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Galaxy Notebook: Arena praises Donovan; Zardes, Wright-Phillips reveal Keane admiration; and more


Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/ USA Today Sports


Having coached Landon Donovan at both the club and international level, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has seen the growth of his star forward every step of the way.

Donovan tied the league’s all-time assist record in Sunday’s 4-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls, but Arena admitted that he didn’t believe that the 32-year-old forward was much of a passer until recently.

“He used to be, I thought, purely a goal scorer,” Arena said after the game. “He’s a much better creator now. He’s a good passer of the ball. He’s improved. He’s gotten better. Him and Robbie [Keane] have been responsible for bring Gyasi [Zardes] along. I think their ability to pass and move is critical to our success.”

For his part, Donovan admitted that he has worked to develop into a strong playmaker by just looking to make the right decision.

“I’ve always wanted to be that type of player,” Donovan said. “I didn’t want to be one dimensional. I wanted to have all sorts of different parts to my game and I hope that showed.”

Here are some more of Monday’s LA Galaxy news and notes:


Galaxy forward Robbie Keane has spent years playing the game at the highest level. The 34-year-old forward has featured for 10 different teams throughout his career and has even drawn the admiration of some of MLS’ best goalscorers.

Gyassi Zardes, who has 16 goals to Keane’s 17 this season, revealed his admiration for his teammate after the two once again spearheaded the Galaxy attack Sunday with three of the team’s four goals.

“I’ve watched Robbie Keane over the years, and he has always been consistent,” Zardes said. “He is an incredible and phenomenal forward. So just seeing that today from the chip, from his other goal, it’s just wonderful to see that and play alongside of that.”

Joining Zardes in praising Keane was Sunday’s opposing striker, Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. The Englishman, who leads the league in goals with 24, discussed Keane’s impact on his own game that dates back to the forward’s childhood.

“Growing up, Robbie Keane was my favorite player,” Wright-Phillips said. “We had something in England like a player camera that you could follow that player around, and I used to watch his move and his touch. He is a tremendous player. He hasn’t lost it at all.”


Lost in the shuffle of Donovan assists and Keane goals was the clean sheet maintained by Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

However, Penedo’s teammates were quick to credit their goalkeeper after the game, as Penedo’s display Sunday was the latest in a string if impressive performances.

“We needed (Penedo’s saves),” Donovan said. “Bradley Wright-Phillips had some fantastic runs. Got himself in some good positions which he has done all year. Against all the other goalies, he scored those goals. Jaime did a great job, he came up big when we needed him. We don’t often need him to make many saves because our defense does a great job. But tonight we needed him, he was excellent.”

“All around Jaime did a great job tonight, stopping those chances where Bradley [Wright-Phillips] got in behind,” added defender Omar Gonzalez. “[Thierry] Henry running at you is never easy because he can put the ball wherever he wants and Bradley Wright-Phillips with good runs in mind, they’re going to get chances and that’s the way soccer is. They’re going to get chances in games but Jaime came out big and saved us the clean sheet.”

Gonzalez continued to praise his goalkeeper, citing Penedo’ self-belief since returning from duty with the Panama national team as a major factor in his improved play.

“He came back from the national team with a lot of confidence and that’s great to see,” Gonzalez said. “I love seeing my keeper like that. Moving forward we hope he continues to play the way he has been and if he is going to keep playing like that then that’s big for us.”

Where does Donovan rank among the league’s best playmakers? What do you think of Keane’s performances so far this season? What do you think of Penedo’s recent play?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. all contributing well in their roles. Penedo came up big, great stuff since returning from Panama duty. Rodgers making his piece of the trade worthy big time, Gargan his best season ever maybe, Husidic playing his best ball since becoming a Galaxian. AJ/Gonzo, Keane/LD/Zardes, Juninho/Marcelo, LD/Rodgers on the left, Ishizaki off the bench, lots of things working. Not many players in MLS work harder than Marcelo.

  2. The way LD is playing it’s a real shame that LAG doesn’t double his pay for one more year! The form he is in most soccer players wish they could attain and to think he’s just gonna go sit in someone’s TV Studio … COME ON LAG … COME ON CAKES!

    • Agree with the first 4, I’d add in GBS with the Crew, he was officially a DP player I believe(correct me if I’m wrong, I can’t recall). Martins might join them soon though.

