Los Angeles Soccer: Andrew Boyens

GALAXY: Leonardo activated, Boyens to DL

May, 18, 2012
CARSON -- About 24 hours after Bruce Arena told media that Leonardo would be activated “soon” while refusing to be more specific, the Galaxy made the move, on Friday pulling the 24-year-old Brazilian defender off the MLS Disabled List.

He'll be available for Saturday's SuperClasico against Chivas USA at Home Depot Center.

Joe Scarnici/Getty ImagesGalaxy defender Leonardo was removed from the MLS Disabled List and will available for Saturday's game.

Fellow center back Andrew Boyens was placed on the DL with a sports hernia, will undergo surgery next week and faces four to six weeks on the sidelines, the club reported. The New Zealander must sit out at least six games before he can be activated for Major League Soccer play -- he could return for the June 30 game at San Jose -- although he can participate in U.S. Open Cup and MLS Reserve League matches and friendlies.

Leonardo, who was acquired in February on a free transfer after spending the last two seasons with L.A. on loan from So Paulo, started the first seven games last season before shredding several knee ligaments -- including the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral -- in the closing moments of a mid-April victory in Chicago last season. He underwent a second surgery late last fall and has been working steadily the past couple of months to return.

He made appearances in two reserve matches, going 11 minutes in an April 24 victory over the L.A. Blues and all of the first half in last week's MLS Reserve League tie with San Jose.

Arena on Thursday was asked why the Galaxy hadn't looked into acquiring veteran center back Danny Califf, who began his pro career with the club and was traded to Chivas USA.

“We have two center backs [Leonardo and Omar Gonzalez] coming back [from injuries] that are pretty good center backs,” Arena said. “Last thing we need is to fill the locker room with more center backs. We have two good ones that are hopefully going to play this year.”

He added that “Leonardo's real close” but wouldn't specify a target date to pull him off the DL, saying only that it would happen “soon.”

Leonardo has made 17 MLS starts while with the Galaxy, seven of them in shutouts.

Boyens, 28, was acquired in December's re-entry draft from Chivas USA, started three of the first five games of the season and has seen only reserve-team action since. He last played in last week's reserve game against San Jose.

GALAXY: Trade adds to D, but how much?

April, 10, 2012
CARSON -- The Galaxy's backline travails finally prodded Bruce Arena to make a move, but Tuesday's trade to acquire Brazilian veteran David Junior Lopes from Chivas USA isn't the blockbuster fans were hoping for.

After trolling Europe and South America following Omar Gonzalez's knee injury in January -- and after (we might expect) combing for viable options within Major League Soccer -- the Galaxy has settled, it appears, for a rookie and two rejects from down the hall.

David Junior Lopes
Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireIf nothing else, David Junior Lopes, shown above with Chivas USA, will give the Galaxy some bulk on the backline.

If that's harsh, it's also true. Andrew Boyens' option was declined in December by Chivas, and his pickup in the re-entry process -- based on salary as much as anything -- was about adding depth after Gregg Berhalter's retirement and with Leonardo rehabbing a knee injury that will keep him out until at least the end of April. Lopes, who joined the Goats last August after stints in Croatia, Russia, Spain and Romania, had slipped to fourth or fifth on Chivas' depth chart at center back and wasn't on the game-day roster the past three matches.

They're the two most experienced options for the Gonzalez slot, but neither can step into the big Texan's shoes. Neither can Tommy Meyer, selected out of Indiana University with the final pick in the first round of January's MLS SuperDraft -- he has the most upside but the greatest learning curve.

Gonzalez's target date to return is early September, although he hopes to be back earlier, perhaps as soon as July. Until then, the Galaxy (1-3-0 in MLS action, 1-4-1 in all competitive matches) must make do -- and come through.

Arena called Lopes, acquired in exchange for Argentine midfielder Paolo Cardozo, “a big, strong center back” with “good athletic ability” who will provide “a little bit more physicality in that position that we haven't had.” All of that is so, and it's what could make the 29-year-old defender a valuable addition, even if he can't provide the kind of mastery of the position that has brought Gonzalez ample reward: MLS Defender of the Year last season, MLS Rookie of the Year in 2009, Best XI selections in 2010 and 2011.

Lopes is a specimen unlike any the Galaxy have at hand -- 6 feet 3, solidly built, with a physical side to his game that only Gonzalez can exceed. He's outstanding when he's on his game, but his decision-making isn't crisp and he too often commits dumb fouls.

