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Arena: Gonzalez and Donovan not leaving on loan; Keane out for four to six weeks; and more

BruceArenaLAGalaxy1-RSLPlayoffs (USATodaySports)


Los Angeles Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez won’t be moving to Europe on loan in January.

That’s according to Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, who, in a wide-ranging interview on Galaxy All-Access, put an end to any speculation of the U.S. Men’s National Team duo leaving during the final offseason before the 2014 World Cup. By doing so, both Gonzalez and Donovan will be available for USMNT camp this January in Los Angeles and Brazil.

“Our players aren’t going anywhere,” Arena told Galaxy All-Access. “Even though we argue that the (offseason) layoff is going to be too long, he can go into the camp with the U.S. team in January, as will Landon Donovan. Our players have had a really tough run this year, in particular Robbie (Keane) and Omar (Gonzalez) with all their requirements with their national teams. They had a full 11 months of playing and they need some time off.”

Donovan had previously stated that he was targeting a return to fitness in January while he recovers from a left ankle sprain that bothered him for the last month and a half of the season.

Earlier this week, Galaxy forward Robbie Keane underwent surgery on both of his Achilles, and Arena provided a bit more clarification on the procedure and a timetable for his return.

“He had his Achilles cleaned out and he got PRP (platelet-rich-plasma) treatment to help heal those areas to (heal) the inflammation,” Arena said. “He should be back in training in four to six weeks so the timing was perfect for him. Robbie was hindered a lot over the last couple months of the season with the irritation and inflammation of the achilles area, so to get it cleaned up now and get it right for 2014 is obviously pretty good for us.”

Speaking of news happening during the Galaxy’s offseason, Arena once more took a shot at the Major League Soccer schedule makers, disagreeing with the amount of time in the offseason and claiming that none of the coaches in MLS would have agreed on the current length of the season if they had a say in it.

This year the Galaxy will go 121 days between their final game, a 2-0 defeat in the MLS playoffs to Real Salt Lake, and the opening game of their 2014 MLS season, ironically also against RSL. In contrast, England (90 days), Italy (98 days), Spain (78 days), and Germany (84 days) all had shorter offseason’s between last season and their current season’s in their top divisions.

It’s not the first time this season that Arena has gone public with his opinions on scheduling. Just one month ago, Arena complained – and partially blamed himself – for having to play a match in the CONCACAF Champions League during the final week of the regular season.

“We can’t fix it, unfortunately,” lamented Arena. “People who were responsible for making these decisions didn’t communicate properly with any of us (coaches). It’s set a break that was probably unanimously not in agreement with by the coaches and we are stuck with it. Players need a break, there’s no question about it but they don’t need 11 weeks, they don’t need 12 weeks, they don’t need nine weeks. They need anywhere from four to six weeks, and this one’s just a little bit too much.

“That means it will take longer to bring players around in the preseason, and that’s challenging, especially for the clubs in the league that are involved in the (CONCACAF) Champions League.”

The offseason is a time for players to review their past season and find ways to improve for the next, and Arena is already challenging a handful of his players to improve for next season. Though he admitted that rookie Gyasi Zardes had a good season, Arena said he wants to see more out of the 22-year-old next year. Zardes finished with four goals and four assists in 27 games played in the league, but Arena cited a statistic that shows Zardes had a number of chances (78 shots) and didn’t put enough of them away.

In addition, Arena called on Robbie Rogers to recover the form that earned him 18 caps with the USMNT, while also saying that he needs more out of Juninho and Marcelo Sarves in central midfield next season.

With the early signing of Baggio Husidic, Arena believes that the young midfielder could complement the Brazilian midfield pair.

I think he helps complement Juninho and (Marcelo) Sarvas,” said Arena. “I don’t think we had that (complement) there this year, those players played the most minutes for us and we need to get them off the field a little bit as well. So I think if Husidic comes and fits in right away we expect him to get some playing time.”

The Galaxy have been at the forefront of the league’s effort to develop homegrown players and they’re likely to take a step forward next year with the creation of their own USL Pro franchise. Earlier in September, LA Galaxy Insider reported that the club was looking into putting out their own USL Pro team and Arena confirmed that everything is currently going to plan.

While there was success this season with the partnerships between MLS and USL Pro clubs – most notably Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City SC – the Galaxy feel that it’s in their best interests to have a USL Pro club that can practice at the same location as the first team to minimize travel for players between the two clubs.

The Galaxy are hoping get to more games not only for the likes of Zardes, Jose Villarreal, and Jack McBean, but also for young players coming up through the academy.

“We’re going ahead full speed, we anticipate having a USL Pro team (next season),” Arena revealed. “That (team) will serve our academy players who we are moving up to the Major League roster, it will serve our players who are not playing on a regular basis for our first team as well, and then we’re going to have other players involved on the roster.

“Between our first team and this roster, which right now is 30, 29 players in MLS, we’re likely going to have another 15 players that are involved in the USL team and complimented by our roster. So we should have 45 players here on a daily basis, two teams, and there should be a number of opportunities for players to get game experience and to continue to move forward.

“We’re hopeful that we can discover a couple of players through the USL team but also develop our academy players who need playing time, so you’re going to see players like Oscar Sorto, Jack McBean, Raul Mendiola, perhaps Jose Villarreal. All those young players, if they’re not playing on a regular basis with (the LA Galaxy first team), will get games with the USL team.”


  1. Please help me! I’m 11 years old and I just started soccer. I like it a lot and want to like a professional team but don’t want to like some crappy team or stuck-up rich team any suggestions.

  2. Unsolicited editing help: I’m sure there will be plenty compliments going back and forth but in this particular case, the word you want is complement, not compliment.

