Los Angeles Soccer: Sebastian Velasquez

GALAXY: Villarreal paces Reserve win

June, 12, 2012
6/12/12
7:21
PM PT
The Galaxy returns to Major League Soccer action this weekend riding a little wave of success.

Not in the games that count -- they've got eight games in all, seven of them in league, without a victory -- but Tuesday's 3-1 triumph in Vancouver takes L.A. out of the league's minibreak with successive MLS Reserve League victories.

Jose Villarreal netted two goals in his first start of the year and Jack McBean came off the bench to nod home a late winner as the Galaxy (3-1-1) climbed atop the Western Division standings at the University of British Columbia.

Things aren't going so well in MLS proper: L.A. is last in the West and 17th of 19 clubs overall with a 3-8-2 mark heading into Sunday afternoon's clash with Portland at Home Depot Center. Do Reserve League victories translate to the real deal? Subtly but surely.

“It's that feeling,” goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who went the full 90 after retuning from a month in MLS's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program for a 2-1 win 10 days ago at Portland, noted last week. “The guys that were in the locker room after the [reserve games] remember that feeling of winning. That's contagious. Those guys know what it's like to win again, and, hopefully, we can push that into our first team.”

Trialist Andy Iro, the former UC Santa Barbara All-American who played for Columbus and Toronto FC, went 90 minutes in central defense. Rookie Rafael Garcia, a central midfielder, got a look at right back. And assistant coach Curt Onalfo, who guides the reserve team, gave Galaxy Academy players Oscar Sorto and Mario Rodriguez spots in the starting XI.

Villarreal, a Home Grown Player from Inglewood, scored his first two goals since signing in December, finishing a Michael Stephens feed two minutes into the second half and adding an insurance goal in second-half stoppage from a long clearance by Saunders.

(Read full post)

GALAXY: Saunders plays, Leonardo hurt

June, 2, 2012
6/02/12
11:14
PM PT
Josh Saunders made his return to action, Leonardo departed with an injury and the Galaxy finally held onto a lead, winning for the first time since late April in a most noteworthy MLS Reserve League clash.

Two first-half free kicks were put away by Leonardo and Chad Barrett as the Galaxy claimed a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers to vault from fifth to second place in the West Division standings with a 2-1 victory at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore. It's L.A.'s first win that counts since the April 21 MLS triumph at Colorado and the first of any sort since a reserve friendly three days later against the L.A. Blues, a span of nine games in all.

The biggest news was Saunders' first game appearance since entering Major League Soccer's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health treatment program at the end of April, but that was quickly overshadowed when Leonardo, just back from a devastating knee injury suffered 13 months ago, appeared to reinjure his right knee after a collision in L.A.'s box with Timbers forward Sebastian Rincon.

There was no immediate diagnosis on Leonardo, who appeared anguished while lying on the turf, was comforted by several teammates, and had to be stretchered to the sideline.

The Brazilian center back tore several knee ligaments near the end of an April 2011 MLS game in Chicago, including the anterior cruciate and, worse, the lateral collateral, requiring two surgeries and an extended rehabilitation. He made a brief appearance in the April 24 game against the Blues, played a half in the May 8 Reserve League match with San Jose, was activated from the MLS Disabled List on May 18, made the 18-man game-day rosters (but did not play) for the last three MLS matches, and went the full 90 in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup loss at the Carolina RailHawks.

He went down just five minutes after giving the Galaxy a quick lead, volleying home a free kick that Kyle Nakazawa curled toward the left post. L.A. got its second goal in the 30th, also on a Nakazawa free kick, from the right edge of the box. Jack McBean, beyond the far post, headed the ball into the goalmouth, and Barrett outleapt Eric Alexander to nod it home.

Alexander scored on a 69th-minute penalty kick for Portland after Rafael Garcia fouled Brent Richards.

Saunders, who remains in the SABH program but returned to training May 21, looked solid in his first action since April 21. He did well on crosses into the box, ably cut off balls meant for Portland's forwards and made all the saves he was supposed to make, none of them particularly difficult.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES