Champions League measuring stick for Gs
Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy regards the CONCACAF Champions League as the measuring stick for the organization and for Major League Soccer in particular.
"This is really important, especially because of how we went out last year," second-year Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens told LAGalaxy.com's Larry Morgan. "I think this year we want to redeem ourselves and show that we have a team that can compete internationally as well as do well in MLS.
"It’s very important to all of us."
"It’s big," Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter said. "First of all, it’s a great experience, but more than that it’s a competition. And we want to go in with the mindset that we want to succeed in the tournament, and that means going to the next round.
"It’s always a measuring stick. It gives you a chance to compare yourself but also compete at a good level."
Last year, the Galaxy lost on aggregate to the Puerto Rico Islanders 5-3 in the Preliminary Round after an inexcusable 4-1 defeat in the first leg.
"It’s very important to help the level of MLS and we want to do well because we’re representing the Galaxy," said defender Chris Birchall. "It’s an enjoyable thing going to different countries and playing different teams in hostile environments.
"We’re looking forward to it."
"We all want to show we’re good, not only nationally but internationally," Stephens added. "I think if you look at the best clubs in the world that’s what they’re all striving to do, and we’re no different."
Landon Donovan: Mr. Versatility
This season, Landon Donovan played three different positions: a midfielder, a winger and a forward.
In any case, Donovan is the Galaxy's team captain, and if Bruce Arena wanted to play him in defense, it's his decision.
"He helps fill holes that we have at times or he addresses other needs," Arena told MLSSoccer.com's Luis Bueno. "It just depends. We’ve had a shortage of bodies as well. You’ve got to move people around and that’s what unfortunately we’ve had to do the entire season."
Magee plus Cristman equals payoff
Arena was pleased with the decision to start both Mike Magee and Adam Cristman up top in their 3-1 win over FC Dallas last week.
"We wanted to go with [Cristman on Saturday] to play against two very good center backs that Dallas has and I think he did a good job in battling and holding the ball for us," Arena told Bueno. "[Magee] has a player like Adam next to him and it gives him a different type of role in terms of having the ability to pass and attack the box a little bit more.
"I wanted to go with that pairing up top and change some things. Those two played well."
So, how's the Big Cat from Montego Bay doing?
Donovan Ricketts continues to recover from his elbow injury, and the Jamaican international could be sidelined for the remainder of the season if it doesn't heal fast enough.
"We’ve seen improvement," Arena told Bueno. "I’m hopeful in the next month we see him back on the field. If he was a field player, he’d be playing for us right now. But he’s a goalkeeper. He’s going to have to get the strength back in his arm.
"He’s going to have to start having the confidence that he can deal with contact. We think in the next week or two he’ll start getting in the goal a little bit more."