He was ahead of Boyens in the pecking order at Chivas -- Lopes started seven of the Goats' final 11 matches after arriving from Romania's Universitatea Craiova; Boyens, who at 6-4 is taller than Lopes but has not nearly the bulk, saw 45 minutes across 19 games before an injury to Heath Pearce provided starts in the final four games.

Boyens and Meyer have split time next to A.J. DeLaGarza, Gonzalez's usual partner, with less that satisfactory results, although the rookie fared fairly well in last weekend's loss at Sporting Kansas City. One of them figures to get the start Saturday night against Portland at Home Depot Center, but Lopes' physical dimensions probably win out going forward. At least until Leonardo has recovered his form.

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GALAXY: Defense is no joking matter

April, 1, 2012

Andrew Boyens Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireGalaxy defender Andrew Boyens slides for the ball from New England Revolution forward Saer Sene in the Galaxy's 3-1 loss to the Revolution.

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.”

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GALAXY: From bad to worse

March, 31, 2012

Andrew Boyens Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireGalaxy defender Andrew Boyens lunges against New England's Lee Nguyen in the first half.

CARSON -- The Galaxy's second shot at a decent start was far worse than the first one, some 3 weeks ago. After a two-week break in which, the storyline goes, they worked out the kinks that capsized them against Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake, L.A. came out with a real stinker of a show.

New England scored two goals in the first 13 minutes and added a third midway through the second half, easily dismissing the Galaxy, 3-1, on a rainy night at Home Depot Center.

The defensive problems that have plagued L.A. (1-2-0) since the start of preseason have not improved -- both early goals were product of horrendous marking -- and the lack of spark in the Galaxy's game, at least until the second half, set standards the team does not want to repeat.

“I think you always have to be careful about not labeling things that clearly off of one game,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “I think our second half [had] a lot more spirit and determination than there was in the first half. The first half was poor. Some bad communication in the early going, and it cost us a couple of goals. We were never sharp on any play in the first half. Sloppy in every aspect of the game on both sides of the ball.”

The Galaxy was overrun in midfield and at the back, and goals three minutes apart by rookie Kelyn Rowe, a former UCLA All-American, and Chris Tierney more or less settled things by the 13th minute.

New England got behind L.A.'s defense three times in the first nine minutes, then struck in the 10th, when Rowe drifted behind A.J. DeLaGarza and Todd Dunivant to volley a cross from Shalrie Joseph, then volley the rebound after goalkeeper Josh Saunders parried the first strike.

Tierney made it 2-0 in the 13th, beating Paolo Cardozo to a ball from Kevin Alston, who played a give-and-go with Joseph to penetrate from the right channel.

“We did the exact same thing we've been doing the first three games, conceding sloppy goals,” complained striker Robbie Keane, who wore the captain's armband in Landon Donovan's absence because of a quadriceps strain. “Every goal we've conceded so far has been very, very similar. It's stuff you do when you're a kid defending. We didn't do it properly tonight. We have only ourselves to blame. We can't point the finger at anyone else but ourselves. [We need] everyone to pick their heads up and be a man and get on with it.”

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GALAXY: Keane back on target in romp

March, 18, 2012

Galaxy Ring
Robert Mora/L.A. Galaxy2011 MLS Cup championship ring given to the L.A. Galaxy.

CARSON -- Bruce Arena stuck with his first-choice lineup, or most of it, for a fourth game Sunday, and for awhile things looked a whole lot like they had for the first three: dominance, lots of chances, not nearly enough sharpness in front of the net.

A simple tap-in goal by Robbie Keane just before halftime made things right, and the Galaxy cruised to their first victory of the season, using two goals by their Irish striker in an impressive 3-1 romp over D.C. United on a cold, windy afternoon at Home Depot Center.

Keane added a spectacular strike in the 69th minute and Marcelo Sarvas scored his first Major League Soccer goal -- and first goal with his head in his career -- as L.A. (1-1-0) put last weekend's loss to Real Salt Lake and the CONCACAF Champions League disaster against Toronto FC behind them as they head into a 13-day break.

Keane, whose struggles in front of the net in Wednesday's defeat to TFC sparked Arena's comments that the star forward had lost confidence, needed several opportunities before he provided a 45th-minute advantage, then wasted a couple more before doubling the lead midway through the second half with a blast to the top-right corner.

