Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Galaxy ready after beating UCLA
By Scott French
The Galaxy wrapped up preseason Wednesday with another victory, their sixth in 10 matches, and declared themselves ready -- or as ready as they can be -- for the start of the Major League Soccer season, which arrives Tuesday night in Seattle.
Juninho and Landon Donovan scored for L.A. in a 2-1 triumph over UCLA on the club's Home Depot Center training fields southeast of the main stadium. Coach Bruce Arena began with what likely will be his starting XI against the Sounders, with every starter getting at least 50 minutes and most 70 or more.
The only first-choice players missing were Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who suffered a "knock," Arena said, in last week's game against Club Tijuana in San Diego and is "day-to-day," and defender Gregg Berhalter, who sustained a knee injury during the team's Arizona trip and says he's probably three weeks from being ready.
Josh Saunders, the No. 2 keeper, was in the nets; Brazilian backliner Leonardo, who started six preseason games and went the full 90 minutes in his last two, teamed with Omar Gonzalez in central defense. The outside backs (Sean Franklin on the right, Todd Dunivant on the left) and midfield (from right, David Beckham, Juninho, Chris Birchall and Donovan) are holdovers from last year, with newcomers Juan Pablo Angel and Chad Barrett up top.
That lineup put on an impressive first-half performance, subpar finishing aside, pinning the Bruins -- an NCAA title favorite, for sure, next fall -- deep in their end for most of the half.
"It was good," said Angel, who scored only one goal -- in the first game, a 7-1 rout of Loyola Marymount -- during preseason. "The majority of players played more than 60, 65 minutes, which is important. The first half I think we played well. We were well-organized, created chances, and the second half we lost the rhythm a little bit."
Arena was happiest with how the game helped his team's fitness, especially playing in temperatures at or near 80, and that UCLA "pushed us physically, and that's what we wanted."
Are the Galaxy ready for Seattle?
"We're going to have to be," said Dunivant, who limped off in the 61st minute after taking a charley horse in a collision with Bruins sophomore Matt Wiet -- he declared himself fine afterward. "I think all the team at this point in the season are kind of up in the air, but we have a veteran team, and we've had a good preseason. We have a big game against Seattle, so whether we're ready of not, we really don't have a choice."
THE GAME: Juninho, as 22-year-old Brazilian midfielder Vitor Gomes Pereira Junior is known, capped a splendid preseason with a fine goal, from outside the box to inside the left post, to give the Galaxy a 22nd-minute lead. Donovan scored from interplay with Angel and Barrett five minutes into the second half.
Angel and Barrett had several chances they didn't put away, although Angel came close to a hat trick. He hit the crossbar with a header and the outside of the left post with a shot, and bounced another header just over the bar.
"If we can be critical of anything on our part today, certainly our finishing could have been better," Arena said. "We had a chance to have four or five goals today, we ended up with two."
BRUINS BITS: Freshman forward Victor Chavez (Fontana/A.B. Miller HS), a U.S. under-17 national team veteran who turned down pro offers to attend UCLA, scored a superb goal for the Bruins in the 55th minute. At the heart of UCLA's attack was freshman All-American midfielder Kellyn Rowe, whose return to school following his freshman season wasn't certain. Coach Jorge Salcedo, a former Galaxy midfielder, said it looked as if Rowe would return for his sophomore season rather than go pro.
Three UCLA alums played for the Galaxy: Barrett, Frankie Hejduk and Michael Stephens.
PRESEASON NUMBERS: Nobody played in all 10 games, but five players -- Hejduk, Stephens, Miguel Lopez, A.J. DeLaGarza and Paolo Cardozo -- played in nine. Donovan, Juninho and Angel led the team with seven starts. ... Top scorers, with three goals each, were Donovan, Birchall, Adam Cristman and Mike Magee. ... L.A. went 6-1-3 in all games and 2-1-2 against MLS opposition.
GALAXY LINEUP: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin (Frankie Hejduk, 71), Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant (A.J. DeLaGarza, 61); David Beckham, Juninho (Michael Stephens, 77), Chris Birchall, Landon Donovan (Mike Magee, 51); Chad Barrett (Miguel Lopez, 63), Juan Pablo Angel (Paolo Cardozo, 80).
GALAXY 2011 PRESEASON (6-1-3)
Feb. 4 vs. Loyola Marymount at HDC: W 7-1 (goals by Birchall 2, Angel, Berhalter, Juninho, Kirovski, Cardozo)
Feb. 8 vs. Portland Timbers at HDC: T 1-1 (Cardozo)
Feb. 10 vs. San Jose Earthquakes at HDC: T 1-1 (Magee)
Feb. 16 vs. Colorado Rapids at Tempe, Ariz.: L 2-4 (Donovan, Cristman)
Feb. 18 vs. U.S. U-18s at Tempe, Ariz. (50 mins.): W 1-0 (Magee)
Feb. 21 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at Tempe, Ariz.: W 2-0 (Birchall, Angel)
Feb. 22 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at Tempe, Ariz.: W 2-0 (Cristman, Barrett)
March 2 vs. Club Tijuana at San Diego: T 2-2 (Gonzalez, Donovan), Tijuana wins on penalties, 4-3
March 4 vs. Canada U-23 at HDC: W 4-0 (Lopez, Magee, Kirovski, Cristman)
March 9 vs. UCLA at HDC: W 2-1 (Juninho, Donovan)