  3. Clint listen and learn….from a guy who was seriously injured and a guy who was burned out…..

    ………and for what ? For nothing. Everton never won anything of course and whoever OG didn’t play much for probably did worse.

  4. I hope they have the teams that create a USL Pro Team play in a new city/location. It would be great to build the brand/make the game more accessible as a fan.

    Thinking the Galaxy team could find a site in San Diego or one in say Chicago could play in Milwaukee or actually in the city of Chicago like at UIC or something.

  5. Quality interview from Bruce, aside from the obligatory scheduling rant – Don should just let him lead the scheduling comittee. I like their USL Pro plan; really on a mission there.

    I hope that they are resting up a getting ready for the showdown with Tijuana soon!

    • The article also claims they are working on getting Lakaku inked perminatly. If either of those happen it would be pretty exciting for Everton fans..

      • not this article:

        “Everton boss Roberto Martinez meanwhile, has admitted he has no chance of signing star striker Romelu Lukaku on a permanent deal.”

        “But Martinez is confident that he can find a replacement for Lukaku – even if he is vitally important to this season’s ambitions.”

  6. One thing you can’t argue with is LA’s intent to develop both depth and young talent. Having a 45-man roster with a legit B team – to which the A’s can loan out players buried on their bench – is a huge, huge advantage for them and will start producing fruit…probably as soon as next year. What happens when the Galaxy can get the likes of McBean and Villareal and a host of other youngsters regular, meaningful playing time? The knock on MLS teams – and LA is no exception – is that their starting 11 can usually compete even against Mexican power teams…but when they start having to dip into the bench because of injuries/fatigue, bad stuff happens because the dropoff from player #11 and player #12 is often like falling off a cliff.

    But if MLS teams start going legitimately 15 or 18 players deep with quality players…well. That’s different, and will increase the quality of play throughout the season…and give the MLS teams legit legs for the CONCACAF Champions League.

  7. They’ve already been off for weeks, and will continue to be. Rest is no reason why they can’t go on loan in January, especially Gonzalez. If he can go to camp, he can go on loan. He needs to have some experience facing European competition on a weekly basis. He needs to experience what it’s like to fight for his place in a place where his occasional blunders have consequences. Because they’ll have consequences in Brazil.

    • He doesnt want him going to Europe because the team he goes too may buy him out and MLS will say yes to the right price (cause he is a DP defender) and Bruce. selfishly, doesnt want to lose the key to his defense

  8. How come the obvious is so difficult for the MLS decision makers to realize? Start the season a month or month and half earlier and end it a month earlier. No gaps longer than a week in playoffs and no two weeks layoffs during the season(of course okay in WC year).
    -Montreal and Toronto create a mini greenhouse over fields equipped with heaters with blowers. Same goes for Chicago and Cbus. Squeak out 90 for a month!
    LA running a USL Pro team is great idea, stepping over the roster allotment. I like how LA makes the rules. Why not just increase the team rosters to 45 and increase the reserve games? Hell, Portland gets 6,000 plus for reserve games on a good night. More games means more revenue even more reserve games and more reps means better player development. Maybe bring back Thirsty Thursdays?

    • Well, the reserve league was shuttered for a few years before it was brought back. As everything else with MLS, it’s all a step by step process. Also, I’m finding it tough to wait the 99 days until March 8.

      • They need to cut it to about 80 days and not ram 3 games in one weeks time down teams throats in September. Spread it out and have a lineup like they are trying to do on Fridays. I bet if they did a Friday night double header on NBCSports it would do well. Also when the BPL is going on, have MLS games scheduled RIGHT AFTER the English matches end and have another double header. So you get to watch the BPL then a couple MLS games nationally. That is 4 MLS National televised matches plus ESPN(when they have their Sunday nighters)

    • With respect to USL roster, the plan would be to have 15 players under USL contracts and have 4 current MLS rostered players loaned out for entire season. Galaxy could then send additional players for games who aren’t on 18 man game day rosters. This way they can get minutes and not just practice. They would return to first team practices after matches.

      Galaxy can also send players there who are coming back from injuries to gain minutes prior to 1st team recall. USL team will practice on their own with own coaches not with first team.

  9. I know Arena complains a lot but he usually is right. The off season is way to long and I am sure Arena was instrumental in the Galaxy fielding their own USL team which in time I think all MLS teams will need to do if they are truly committed to growing players for the first team.

    • He is right on some things like the schedule but he is a cry baby. He could be so much more enthralling if he picked his battles. By the way assuring people that a certain player isnt going to go on loan is ridiculous. If one of the major Euro squads calls on Omar (they wont but if they did) is Omar gonna be okay with coach saying No. Hell no he isnt…Bruce isnt their daddy though I bet he would say he is

      • All your comments are anti-Bruce. Might as well quit with the pretense and just say, “I’m jealous of LA’s success.”

  10. I love it that the Galaxy are taking player development so seriously. Let’s hope that the continue to bring young players into the league.

    • Most teams by the beginning of 2015 season will have the USL Pro teams for their bench players to get a chance. He isnt doing anything special

      • I am glad to hear/read that. I feel like one of the biggest “dysfunctions” over the years with Soccer in America has been a lack of streamlined development path. This seems pretty cut clean.

      • I could be way of base but… my impression is that most teams will have an agreement w/ a USL team in order to get playing time for developmental players whereas Galaxy is looking to own a USL team to play/practice at the same facility as the Galaxy. If this is true, there’s a pretty big difference in this approach and benefits.

  11. I get so tired of Arena and his bitching. If they made the off season shorter he’d complain about how long the season is. Thankfully his team got bounced from the playoffs, if not we would have 4-5 more bitching articles about Arena.

    Move to Portland Ives!


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