to Seattle on the eve of Independence Day.

DC United were without Dwayne DeRosario, who was out with a hip flexor strain, and not available. DeRo has had notable success against Sounders, both with Toronto FC & DC United, and his absence ensures that Chris Pontius would receive the bulk of attention from the Sounders defense.

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Seattle and DC felt each other out to start the match, both teams seemed collected and settled with the ball and kept possession with what the defense allowed them. Seattle were able to keep their possession in a more dangerous area with their forward tandem and wingers.

Brad Evans came very close to opening the scoring for Seattle Sounders in the 19th minute on a header that Joe Willis was just able to push away. It would be Evans who created the goal for Obafemi Martins with a cleverly placed through ball that was an easy finish for goal followed by a flip for the Nigerian.

By the time Obafemi Martins had scored the crowd of 38,180 had nearly all taken their seats after they had received a thorough security screening that had added a metal detecting wand and later ceased the enhanced security after the match and social media flare up were underway.

The second half was not that eventful: a really strange offside call on Obafemi Martins, a tackle by Mauro Rosales using his face, nice combo between Eddie Johnson & Martins that just quite wasn’t, and eventually Oba Martins took a ball and forced his way passed three DC United defenders for his second goal of the night in the 91st minute.

“It was one of the games you have to grind out” Sigi Schmid mused after the match. It certainly had that feel. It was not inspired play from either side, although DC United had a 7% disadvantage in possession, they still outshot Sounders, but were never able to strike well enough to beat Gspurning.

DC United were able to create a couple of opportunities that forced Michael Gspurning into a couple of saves, 4 total, one from distance by Chris Pontius that was clearly the best of the bunch (and the runner-up) but still not good enough to score. Sounders were good against a bad team tonight, not dominating, just good. DC United have not had a good season, but they don’t seem like a bad team, just not good enough and probably a little unlucky on the night and to be where they are in the standings. Ben Olsen may be feeling some pressure for his job with the rest of the table sitting on him, although it doesn’t seem like he has the talent or the luck for his squad to climb out of the cellar.

For Sounders this match puts a bad loss behind them and gets the focus back on winning. The only concern is that DC United is a team that should be beaten, and Sounders weren’t more in control of the match. One mistake to allow a goal and 1-1 against DC United at home doesn’t sound so good and then hit the road on a short break to play Vancouver Whitecaps, a team on form, and very much a competitive rival in the MLS Western Conference and Cascadia cup.

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