“I don't mind missing chances,” Keane said after his first two-goal game in MLS. “I mind when I'm not in position to score them, so as long as I keep getting into positions, I know eventually I'll score.

“You try and not let [a slump] wear on your mind too much. As you know, in football, sometimes it can take you over. I thought that was probably a little bit of the case. I knew I'd keep plugging away, and as long as I keep getting into the positions, I knew I would score.”

Keane might have had four or five -- and the Galaxy at least a half-dozen -- but sharpness remains an issue. L.A. took 21 shots (to D.C.'s 13) and put eight on target, but until the first one hit the net, there wasn't a whole lot different from the games against RSL and TFC.

“For awhile, it looked like a mirror image of our previous games, where we control the game, had the run of play, create the chances and had nothing to show for it,” Arena said. “Therefore, Robbie's goal right at the end of the half was important for our team and for Robbie. And you saw in the second half a player playing with a lot of confidence, and he played quite well.

“To me, the most important thing: The team performance was better, the effort, the coordination of the team. The desire to play for each other was much improved today, and that's certainly something to build on.”

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GALAXY 2012: Trophies are the aim

March, 9, 2012

Keane/BeckhamAP Photo/Bret HartmanRobbie Keane, left, hopes to be on the end of many of David Beckham's crosses this season.

CARSON -- Things aren't particularly complicated with the Galaxy. They're expected to win, and anything less isn't acceptable, not after three straight Western Conference titles, back-to-back Supporters' Shields and last November's triumph in the MLS Cup title game.

The aim is the same and the side -- on paper, at least -- appears superior in every way except one, maybe two, with the returns of striker Edson Buddle and central midfielders David Beckham and Juninho, the additions of Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas and a few more veterans, plus the experience Robbie Keane gained in his first go-round in this most different and difficult of leagues.

Major League Soccer's hardware is again there for the taking, but the added firepower up front can't mask the big hole at the back. Backline leader Omar Gonzalez, the tall, terrific Texan who deservedly won the league's Defender of the Year honor in 2011, is out until at least September because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and effectively replacing him likely will be the cardinal determiner in whether this year's group can be as successful as last year's.

The mission, says Beckham, “hasn't changed. We want to be champion at the end of this season like we were last season. … You always have goals. You want to better the season before, and to do that, we have to go all the way again.”

The Galaxy went 19-5-10 in last year's regular season, then sprinted to four playoff victories -- capturing the title with a one-sided 1-0 victory over Houston at Home Depot Center -- to cap the club's finest campaign with its third MLS Cup championship. Only two teams, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena's D.C. United in 1996-97 and Houston in 2006-07, have repeated.

“It's always tough to keep hold of a championship and retain that. It's going to be no different for us,” Beckham said. “As long as we play our game and work like we did last season, then we have a chance.”

The additions of Buddle, back after a year in Germany, and Sarvas are significant, but other arrivals -- forward Pat Noonan, defender Andrew Boyens, midfielder Kyle Nakazawa and goalkeeper Bill Gaudette -- have added to L.A.'s depth. Buddle and Keane could be the most potent frontline partnership in the league, especially with Beckham's service, Donovan's contributions and right back Sean Franklin's advancing attacking acumen.

“Getting Edson back, there's not many teams that are going to make a better acquisition than that,” Donovan said. “And we were under the impression that we had lost Juninho [in a loan recall by So Paulo], and to get him back is a big plus, too. [We're] not a front six of guys that I would ever want to play against if I was an opposing defender.”

Replacing Gonzalez is key and quite tricky. The would-be replacement, Brazilian Leonardo, is still rehabbing his knee injury from last year. Boyens took the spot next to A.J. DeLaGarza, who must have a huge campaign, in Wednesday night's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Toronto FC. Top draft pick Tommy Meyer will be groomed to replace Gonzalez, who would soon be heading to Europe, injury or no injury.

Solidifying the backline will “be an ongoing challenge,” Arena acknowledges, but that's what must be done, especially with so many competitions -- they're trying to win one Champions League at the moment, and another starts in August -- on a thick schedule.

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GALAXY: Recurring mistakes a concern

March, 8, 2012

A.J. De La GarzaAP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris YoungThe Galaxy's A.J. DeLaGarza, left, defends against Toronto's Danny Koevermans in Wednesday's game.

TORONTO -- The most concerning thing about the Galaxy's poor start to Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal opener is how familiar were the breakdowns.

