Ashley Cole undecided over LA Galaxy move despite deal being ‘close’

Ashley Cole’s proposed move to LA Galaxy is still hanging in the balance as the English left-back is mulling over “two or three options” as to where his career will likely finish.

Reports emerged earlier this week suggesting that Cole was “close” to securing a deal that would seem him move to MLS with LA Galaxy, but that does not seem to be the case at this stage.

The 35-year-old defender is believed to enjoy his lifestyle in Italy, where he has been since joining AS Roma in July 2014, and could even decide to remain where he is.

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Crystal Palace and Manchester United have also been linked with Cole if the former Chelsea and Arsenal star opts to make a return to the Premier League.

LA Galaxy is still seen as Cole’s most likely destination but no deal appears to have been agreed as we enter 2016.

Galaxy head coach, Bruce Arena has revealed he is actively looking to bring in a few players before the start of the 2016 MLS season, with experienced additions a priority after seeing Omar Gonzalez and Juninho transferred to Mexican clubs.

“I would anticipate that we’ll add three or four players to our roster,” Arena said. “There are a lot of factors on why players come to our team as opposed to others.

“The Galaxy have a good reputation. Our players from Europe that have played here or are playing here are good spokespersons for our club.”

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A move to LA Galaxy would see Cole link up with former England teammate Steven Gerrard as well as Irish striker Robbie Keane.

However, it would be highly unlikely that Cold would sign as a Designated Player, given the fact that the Galaxy already have Keane, Gerrard and Giovani Dos Santos tied down on DP contracts.

Would Ashley Cole be a good signing for LA Galaxy? 

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MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps 

Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, June 6 – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 3/4 – Draw 13/5 – Vancouver Whitecaps 18/5

Match Preview

LA Galaxy host this season’s surprise package on Saturday night as the Vancouver Whitecaps make the trip to StubHub centre.

LA have endured a tough start to the 2015 season, failing to really shine in the Western Conference with some disappointing results on the way.

But the Galaxy are not known for finding form early in a season and their late charge last term saw them eventually pick up the MLS Cup.

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They do remain extremely impressive at home and are yet to lose at StubHub in their last 26 matches in MLS.

LA Galaxy’s 2015 MLS record: P15 – W5 – D6 – L4

Vancouver have hit a wall and are struggling to regain their early season form after only having won twice in their last seven in MLS.

They have failed to win away since April 19 (1-0 win at Real Salt Lake) and will struggle to end that run on Saturday night in what is set to be a real test.

Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2015 MLS record: P15 – W7 – D2 – L6

The Whitecaps remain two points clear of their opponents at the weekend but could be surpassed should they lose to the reigning champions.

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These two have already met once this term, as the Whitecaps won 2-0 on home soil and this will be the final regular season meeting between the Western Conference rivals this season, so expect a real battle.

Team News

LA Galaxy have Brian Perk missing through injury. Alan Gordon, Jose Villarreal, AJ DeLaGarza, Robbie Rogers and Todd Dunivant are all doubts for this one too. Robbie Keane is away with Ireland on international duty, while Jaime Penedo, Bradford Jamieson IV and Gyasi Zardes are also unavailable.

Vancouver Whitecaps are without Sam Adekugbe, Marco Bustos and Andre Lewis for the visit to the StubHub center. Deybi Flores is away on international duty with the Honduras U20’s.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s last five: L/L/W/W/D

Vancouver Whitecaps’ last five: W/L/L/W/L

Key Stat: LA Galaxy won every meeting between the two sides at home.

Key Player: Juninho – The LA Galaxy midfielder is the unsung hero in a very good side.He’s key to LA’s hopes of winning the midfield battle on Saturday and will need to step up in this one.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps – Tough to see Vancouver ending that LA Galaxy unbeaten home streak on Saturday. LA are depleted with absences but should still manage to get a result in what should be an entertaining game.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, May 9th – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 7/5 – Draw 23/10 – LA Galaxy 19/10

Match Preview

FC Dallas host LA Galaxy in a key Western Conference clash on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium as the home side look to extend their unbeaten run to four against the reigning MLS Cup champions.

Dallas have only lost twice this season and lead the Western Conference on 17 points, three ahead of the Galaxy in fourth, and so this is a crucial game.

