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MLS Cup notes: DeLaGarza ready for Sunday; Shuttleworth following in Reis’ footsteps; and more

A.J. DeLaGarza (USA Today Images)

Photo by Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports


The LA Galaxy will need their full complement of defenders to stop the red-hot New England Revolution offense on Sunday, and Galaxy fans got some good news from the versatile A.J. DeLaGarza on Monday during a media conference call with both MLS Cup finalists.

DeLaGarza missed the frigid second leg of the Western Conference final in Seattle after injuring his right hamstring in the first leg, but he calmed anyone doubting his status for the title match.

“I feel a lot better,” DeLaGarza said. “I’ll be ready to play this weekend. It was just a factor of the turf and the weather was not good to go out there. You saw Ozzie Alonso had two weeks to prepare for that and he was still struggling with his hamstring. I thought it was smart to get a guy in there who’s fresh and ready and it paid off.”

DeLaGarza will need his hamstring healthy whether he’s playing inside or on the right. Either way, he’ll see one of the blistering duo of Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury on a regular basis.

“As a defender, I think you need someone back there who’s ready and 100 percent,” DeLaGarza said.

Here are a few other notes from Monday’s teleconference:


Bobby Shuttleworth and Matt Reis will be in opposing locker rooms at the MLS Cup, but it wasn’t long ago that Shuttleworth apprenticed for the 16-year league veteran Reis.

Shuttleworth backed up the longtime New England goalkeeper for four years from 2009 to ’12.

Revs coach Jay Heaps — who played with Reis for seven seasons — compared their careers.

“The link between Matt and Bobby is that no one’s given either one of them anything,” said Heaps, bringing up when Reis had to battle for playing time with Adin Brown back in the 2003 and ’04 seasons. “They’ve earned every minute on the field. Matt had to do it, I watched it him do it when he was traded from LA to the Revolution.”

Reis had to wait even longer than Shuttleworth for his chance. He was the backup in LA his first five seasons in the league and Reis didn’t become a full-time starter until 2004 when he was 29 years old.

“He went through a similar situation that I went through,” Shuttleworth said. “He had to wait a while to get his opportunity. He was always talking me through that experience and how he got through it and what he did and I can’t be thankful enough for that.”

The 27-year-old Shuttleworth beat out Brad Knighton for the starter’s job this year and has held onto it with a 1.25 goals against average. Shuttleworth has also saved two penalty kicks and recorded eight shutouts.

“The two of them battled last year,” Heaps said, referring to Shuttleworth and Reis. “This year, it was really clear that Bobby’s time and his work was pushing him to be not only the number one for our team, but a great goalkeeper in this league.”


Bruce Arena is one of the most decorated American soccer coaches ever, and on Monday the 63-year-old was asked to assess the next generation, including the Revolution’s 38-year-old coach Heaps.

“It speaks well for the future of the game in this country,” the Galaxy coach said, mentioning the abundance of U.S.-born coaches currently in MLS. “We need to not only keep developing players, but coaches as well… These young guys have demonstrated this year that they belong.”

Fourteen MLS teams have American coaches, while 11 coaches are age 41 or under if you include New York City FC’s Jason Kreis. Sixteen of the coaches have MLS playing experience.

As for his opponent on Sunday?

“I’ve known Jay a long time,” Arena said. “I actually recruited him at the University of Virginia and he chose to go to Duke, so I held that against him for a number of years… He played for one of the greatest coaches in the world in (Duke basketball coach) Mike Krzyzewski.”

Arena mentioned young coaches such as New York’s Mike Petke, Vancouver’s Carl Robinson and Columbus’ Gregg Berhalter. He said he did not expect D.C. United’s Ben Olsen to become a coach.

What do you think of these notes? What impact will DeLaGarza’s return have on the final? How will Shuttleworth do against LA? Where does Heaps rank among the group of young MLS coaches?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. AJ will be key in the Final. We missed him in the back against What’s-their-faces. Usually, it’s AJ who clears those balls out with his feet, not Omar. First To Five!

    • Yup- that’s a pretty big deal for the backline having him back. Regardless of whether he is on the outside or centerback, he and Omar have so many reps together, such an instinctual rapport, it makes life much less hectic/easier in the box. AJ is a rock- rarely makes the sensational play, but that’s kind of the point as a defender isn’t it, everyone does their job and you rarely need to.

      I’m pulling for Galaxy but am loving what NE has put together and plenty of players on that side. Them boys is dangerous! And been a pleasure to watch. This is going to be fun!


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