A poorly handled corner kick and an inability to mark a runner on a cross provided Toronto FC a two-goal advantage after just 17 minutes, and although L.A. rallied for a dramatic 2-2 draw in the first leg at Rogers Centre, there was plenty of hand-wringing to follow.

“It was a real shaky start,” midfielder Mike Magee said. “Especially since our main goal was to let the game settle down in the first 15 minutes and try not to get their fans involved, so we definitely blew that.”

Magee took the blame for the first goal, saying he “should have done better,” that he “reacted late and headed it where I thought was out [of danger] and headed it straight to Ryan Johnson, who took it well.” Galaxy debutant Andrew Boyens owned up to the second goal, five minutes later, after letting rookie Luis Silva drift behind him to head home Torsten Frings' long cross: “I let my man get away from me.”

Major League Soccer's best defensive team last year conceded two or more goals six times in nine preseason games but needed just a fraction of game time to do so when it counted.

“It was our first time with the whole group, but that's no excuse for a corner-kick [goal] and not marking in the box. You can't use that as an excuse ...,” center back A.J. DeLaGarza said. “The same mistakes we've been doing in preseason. Corner kicks have been hurting us and not marking in the box.”

Todd Dunivant, the most experienced of Galaxy backliners, called the set-piece error “a recurring theme” and “something that we're certainly aware of and trying to fix.” The foundations to the mistakes aren't complicated: L.A. spent little time together, as a full team, during a shorter-than-normal preseason, and they're still figuring out how to defend at the back without middle man Omar Gonzalez, last year's MLS Defender of the Year.

“One of the things that was evident was we haven’t played together,” coach Bruce Arena said. “It’s going to take us some time. This is the first time we were able to put this group together on the field. It's going to take some time.”

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GALAXY: Who’s back for Champions?

March, 6, 2012
TORONTO -- Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan have barely kicked a ball around with their Galaxy teammates. The first game is on plastic, a surface David Beckham diplomatically notes is “not ideal.” There will be some 45,000 red-clad maniacs screaming for blood.

The Galaxy open their 2012 campaign Wednesday night with as meaningful a match as they're apt to play before November arrives -- future CONCACAF Champions League battles aside -- and there are plenty of angles to consider.

Andy Boyens
Scott French/For ESPNLA.comWith Omar Gonzalez injured, Andy Boyens, above, is the likely starter on defense in Wednesday's game at Toronto.

The most telling could come at the back, where the hole Omar Gonzalez has so capably filled will be manned by someone else. The big question: Who?

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said he'll make a decision in the morning, perhaps 10 or 11 hours before L.A. and Major League Soccer rival Toronto FC face off in a quarterfinal first leg in domed Rogers Centre, but that's just coachspeak. All signs are that New Zealander Andrew Boyens will partner A.J. DeLaGarza in central defense.

The rest of the Galaxy lineup ought to look familiar: Josh Saunders in the nets, Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant as outside backs, the usual crew across midfield -- Donovan, Beckham, Juninho and Mike Magee -- and Keane up top with Edson Buddle, who's back after a year in Germany.

It's as good a lineup as can be seen in MLS, but Gonzalez -- MLS's reigning Defender of the Year, out until at least September because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament -- will be in a luxury suite, watching his teammates in an encounter that, if not quite must-win, should be considered can't-lose.

“Obviously, Omar's going to hurt. There's no question about that,” Donovan, L.A.'s captain, said on the eve of the club's trek to Canada's biggest city. “But we've got a system in place, and Bruce has done a really good job with the young guys and with Andrew, getting them ready to fill that role. There will probably be a mixing and matching of some guys, but we still feel confident.”

Arena says all of the options -- Boyens, who arrived from Chivas USA in December's re-entry process, and rookie Tommy Meyer are the best of the bunch -- are “ready to play,” that “they've had enough” time to figure things out in preseason, that it's “no different than we experienced some years ago” with Gonzalez and DeLaGarza, as rookies in 2009, “where we had to throw them to the wolves.”

Except it is different. The Galaxy has never played so significant a match to start their season, Toronto FC looks ready to take huge strides after five mostly forgettable campaigns -- and in Dutchman Danny Koevermans possesses an attacker that Arena calls “the real deal, as good a forward as there is” in MLS -- and Gonzalez's influence at the back cannot be understated. It's the one massive question mark staring down the club as it prepares to defend its MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield titles and become the league's first team to win CONCACAF's club championship since the tournament expanded to its current format in 2008.