FCD beat Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby last Friday in an impressive 4-1 win and will be looking to build on that display by winning their sixth game of the campaign against the Galaxy on home soil.

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Dallas beat the Galaxy 2-1 at home last season, winning against their rivals for the first time since 2011, and will be hoping to extend their lead to six points ahead of them come the end of play on Saturday.

The Galaxy also come into the game on an unbeaten streak, as they have not lost in five now, though three consecutive draws will have left some fans disappointed.

A 1-1 draw at home to Colorado Rapids last weekend was followed up by a 0-0 draw in Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night and head coach Bruce Arena will be hoping fatigue doesn’t cost them here.

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Juninho missed a stoppage time penalty on Wednesday night and the Galaxy have now only netted twice in their past three as the absence of Robbie Keane is clearly affecting them.

Fabian Castillo is in incredible form, having scored three and picked up three assists in Dallas’ last three outings, and he will look to cause the Galaxy defence all kinds of problems.

Team News

FC Dallas have five injury worries ahead of the game as Coy Craft, Stephen Keel, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges and Chris Seitz all look set to miss out. Blas Perez will return in attack after serving his suspension, while Ryan Hollingshead should keep Tesho Akindele on the bench again.

LA Galaxy have six players ruled out through injury as Brian Perk, Robbie Keane, Jose Villarreal, Edson Buddle, Todd Dunivant and Kenney Walker will all miss out. Juninho started the game at RSL on the bench and could come into start. Alan Gordon and Bradford Jamieson IV are likely to start up front again.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: L/L/W/D/W

LA Galaxy’s last five: W/W/D/D/D

Key Stat: FC Dallas have scored more goals than any other side in MLS so far this season (15) but they have registered the fewest shots per game (9). Efficient.

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Key Player: Fabian Castillo – Hard to overlook the Colombian winger after an incredible run of form has seen him look unstoppable. He could prove the difference here.

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 3-1 LA Galaxy – FC Dallas are looking to be in real good form and will build on their convincing win against Houston with another victory in this one. The Galaxy will be tired from their Wednesday night trip to Rio Tinto Stadium and will lose their first in five in Dallas this weekend.

Stats: Does Baggio Husidic need to start for LA Galaxy?

The LA Galaxy got the 2015 MLS season off to a perfect start as they beat Chicago Fire 2-0 in the season opener last Friday but things might not have panned out so well had Baggio Husidic not entered the field on 62 minutes.

The departure of Marcelo Sarvas to the Colorado Rapids this offseason, coupled with the fact that Steven Gerrard won’t be joining the Galaxy until the summer means there is a central midfield role to be filled.

Husidic started the game on the bench as head coach Bruce Arena handed a surprise start to Kenney Walker in central midfield alongside Juninho.

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But the 27-year-old took his chance with both hands as he hadn’t been on the field two minutes and his side had scored the first goal of the 2015 MLS season, with Jose Villarreal firing the reigning MLS Cup champions in front.

Husidic was the man who started that move and the Bosnian went on to grab the assist for the second goal of the game to seal all three points on 80 minutes.

His headed flick found Robbie Keane in the box and the Irishman fired home to make it 2-0. The Galaxy had lacked any real sting in their attacking play for much of the game but looked a much better side when Baggio Husidic was on the field.

A statistical comparison of LA Galaxy's three central midfielders from the game against the Chicago Fire (Stats via WhoScored.com)

A statistical comparison of LA Galaxy’s three central midfielders from the game against the Chicago Fire (Stats via WhoScored.com)

He may have only played 27 minutes but Husidic ended the game with three key passes (passes that led to a shot), and assist and 91% pass accuracy.

Walker failed to make a single key pass but did end the game with better passing accuracy. He also made more tackles than either Husidic or Juninho and his more defensive approach to the role is proven by the statistics.

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That doesn’t mean Walker didn’t perform well but it was Husidic who sparked life into the Galaxy attack. In a successful partnership with Juninho, Husidic could roam further forwards as the Brazilian is more effective when defending. That is the combination Arena may look to start with against the Portland Timbers on Sunday night and beyond.

It is only one game and there are plenty more to come this season but until Gerrard arrives in Los Angeles, Baggio Husidic looks like he should be the man to sit alongside Juninho in midfield.

Do you think Baggio Husidic needs to start for LA Galaxy in midfield?