    • Based purely on their tenures in MLS, I think that’s an agreeable list, but it’s tricky measuring Beckham against your top three because he’s not a striker.

      Here’s are some stats to back up your list, plus a couple more who deserve to be listed:

      [legend: name – goals – assists – seasons in MLS]
      1) Keane – 51 – 35 – 4
      2) Henry – 50 – 41 – 5
      3) Angel – 72 – 15 – 7
      4) Beckham – 18 – 40 – 6
      5) Di Vaio – 31 – 9 – 3
      6) Martins – 23 – 14 – 2
      8) Schelotto – 33 – 41 – 4
      7) Javier Morales – 37 – 65 – 8

      • Handicap it out but add supporters shield, MLS Cup, maybe shirt sales, watch Beckham climb the list!

        I want to add Landon Donovan, isn’t he Cambodian?

        I agree with the Schelotto and Blanco suggestions, both made huge contributions.

    • Galaxy are strong front to back…and they’re getting tremendous contributions from some of their non-DP’s.

      Zardes is probably the single most-athletic forward in the American pool. Physically he’s a cross between the likes of Balotelli and a younger Drogba…he’s not at that level yet, technically, and he’s not that kind of finisher, but he’s getting better in leaps and bounds and it’s obvious having Keane around him is having a huge influence on his game…his movement is improving by the month and his confidence is soaring.

      Robbie Rogers shocks me. He’s still got that pace but he’s got size and athleticism too to hold up defensively and when he comes rampaging out of the back he absolutely means it and can totally twist a defense out of shape when he drives. Your right wing had durn well better track him or you’re going to have major problems. He’s so much better as a left back than he was as a left wing it’s night and day…easily, easily, easily the best LB in MLS right now. USMNT quality? Absolutely. And I never saw it when he was a left wing, when I thought he had pace but not much else. But coming out of the back he’s got the space he rarely had when he was a winger. Perfect fit for a USMNT that aspires to play a 4-3-3 and needs width from its wingbacks.

      Penedo’s been a revelation as a keeper…and again shows the underrated quality MLS is dipping into with lesser-known CONCACAF countries. You can get one heck of a Central American soccer player for less than $100K and smart MLS sides are availing themselves of it. Are you an MLS manager looking for good buys? Watch the Gold Cup. There’s MLS-quality starters galore even on the lesser teams.

      Still think the Galaxy could use a real destroyer in midfield – I’ve never been super-impressed with the Galaxy’s collective work rate or overall athleticism aside from Zardes, Donovan, and Rogers – but if you can’t contest possession and let the Galaxy get too much of the ball, they’re going to run you over because they attack so well, and countering them isn’t overly effective because of Rogers’ catch-up speed and how tight Gonzalez and De Le Garza are at CB…and of course, Penedo is such an eraser he’ll rob you even of some clear opportunities.

      Not an overly deep crew, and their age makes them a bit suspect over grueling stretches, but the starting 11, when healthy, is a menace to deal with right now. The only team that really matches up is Seattle…and, surprisingly, maybe New England now that the Revs have Jermaine Jones. (It would not shock me if the Revs surprise everybody and walk away with it all this year.)

      Be interesting to see how they fare next year without Donovan, and what direction they move in…especially with the new collective bargaining agreement coming in January. My suspicion is that they’ll be one of the big beneficiaries of the new CBA because it’ll free them to buy a lot of quality guys who would love to play for them, but who LA previously couldn’t wedge under the cap. So…you lose Donovan, but maybe pick up one (or even two) more DP’s, and some under-$350K guys along the lines of Sascha Klejstan? LA could well come out ahead – or even [i]well[/i] ahead – in the deal. And the resulting team might also just be deep enough to finally hold up in the CCL…and not get itself laid out 7-0 by Manchester United in mid-week friendly games they can’t afford to expend energy competing in.

      • Gyardes makes this team tough to beat.. he takes pressure off the shoulders of everyone in the attacking third…

        He’s highly competent in front of goal..

        Regardless.. Salt Lake remains the most potent threat in this Conference..

        Dallas can potentially compete..

        Portland’s winning games…

        Would’nt be surprised if Portland challenged for a second conference title..

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