“It's been something we've been working on all preseason,” said Dunivant said, the most experienced player on the Galaxy backline. “It's no secret that somebody's got to fill the big shoes of Omar. … It's still a work in progress -- it's by no means finished.

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GALAXY: Donovan, Keane getting in tune

March, 4, 2012

CARSON -- Landon Donovan is starting to feel like himself again. Robbie Keane is “sharp” and “fit.” Both finally are training with the Galaxy, just days before the season begins, and that's a huge step forward for the Major League Soccer's reigning champions.

Both have returned from short-term loan spells in England, but with one significant difference. Keane arrived last week after an exceptional stint with Aston Villa -- he was, from the moment he arrived, the Premier League club's most significant player.

Donovan, coming off a superb seven weeks at Everton, arrived home with the flu and spent the next week in bed.

He's finally coming around but needs to regain the fitness and form he had while overseas.

“It's been a really frustrating 2 weeks, missing the last game [of the loan] at Everton, missing the trip [for last week's U.S. game] to Italy and just trying to get healthy,” he said after L.A.'s training session Sunday morning at Home Depot Center. “Sometimes the flu or sickness doesn't care what's going on, it's just going to do what it's going to do.”

Donovan said he felt he turned a corner on Wednesday, as he watched the Americans' victory over the Italians. He ran for the first time Thursday in Arizona, where the team ended its preseason preparations, and trained for the first time, for real, Saturday at HDC.

“Honestly, probably not till today did I feel closse to getting back to myself,” he said. “I haven't been able to breathe very well with all this in my lungs. It's a nice feeling.”

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GALAXY: Sarvas shows off in defeat

February, 29, 2012

Galaxy opponents are afraid to commit fouls anywhere near their box when David Beckham is on the field, for obvious reasons. When he's not, it's no big thing.

After Marcelo Sarvas' piece of brilliance Wednesday night, they might be rethinking that philosophy.

Sarvas, on for Beckham with 25 minutes to go in the Desert Diamond Cup group finale against New York, whistled a free kick from inside the semicircle above the box past Red Bulls rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara and inside the far post to provide L.A. a real highlight in an otherwise disappointing 2-1 defeat in Tucson, Ariz.

Chad Barrett's return to action, for the first time since brutally dislocating his ankle in the lead up to last November's MLS Cup final, was another plus, as was the effort by Canoga Park's Rafael Garcia -- the Cal State Northridge product making a strong bid for a roster spot on the eve of the league's compliance date.

But Omar Gonzalez's absence continues to loom large for L.A., which is just a week from its season opener and continues to struggle without the big man in the back.

Poor defending led to both New York goals, with Kenny Cooper easily broaching the backline to finish rookie Connor Lade's feed in the 31st minute and Thierry Henry running unhindered from midfield to the box, then playing a give-and-go of sorts with Dane Richards and nodding home the return in the 62nd. Rookie Tommy Meyer has great upside, but he's a rookie; Andrew Boyens, his partner on Wednesday, is a reserve, pure and simple. One of them likely will team with A.J. DeLaGarza in central defense, at least until Leonardo is ready to go, and he'll have not played in a year when he's expected to return to the field in April.

It has to be a concern for L.A., which has just one shutout in eight preseason games -- Saturday's 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake -- and has conceded 17 goals, at least two in six games. The five preseason losses, which matters not a whit, is as many as the Galaxy lost all last year in Major League Soccer play, including the postseason.

The Red Bulls were the superior side most of the night, and their victory would have been more pronounced if not for goalkeeper Josh Saunders' off-his-line stop on Richards, who split Boyens and DeLaGarza to run on to Teemu Tainio's superb through ball midway through the first half.

The Galaxy's best chances were, as usual, product of Beckham's right foot, but Meara -- despite a clumsy performance that betrayed his youth -- took care of the most dangerous moments until Sarvas halved the deficit with 12 minutes to go.

The attack, like the defense, is a work in progress. Landon Donovan has not yet trained fully, and Robbie Keane will join the team in the next couple of days, now that his loan deal with Aston Villa is over and Ireland's friendly Wednesday with the Czech Republic done.

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GALAXY: Meyer a possible middle man?

February, 10, 2012

CARSON -- The Galaxy have two pressing questions as they wrap up their third week of preseason camp: the old one (who's going to step into Omar Gonzalez's shoes?) and the new one (who's going to start in midfield?).