Three potential signings to replace Landon Donovan at LA Galaxy

With the recent retirement of Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy has a huge hole to fill in their squad and an unoccupied designated player slot too. Though replacing the US soccer legend is no easy task.

Donovan leaves behind a great legacy with the Galaxy having recently lead them to his fourth MLS Cup title with the franchise and his sixth overall – the most titles won by any player.

However, it remains to be seen how LA will look to replace him. An attacking option is set to be added to the squad before the start of the new MLS season in March. Though they may wait until the summer if the right name is available then.

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Much of the post-Donovan chat has been on the permanent move to MLS for Erick Torres, but he has gone back to parent club Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico to help with their ongoing relegation struggle.

Bruce Arena may have to adjust his formation due to the loss of Donovan, which could expand the potential list of suitors.

His current 4-4-2 formation has seemed to work for some time now, but the loss of Donavan leaves a huge hole in the Galaxy squad.

Here are three potential replacements:

Darren Bent (Striker) – Aston Villa (England)

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England international striker Darren Bent has been somewhat of a forgotten man since Paul Lambert took over the reigns at Villa. And so Bent could do with a new challenge after seeing his starting place handed to Belgium front man Christian Benteke.

He could be a great partner for MLS MVP Robbie Keane, having previously played at Tottenham Hotspur as well as at Villa together. But this would mean re-positioning Gyasi Zardes from the Galaxy attack to accommodate Bent.

Ronaldinho (Attacking Midfielder) – Querétaro F.C. (Mexico)

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The World Cup winning Brazilian needs no introduction and a move to MLS giants LA Galaxy could be the swansong he deserves.

Ronaldinho can operate on either flank, through the middle or up front so he would be a suitable replacement for Donovan in terms of versatility. However, he doesn’t posses the defensive qualities of Donovan and so Zardes could be forced out wide to accommodate Ronaldinho’s arrival too.

Andrea Pirlo (Midfielder) – Juventus (Italy)

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Pass-master Pirlo is a World Cup winner like Ronaldinho and would further strengthen the Galaxy midfield. Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho could benefit by having Pirlo just in behind them to give them more freedom to attack.

He’s been linked with a move recently and the potential signing of Pirlo could would allow Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes to continue their lethal strike partnership, while giving them a player who can provide service from deeper.

Who do you think LA Galaxy will replace Landon Donovan with?

2014 MLS Season Review: LA Galaxy

Western Conference Final Position: 2nd

Western Conference Playoffs: Winners

MLS Cup Winners 2014

Review

Putting it simply, 2014 has been an excellent season for LA Galaxy. They have won the MLS Cup, but not just that, they have made history by winning a record fifth title and now become the most successful club in the history of the competition. It has made for a fairytale ending for club legend Landon Donovan who has now retired.

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Best Moment

Many will look to Robbie Keane‘s 111th minute winner in the MLS Cup Final as the clear front-runner for the greatest moment of 2014 for LA Galaxy, and rightly so. However, without Juninho‘s strike in the second-leg of the Western Conference championship tie away at Seattle Sounders, they would never have had the opportunity to lift the title.

Worst Moment

The one low point of the season will be the 2-0 defeat at Seattle Sounders in the last game of the regular season which saw their Western Conference rivals win the Supporters’ Shield.

Player of the Year

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Robbie Keane was the Major League Soccer MVP and although the LA Galaxy team was filled with great performers in 2014 such as Landon Donovan, Gyasi Zardes and Marcelo Sarvas – to name just a few – he gets the nod for player of the year. His winning goal in the MLS Cup Final against New England Revolution was a priceless moment that only emphasised his importance to this Galaxy side.

Biggest Win

LA Galaxy 6-0 Colorado Rapids (September 6 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Columbus Crew 4-1 LA Galaxy (August 16 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

First and foremost, the Galaxy will need to try and find a suitable replacement for Landon Donovan. Finding a player to replace the aura that Donovan leaves behind is near impossible, but they will need to look for someone who possesses a similar level of ability – not an easy task.

Another pointer would be to try and hit the ground running in 2015. They came out of the traps slowly at the beginning of the 2014 campaign, picking up just two wins from their first eight games, which handed the initiative to their rivals immediately. They need to set the benchmark early on next time around.