Los Angeles Soccer: Lee Nguyen
CARSON -- The best news the Galaxy could hope for cropped up Sunday afternoon on Twitter.
“Great news!!!” defender Omar Gonzalez tweeted. “Rehab has been going so well that they moved up my return date: May 1st! #omarscomin' #ballin'”
Remember what day it is.
The Galaxy wishes Gonzalez could come back, good as new, a month from now, but it will likely be late summer at the soonest that the big center back, rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament, again steps onto the field.
Until then, who knows what happens. Gonzalez's tweet was a cruel joke: L.A. is in crisis without Major League Soccer's reigning Defender of the Year, as Saturday night's 3-1 loss to the New England Revolution so graphically illustrated.
The Galaxy won the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup titles last year for several reasons, but the biggest was how well they defended all over the field. They've shown little ability to do so without Gonzalez, bleeding goals during preseason and conceding 11 already in five competitive matches. L.A. needed 11 games to surrender 11 last year, and four of those came in the debacle at Real Salt Lake.
“What's different is that we're not scoring and we're not keeping the ball out of our nets,” said center back A.J. DeLaGarza, whose failure to deal with Kelyn Rowe on New England's 10th-minute opener started the Galaxy toward their third loss in four Home Depot Center matches this year. “On both sides of the ball, we’re not clicking. They had three crosses and they had three goals, so that’s unacceptable and is something that we’ve been working on in practice over the last two weeks, 'cause we know we haven’t done well in the first 3-4 games. But today, it didn’t pay off.”
The Galaxy was utterly, curiously listless against the Revs, showing none of the spirit and little of the advertised advances they've made in their game in the two weeks since their lone victory in five games, over D.C. United. The interim was supposed to correct the problems exploited by Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal and by Real Salt Lake in the MLS opener.
“Two weeks off, 10 days off, six weeks -- it doesn't really matter,” said forward Robbie Keane, the Galaxy's captain in Landon Donovan's absence (because of a quadriceps strain). “Regardless of two weeks. If you have two weeks off or three days off or two days off, we shouldn't be conceding goals the way we've been conceding them. We have to rectify that, and we have to rectify that very, very quickly, because the goals we've been conceding are very, very similar to previous games.”
Diaz Pizarro (Chino Hills/Ayala HS) was the Big West Conference's Co-Offensive Player of the Year last fall after scoring nine goals for the Highlanders, who went 9-6-4 with two victories over national powerhouse UC Santa Barbara and another over conference titlist UC Irvine, a top 10 team.
Diaz Pizarro, 21, was considered one of the top forwards on the West Coast, but he was not invited to MLS's pre-draft combine in Florida. The Quakes have had success with under-valued players from Southern California, last year signing Loyola Marymount star Rafael Baca (Lawndale/Animo Leadership HS).
“We liked what we saw from Cesar in our [club] combine and during the preseason,” Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop told his team's website. “He was a quality goalscorer in college from a competitive conference, and we would like to see him develop into the same thing in our league. He’s tall, good on the ball and a hard worker, and we’re happy to have him in San Jose.”
In other MLS news:
The Galaxy continues to work on its roster, working on new deals with Sean Franklin, Juninho and a few others while awaiting decisions by, at the least, David Beckham and Chris Birchall.
Might they also need to find a replacement for Omar Gonzalez?
Major League Soccer's Defender of the Year is being pursued by Mexico City giant Club America, ESPN Deportes' Fernando Schwartz posted to his Twitter account.
The gist of Schwartz's text: The Aguilas aren't after New York Red Bulls defender/midfielder Rafa Marquez, the Mexican national team captain, but rather the young Galaxy star.
Gonzalez, 23, a 6-foot-5 Texan, had a tremendous impact for the Galaxy in his third Major League Soccer campaign, anchoring their backline as the team tied the league mark with 17 shutouts during the regular season, three in the CONCACAF Champions League and two more in the MLS Cup playoffs.
He was MLS's Rookie of the Year in 2009 and an MLS Best XI selection and Defender of the Year finalist in 2010.
The Galaxy have a new midfielder, is he's to be believed.
Marcelo Sarvas, whom the Galaxy battled twice this year in CONCACAF Champions League play, has signed a two-year contract with two option years, his agent told Costa Rican sports website Al Pie del Deporte.
Sarvas, who plays for reigning Costa Rican champion Alajuelense, last week told Costa Rican daily La Nacion that he was weighing a two-year deal from the Galaxy against a three-year offer to stay at Alajuela and that he was “postponing [a decision] as long as possible because the truth is that I don't know what decision to make. The economics [of the Galaxy offer] is very good.”
A Galaxy spokesman said the club, as is its policy in such matters, would have no comment.
Sarvas, 30, is from Sao Paulo, began his pro career with Corinthians and played for clubs in Sweden and Poland before signing with Alajuela last January. He is preparing for Liga's Invierno (fall) title series against Herediano, although he is suspended for Sunday's first leg.
The Galaxy, which this season won the MLS Cup/Supporters' Shield double in Major League Soccer and advanced to next year's Champions League knockout stage, arrived home Wednesday morning from a 12-day, three-game postseason tour to Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia.
The players will be off, national team considerations aside, until probably the third week of January, but head coach/general manager Bruce Arena and his staff has pressing work to do determining his roster for next season.
The pivotal decision is David Beckham's, and everything the Galaxy must accomplish this offseason will be determined by his choice. The English superstar, who five-year contract ends at the close of December, could re-sign with the Galaxy, accept Paris Saint-Germain's millions or, far less likely, return home to England.