The midfield considerations will work themselves out once Juninho has arrived from Brazil, which apparently will be sometime next week. There's still a month to figure it out, and all of the options -- with David Beckham, Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho likely rotating through two central spots -- are good ones.

Aaron Maund
Matt Cashore/US PresswireTommy Meyer, right, was a key defender for Indiana University last season. He could be part of the Galaxy's plans in 2012.

It's a tougher call at the back, where rookie Tommy Meyer has been getting the minutes opposite A.J. DeLaGarza with the first team and is showing that he belongs at this level. He gave his best of three preseason-match performances in Friday's 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on L.A.'s Home Depot Center training field and, at the least, appears to be in the mix to fill the giant, empty hole left when Gonzalez suffered the torn ACL a little more than a month ago.

Or perhaps not. The company that owns half of Roman Torres' contract with Colombia's Atletico Nacional told Panamanian daily Critica that the Galaxy had ended discussions to acquire the Panamanian defender because they had sorted out their issues at the back.

That could mean the Galaxy has targeted a different central defender from aboard (or perhaps merely eliminated Torres from its list), or, after taking on Edson Buddle's and Juninho's salaries in the past 10 days, must sit tight with what they have.

One of the central spots falls to DeLaGarza, Gonzalez's primary partner last year. Candidates to join him in the starting XI, among those on the roster, are Meyer, Chivas USA castoff Andrew Boyens and Brazilian Leonardo, who is still rehabbing torn knee ligaments from last year and won't be back until April earliest.

Boyens has an edge in experience, with New Zealand's national team and with the Goats, New York and Toronto FC, but Meyer's upside appears far higher.

“He's been consistent, and that's what you like to see ...,” said DeLaGarza, a versatile defender whose best position is right back. “He's a young player, he's composed on the ball. You like that as a young player. He's doing well right now. Can't complain.”

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GALAXY: Preseason 2012 quick look

January, 22, 2012

Landon Donovan, David BeckhamVictor Decolongon/Getty ImagesNow that the David Beckham has agreed to return, the Galaxy can calm down and work on their title defense.

CARSON -- David Beckham's signing, made official last week, answered the greatest of offseason questions for the Galaxy. As the club heads into preseason training, with its first on-field session slated for Monday morning at Home Depot Center, there's one more gnawing concern: the backline.

It was defense that made the difference in L.A.'s runs last season to the MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield titles, with Omar Gonzalez's exquisite play at center back setting the tone for a club that tied the Major League Soccer record for shutouts, with 17, and added five more in the playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League.

The torn anterior cruciate ligament Gonzalez sustained on Jan. 5, in his first practice following a short-term loan deal to Germany's FC Nuremberg, leaves a massive hole in the middle of the Galaxy's backline, and how they deal with it will have much influence on what they achieve in 2012.

Here's a quick look at the Galaxy as their campaign begins:


Best Galaxy team in history? Oh, yeah. (Sorry, '96ers.) In MLS annals? Hard to argue. They amassed 67 points (most of the post-shootout era) on a 19-5-10 campaign, was the only club in a remarkably balanced league that conceded less than a goal per game, cruised to the Supporters' Shield (as regular-season champ, quietly the most meaningful of MLS's prizes), then went 4-0 through the playoffs, capping the campaign with a 1-0 triumph over Houston, not nearly so close, in an MLS Cup final played before the home fans.

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CHIVAS USA: Preseason 2012 quick look

January, 15, 2012

Robin FraserVictor Decolongon/Getty ImagesRobin Fraser is rebuilding his roster again this winter.

CARSON -- Chivas USA's preparations for the 2012 season began with medical exams Sunday and moves onto good, old Field 6 at Home Depot Center on Monday morning, with head coach Robin Fraser welcoming a lot of new faces -- and not all of them, by any means, under contract.

The Goats have unloaded nearly half their 2011 roster and added a half-dozen or so new names, and if Fraser's second preseason in charge is anything like the first, plenty of trialists will get a look.

Chivas brass last year looked at more than 80 players, including academy kids, as Fraser and general manager Jose Domene presided over a rebuild that the coach said was more building “from scratch.”

Fraser's idea this year is to have a team in place as the preseason starts, but he's got roster spots to fill and areas of great need and not all negotiations are finished. Five players will be added in Tuesday's supplemental draft, and another overseas signing is possible.

Here's a quick look at the Goats as their campaign begins:

Chivas endured the kind of up-and-down season common to rebuilding years in 2011, playing some exceptional possession soccer but suffering from inconsistency at both ends. The Goats won back-to-back games just once, in April, and watched .500 slip away over the last two-thirds of the season. Playoff hopes died with a seven-game winless streak in August and September.

Nonetheless, Fraser and his staff built a strong foundation, several players -- especially goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, midfielder Nick LaBrocca and defender Heath Pearce -- enjoyed remarkable seasons and the addition of Juan Pablo Angel, in an August trade from the Galaxy, gave the Goats their first top-class MLS striker since Ante Razov.

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GALAXY: Quick look at new quartet

December, 12, 2011

The Galaxy picked up the rights to four players in Monday's second-stage draft in Major League Soccer's re-entry process, and they have a week to reach an agreement with them.

Here's a quick look at the quartet:


Who is he?Tall, somewhat clumsy defender with New Zealand national team experience has spent six seasons in MLS, starting 30 games over 2008-09 for New York. The 28-year-old center back started 10 games for Chivas USA last season but played in just one of 19 games from June 1 through Sept. 21.
2011 contract: $60,000, with Chivas USA.
Numbers: 12 games (10 starts, 909 minutes) with one goal in 2011; 70 games (63 starts) with two goals and an assist in six seasons with Toronto FC (2007-08), New York (2008-10) and Chivas (2011).
Says Bruce Arena: “Boyens is a player I've been following for years. A good teammate and a pretty solid center back who offers cover in the position.”


Who is he? Veteran outside back, 32, who has lost a step -- and with it his job to younger, cheaper talent. He can play on either side at the back and provides needed cover on the right with Sean Franklin's situation still unclear. He's started more than 25 games three times in a 10-year career, the last in 2009, but ended 2011 by seeing action in just one of San Jose's final 13 games.
2011 contract: $106,050, with San Jose.
Numbers: 14 games (12 starts, 1,115 minutes) with one assist in 2011; 205 games (184 starts) with 14 assists in 10 seasons with Columbus (2002), MetroStars (2003-05), Columbus again (2006), New York again (2007-08) and San Jose (2009-11).
Says Bruce Arena: “Chris Leitch is a very experienced player -- I had him [when I was head coach] in New York. He's a player who can offer cover at right back and left back and also can play a little center back. He's an experienced player who can help our roster.”

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GALAXY: Sarvas the prize as roster grows

December, 12, 2011

The Galaxy made the deepest plunge in Major League Soccer's second-stage re-entry draft, grabbing the rights to four veterans in positions Bruce Arena said the club needed depth and keeping the rights to two defenders whose options had been declined.

But the biggest acquisition the Galaxy coach/general manager mentioned in Monday's post-draft teleconference isn't official. Yet.

Arena said L.A., indeed, has signed Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas from Costa Rican power Alajuelense. Sarvas, 30, last week told Costa Rican website Al Pie del Deporte that he had agreed to a two-year deal with the Galaxy.

Asked about Sarvas, Arena first hesitated and asked the Galaxy's media director where the club stood on an announcement. Then he said: “We've signed that player, and we will in the next day or two get out a release on him. He's a good, experienced, two-way midfielder I think is going to help our team.”

So, in theory, will goalkeeper Jon Conway, defenders Andrew Boyens and Chris Leitch, and forward Pat Noonan, whose rights were acquired during Monday's draft. The Galaxy also reacquired the rights to defenders Frankie Hejduk and Dasan Robinson.

“Our selections were based simply on covering some positions, and as you know the rules, we have seven days to reach agreement with the players,” Arena said. “Whether we do or not remains to be seen. What we were able to do is select players in some positions we believe we need cover for. They're all veteran players, they have experience, and they're good players for the locker room. At the end of the day, if we get some of them or all of them, they'll all be a positive asset for our team.”

The Galaxy took Boyens, 28, a tall central defender from New Zealand who played in a dozen league games last season for Chivas USA, with the fifth selection of the first round. Leitch, 32, an outside back who has spent the past three seasons in San Jose, was taken at the end of the second round.

By then everybody else was done, and Arena added Noonan, 31, from Seattle and Conway, 34, from Chicago, then grabbed the rights to Hejduk, a reserve outside back for L.A. last season, and Robinson, a center back whom L.A. acquired in a trade from Toronto FC in September.

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